- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 13, 2002

"Design is a healing art," says the Dublin-born designer Clodagh, who uses only her first name professionally. The statement reflects well the attitude of the internationally known professional whose New York firm, Clodagh Design, has been in existence since 1983.
Her approach is "about people, not products," she insists. "It's all about making people feel comfortable."
With no undue modesty, she also proclaims that, where design preferences are concerned, "people are going much more into my way of thinkingmore minimal and simple."
In her case, the minimal does not always refer to reduced scale, and simple definitely is in the eye of the beholder. Work she has done for such famous clients as actor-director Robert Redford, outfitting his New York penthouse, is texturally exciting and lavish in its use of materials. She is fond of concrete used on interiors, stonework in varied patterns, sensuous fabrics, and the occasional splash of bright red for contrast against predominent earth tones.
The renewed interest in home entertaining is real enough, she said in an interview prior to a lecture she gave last month at the National Building Museum. As proof of this, she mentioned requests for her firm to produce "a lot of enormous comfortable wood tables with seating around them."
Clodagh's talk, one in an ongoing series the museum sponsors called "Spotlight on Design," coincided with the recent publication of her book, "Total Design," in which she outlines her philosophy and emphasis on environmentally friendly materials using the letter 'C' as a code word for four distinct stages involved in any design project, some of which take place before any physical work on the interior space begins.
Contemplation refers to how a person feels in their space. Cleansing means getting rid of unwanted and unused things, she told her museum audience. Clarification is identifying personal goals, needs and desires. The fourth C stand for creatingimagining the space that reflects a person at his or her best. A feeling of spaciousness, she noted, is determined far more by clarity and energy flow than by size.
"Cleansingit's a very good moment to do it after the horrors we have been through," she said. "One way to do this is by making lists of household items that a person wants to keep, what he or she can throw away, and what he wishes he owned." Clarification is necessary, she said, "because it's important to celebrate our lives in the moment." An environmentally friendly space should be "glamorous, minimal and flexible." This extends to bathrooms as well: "Anywhere we spend a lot of time.
"After September 11, it also is important to add the word 'courage,'" she said, "The courage to make these changes.


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