Make your home a refuge

Designers will flock to Cork this weekend to celebrate the new look Dunnes at Bishopstown Court, writes EMMA CONNOLLY
Make your home a refuge
Michael Mortell's home range for Dunnes Stores.

YOU’VE a better chance of seeing a stylish, interesting person in Cork than you do in Paris, says renowned fashion turned furniture designer Michael Mortell.

But in either city you’ll probably just see women in leggings and trainers because the casual look is what people are wearing now everywhere, he quips.

The Mallow man was sharing his thoughts as his first furniture collection, in collaboration with Dunnes Stores, is revealed to coincide with the new look Dunnes at Bishopstown Court.

A weekend of events, including a visit from Michael, will take place from Friday, November 16, to Sunday, November 18 to celebrate the world class shopping destination.

Michael, who has been away from Mallow longer than he lived there, is looking forward to the in-store event as he says he doesn’t get back to his native county often enough.

“I’m not trying to butter up Corkonians but I haven’t spent enough time there; it’s a lovely city,” he said.

Dublin-based, he also has a furniture store in the capital where he sells mid-century, mainly French and Italian, antiques.

He’s currently working on his third fashion line for Dunnes but this is his first furniture range which he said he created for a young person/couple fitting out a house.

The range comprises five pieces: a cocktail cabinet; a console; coffee table; sideboard and room divider (which he says would also work behind a sofa).

“I see a lot of people coming into the shop who would love a mid-century cocktail cabinet – but they cost between €11,000 and €20,000. I’ve now designed one in the same style and spirit which they can afford. I’d be happy to have any of my pieces in my own home.”

Brendan Courtney and Sonya Lennon
Brendan Courtney and Sonya Lennon

That is an apartment in Dublin where he says he likes ‘to go off court’ with design.

“I had my dining table made to my specifications and I’ve garden chairs, a stylish ’50s design, which I got in auction in Paris. I thought they’d be fabulous and give the place a certain attitude and stop the look from being too precious. I like when you bring in some individuality.”

His pet peeve when it comes to interiors is minimalism, which he couldn’t live with. “That doesn’t mean clutter though, which will destroy any look; tidiness is an essential for the aesthetic of any look.”

His advice to anyone looking for direction in designing a space is to find a picture they like and work to that.

“But it’s like a musician who records a song; after that the permutations are endless. It’s open-ended what you can do with your home but the most important thing is that you like it; to hell with other people’s opinions. It’s your refuge from the cares and labours of daily life where you can recharge and energise and get inspiration for the next day so surround yourself with things you love.”

Michael has a Moroccan room for this purpose — a favourite destination of his.

“I feel cocooned and inspired in that room.”

With so many people taking interiors inspiration from social media, especially Instagram, he admits to not being on it, even though he says he probably should.

“I’d advise young people to train their eye; buy books or watch old movies and feed their imagination, and remember that it’s not the end of the world if they don’t get it right; I could start my home again and do it all again differently.”

For the past few months, major developments have taken place in this Dunnes Stores flagship store, which is located just off the South Link. The result is a state of the art retail hub for food, home, fashion and hospitality with some of the leading Irish names in food and fashion all under one roof.

A weekend of in-store events are planned for this Friday, Saturday and Sunday, November 16 to 18. Designers will be in store on each of the three days where they will be doing meet and greet events and talking about their collections with customers.

The fun runs on Friday from noon to 5pm; on Saturday from 11am to 5pm and on Sunday from 11am to 5pm.

Santa will be in store on Saturday with face painting for kids on both Saturday and Sunday helping to create a family friendly atmosphere, while DJ Stevie G will provide entertainment over the three days.

Designers who will be in the store on Friday are Carolyn Donnelly and Paul Galvin. Saturday will feature Leigh Tucker, Brendan Courtney and Sonya Lennon and Paul Costello.

On Sunday it’s the turn of Francis Brennan and Michael Mortell. The new look food hall will also feature food demos and tastings.

For more details regarding the schedule see

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