Monday, 26 October 2015

Ad Man Glamour

Geoff Kirk's living room contains a Finn Juhl couch and a shelving unit by Riccardo Franco. Photo by Mark Scott

Originally published in Image Interiors & Living in January of this year, this Sandymount house tour, styled by Sheenagh Green and shot by Mark Scott, has taken on a new relevance. It's the home of mid-century furniture collector Geoff Kirk, who swears by Scandinavia as a source of much of his great collection of furniture, lighting and tabletop objects. For a slice of Nordic decor in Dublin, read on...

Geoff Kirk's dining room, with a G Plan table, Jacobsen Series 7 chairs and a vintage sideboard. Photo by Mark Scott Geoff Kirk's kitchen comes from Danish Kitchen Designs in Churchtown, Dublin. Photo by Mark Scott

Geoff Kirk, along with his wife Ursula and cat Binkie, is living the mid-century dream. A bright and beautiful home filled with vintage furniture and objects mixes warm 1950s Scandinavian style with a glamorous MadMen feel. A former ad man himself, Geoff's training in design and photography as well as growing up in a house where mid-century design took pride of place has given him a real love of modernism, as well as a keen eye for what works in a home. “You wonder where you get your taste from and then you see an old episode of Bewitched and it hits you right between the eyes: the styling, the papa bear chair in the living room, the glamour of advertising! Closer to home, I got a lot of my taste from my mother: she was a fan of modernism and the house was full of it. I started collecting out of nostalgia for that.”

Geoff's work in advertising saw him travelling a lot and he rediscovered a lot of mid-century gems while browsing in markets in London and elsewhere. What started off as a personal collection has become Geoff's business: you can now buy his marvellous finds at “I'm a collector at heart and when I started I never thought I'd ever sell anything. But then we ran out of space.” And is it hard to part with pieces he is so clearly passionate about? “It gets easier with time. I tend to think if something sells it's making way for something new to come in.”

An Irish Crannac sofa and a Jacobsen Egg chair in Geoff Kirk's living room. Photo by Mark Scott A range of vintage advertising figures from Alfie's Antiques Market in London sit on Geoff Kirk's shelf. Photo by Mark Scott

While Geoff has found a wide range of pieces from all over the world, it's the Scandinavian stuff he likes best. “A lot of the style we recognise as mid-century modern originated from Scandinavia and a lot of the designs left quite a few other countries playing catch up in the 1950s.” As such, in his home you'll find an egg chair by Arne Jacobsen, an incredible yellow and turquoise kitchen fitted by Danish Kitchen Design in Churchtown and a lot of ceramics by Swede Stig Lindberg – some of the only pieces Geoff would be reluctant to part with. That said, Geoff has also collected – and passed on – mid-century pieces by Irish designers. A teak sofa by Crannac in Navan was found in a field in Galway and after a lot of time and care, has been brought back to life: “when I found it there was an Irish wolfhound sleeping on it and he wasn't too happy about losing his bed...” He has ceramics by John ffrench and keeps an eye out for his amazing – but rare – handpainted pieces. Over the years he has sourced a number of pieces by Dublin-born 20th century designer and musician Brendan Dunne, and has passed on a dressing table and sideboard to Collins Barracks to compliment their extensive archive of his drawings and blueprints.

A John Lewis bedspread, Paragon tray table and Cathrineholm coffee pot sit on Geoff Kirk's bed. Photo by Mark Scott.

It's not just furniture and objects that you'll find in Geoff's collection: perhaps telling of his background in advertising, he also has a number of vintage posters on display around the house. “It felt like a natural fit to collect posters and particularly vintage travel posters – the Pan Am is by McKnight Kauffer, the Boac by Abram Games, both important benchmark designers in the 50s and 60s, but it's the style, layout and graphics that are important to me rather than the designer. They pinpoint a moment in time.”

Is it hard to live in a house so full of beautiful, old, rare things? Are spillages, breakages and plain old wear and tear a concern? “No, there is nothing precious about this collection. The rule of the house is form and function. All the chairs get sat on, even Binkie insists on trying out each chair as it comes into the house (his current favourite designer is Finn Juhl). We use vintage ceramics and glasses everyday. Well, maybe not all the teapots, even we don't drink that much tea...”

Geoff Kirk's vintage British and Czech glassware. Photo by Mark Scott Geoff Kirk in his Danish kitchen in Dublin. Photo by Mark Scott
All images by Mark Scott, courtesy of Image Interiors & Living