Iseult O’ Clery and her father Edward run Saturday Workshop from a shed in their garden in Sandymount. The pair make beautifully simplistic childlike objects that are modern and functional. Each piece is precisely cut by their CNC router and then hand finished. I recently caught up with Iseult and Edward to find out more about life at Saturday Workshop.
Tell us a little bit about both of your design backgrounds?
Iseult I am an architect, I studied in UCD and currently work in Dublin. I have always been making and designing things ever since I can remember, Saturday Workshop is a great outlet to do this on a smaller scale than Architecture. Its amazing that you can draw something in the morning and have fully finished product by the end of the day!
Edward I am a structural engineer. I studied architecture in UCD for a few years, then emigrated to Australia. After my return to Ireland, I worked with various engineering firms and then studied engineering at Edinburgh University.
What sparked the idea to set up Saturday Workshop?
Iseult I was on a team of designers curating the Irish Pavillion at the International World Design Capital Exhibition in Helsinki in 2012. One of the objects we brought over was a chair (designed by James McBennet) which was CNC cut. When I went to get it made with a company in Delgany I couldn't fit the plywood in my car so Dad drove instead. He was amazed by the technology and we started talking about getting our own machine...
Edward I have always made stuff. Making model boats, when I was young. Later, making real boats & furniture. The visit to Delgany with Iseult was a revelation. Seeing timber being cut so precisely, opened new possibilities.
Working with family isn't for everyone, how are ye finding it?
Edward We have different interests. Iseult likes to design. I like to make things. It works out fine.
You mention on your website that you use a mix of old and new techniques, can you explain the process in some more detail?
Iseult We have a CNC machine which is essentially a computer controlled router. This means we draw CAD files and the machine cuts them very precisely. Having the machinery means that we can do a lot more without having access to a full workshop. All of the finishing is done by hand though. The things we make are inspired by the simplicity of traditional objects and toys that have disappeared a bit in modern society.
Edward I made models with balsa wood, boats with timber, canvas, and plywood – and also furniture. We are now doing the same thing. However, we can now make prototypes quickly, and continue into production.
You do commission work also, what sort of things have you been asked to do so far?
Iseult We have done quite a few wooden signs, a teepee pavillion for electric picnic, and most recently some objects for the wedding of Kate O'Dowd (BASH magazine editor). Its great to have different projects on the go and we are really open to doing collaborations.
What plans do Saturday Workshop have for the future?
Iseult We would like to do a lot more in Irish hardwoods, like our Beech Eggcups, its great to know that our materials are all sustainably sourced in Ireland. We are currently developing a few ideas for wooden toys, and looking forward to future collaborations.
Edward We both like to experiment with wood. There are endless possibilities. I saw a traditional Galway Hooker boat on exhibition in the new museum in Galway. Detailed construction plans are available. Maybe, a model or full-size one, could appear.
We have a selection of pieces from Saturday Workshop both in store and from our website.
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