Warren Hayes, a Letterfrack graduate, established Coolree Design in 2017. Warren is motivated by simple, useful design. Each piece in his collection is finished to a high standard using the best materials. We asked Warren to tell us a bit more about his surrounds and his making process.
Tell us a bit about what you make
We design and make high-end furniture and homewares. Design is at the heart of our company with the focus of each piece on – Simplicity and Beauty. There is a nice mix between one-off bespoke commissions and small batch production runs. Our homewares collection consists of a range of products, from mirrors and clocks, to wall hooks and chopping boards. When it comes to commissioned pieces, we could be making anything from tables and chairs to trophies, to cremation urns. All our pieces are made to the highest quality, using both modern and traditional techniques and the finest materials.
Could you describe your studio to us? What is your favourite thing about the space?
I was lucky enough to be able to build my own workshop beside the house. It is bright and airy, with plenty of windows to allow the light in. It is big enough to fit all the machinery needed for solid timber work, from a planer and thicknesser to a spindle molder and lathe. There is plenty of storage to hold all the bits and pieces needed to make furniture. I also have all my most used tools hung on the wall behind the workbench, so they are always close to hand.
However, the best thing about the workshop is its location, in the heart of the bog. It's so quiet and peaceful here that I can really relax and enjoy being in the space.
How do you get into the mindset of making?
I don’t really have any routine to get myself into the mindset. I’ve been in the workshop making pretty much every day for the last 15 years, so I’m probably always in the mindset. However, I think it helps when you’re excited about what you’re making and are looking forward to getting started on it.
What is your favourite tool and why?
I have a block plane (small hand plane), which I love. I bought it in a second-hand tool shop in the UK when I got my first weeks wages as a furniture maker. It is a fairly basic plane but it fits just right in my hand. I have kept it with me ever since and I think I’ve used it on pretty much every commission I have ever made.
Can you describe your making process to us?
Once I have the design finalised, the first step is to pick out the timber. I’m lucky in that I have a good timber supplier who still lets me go through and pick out the right planks for the job. All the timber is FSC certified, so it's fully sustainable. I then start marking out each part of the job, while constantly checking the grain direction. It then goes through various machining operations, from cutting, planning, shaping, and sanding. The processes and techniques used will vary according to what I’m making. There will generally be 2-3 glue ups in each piece, so it's important that each stage is done accurately. After this there is a lot more sanding, working your way through finer and finer grits. Each piece then gets between 4-6 coats of finish, this can be paint, lacquer, or oil and wax.
What is your inspiration?
I have always been interested in architecture and I get a lot of ideas from studying the shapes and forms of buildings. There is an amazing amount of lines and shapes being created in a building and I like how an architect can play with these to create a certain atmosphere in a room.
I like to keep a clean, contemporary look to my designs. All my pieces are designed with the goal of creating a beautifully simple product. I try to design furniture that will help create a calm, relaxed atmosphere in the home.
What led you to choose this craft as a profession?
I have always had an interest in making things having grown up working with my father, a builder & carpenter. There were always bits of wood lying around, so I would make little things for around the home and used to love it. I decided fairly young that I wanted to continue working with wood. I had intended on getting an apprenticeship to a local joiner until I heard about the Furniture Design & Manufacture course in Letterfrack and knew immediately that is what I wanted to do.
How do your surroundings affect your work?
I think my surroundings have a greater effect on me than on my work. I live down a very quiet little lane, in the middle of a bog. However, the bog hasn’t been cut in many years, so is now completely grown over with ferns and heather, along with hundreds of Birch trees. It’s very calm and peaceful here and that, in turn, helps me remain calm and relaxed. I tend not to draw direct inspiration from my surroundings, however, preferring to work with clean, simple lines, to produce designs, which I hope, will help create a calm, relaxed atmosphere in the home.
What is your favourite piece?
My favourite piece to date is my rocking chair. The brief which I set myself was to design a contemporary rocking chair, a chair to while away the hours whether reading, lounging or nursing a child to sleep. The design departs from the traditional image of the rocking chair and instead is composed of a molded seat suspended within a solid timber frame. However, I’m currently working on a couple of new lounge chair designs, which I’m hoping will become my new favourites!
A selection of Coolree Design products are available to purchase here