- Lifestyle & Sports
- 24 Apr 18
Mayo designer Deirdre Duffy wants to give a hug to those who need it with her beautiful handwoven pieces.
Designer Deirdre Duffy grew up in and has now returned to Claremorris, Co. Mayo, after spending 10 years in Dublin.
“I love living in the west, it affords you time to have a much slower pace of life and it allowed me to be in the position to prepare and launch Wild Cocoon in 2015,” she enthuses.
Wild Cocoon, Duffy’s label, focuses on beautiful handwoven pieces, made on a foot-powered floor loom ensuring that no two items are ever the same. Crafted using 100% lambswool, the texture, weight and colours are key to the unique appeal of the work. Duffy’s label has been a long time coming, as her love of art, design and natural fabrics emerged early.
“I used to knit clothes for my dolls and Barbies when I was very young!” she laughs. “I don’t ever remember learning to knit, it must have gone in by osmosis at some stage. My grandmother was a big knitter and my mum can run up the odd baby jumper when needed. I was a daydreamer in school, and I was diagnosed with dyslexia in primary school. As a result of this I really enjoyed anything in school that was hands on. In my teens we were lucky enough in Claremorris to have an international art exhibition (COE) in the town - in fact it only finished last year after 40 years. My friends and I would help prepare the exhibition spaces and help the artists hang the work. It was really exciting to see a different way of life than the usual one peddled by an Irish Catholic girls school. I knew then that I wanted to go to art college. I was fortunate enough to have parents that never questioned that decision and encouraged me to pursue that direction.”
Duffy spent a year in the Galway Technical Institute before studying textile design at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin, specialising in woven textiles.
“I loved weave the minute I tried it,” Duffy says. “I love colour and I love the idea of literally being able to create a piece of fabric from the beginning. It’s so exciting and the sense of satisfaction when it’s finished and looks like the one in your head in so rewarding. I tried print for a while but it was too two dimensional for me and embroidery was too fiddly and precise. Weaving is precise and technical but somehow it suits the way my brain works.”
Duffy is one of a few modern designers who work extensively with wool, a textile whose beauty and historical resonance often goes overlooked.
“I love exploring traditional costume from around the world. I’m always drawn to the old Irish vernacular where clothes and blankets were protection and carried stories from house to house and generation to generation. Wild Cocoon is based on this idea of protection from both climate and a bit of emotional protection also to be passed down for years as they are wool and will last for donkeys.”
Wild Cocoon has scooped up several awards, and was selected twice for Create at Brown Thomas. In 2017 Wild Cocoon was a double winner at the Irish Fashion Innovation Awards taking home both Accessory Designer of the Year and the Innovation award – and it’s easy to see why. Duffy’s designs are striking, balancing the contemporary and chic with the tactile and traditional. There’s an emotional quality to the work, which manifests itself in Duffy’s latest collection, called Cosmic Earth.
“It was inspired by experience rather than anything extremely tangible,” she says. “I’m having a hard time understanding what’s happening in the world at the moment. I feel the world is becoming more and more aggressive and it worries me, to be honest. As silly as it sounds, I wanted to create some way of giving a hug to those who needed it. One of my scarves is called Beyond Darkness and it was really inspired by that idea of looking beyond that feeling of helplessness or confusion and seeing the light of all the great things in the world also.”
Wild Cocoon is stocked in many Irish stores including Irish Design Shop, House of Ireland, Kilkenny Design Centre, and Cleo in Dublin.
For a full list of stockists or to buy Wild Cocoon online, visit wildcocoon.ie
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