Offered as an exam subject in only a handful of secondary schools around Ireland, founder of Coolree Design Warren Hayes is still hopeful that the craft of woodwork is not lost.
“Renewed support for locally made products has seen an increase in young people taking up the craft, resulting in a transfer of skills to the next generation,” says Warren.
Nestled in the protected bogs of Kildare, adjacent to the peaceful Ballynafagh Lake and the Bog of Allen, Warren runs his one-man operation as a woodworker and furniture designer. The natural tones and textures of his serene environment inspire the refined styles and clean lines across his expansive collection of furnishings, gifts and home accessories. Each handcrafted piece adheres to an ethically minded ethos, using only sustainably sourced timber to bring the beautiful and functional designs to life.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Most recently my inspiration has come from my new baby, designing sustainable toys and nursery furniture. This new chapter in my life is opening a whole new world of products for Coolree Design. I have created a modern version of the rocking chair for example, and more recently a modern take on the traditional Irish three-legged milking stool.
What is the best thing about crafting your products in Ireland?
I love meeting the people buying my products. I deliver all my bespoke pieces and it’s wonderful to see it placed in its new home. There’s also a wonderful community of craftspeople in Ireland, where you can share ideas and advice.
How has the pandemic affected your business most?
As a sole trader, I have been lucky to be able to keep going throughout most of the pandemic. In one way it has benefitted my business as people spent more time at home, identifying new furniture ideas and functionality needed to improve their living space. This has resulted in a big increase in commissioned bespoke furniture for Coolree Design.
Instagram has also helped the business to reach new and potential customers during the pandemic. I’ve invested more time in growing the following over the last year, it’s a fantastic platform for exhibiting new designs and bespoke pieces.
What was the last thing you bought and loved?
Well the last thing I bought that I loved wasn’t for me, it was birthday present for my mother. A beautiful large jug by John Ryan Ceramics. The pandemic has made us all step back and look at our lives. I think we’ve learned that we need to support each other by buying made local products to make a brighter future for everyone.
To find out more and enter the Irish Made Awards 2021, see irishcountrymagazine.ie/awards