We were delighted to have been recognised for excellence in project management at the Irish Construction Industry Awards this year.  As one of only 2 shortlisted firms, our reputation for meticulous fit outs and our firm’s skills in coordination across multi-disciplinary teams has distinguished Divine Design from the competition again this year.  We were nominated for this award in recognition of our work on the landmark restoration and refurbishment of The Olympia Theatre along with other noteworthy commercial and residential projects.  We have a track record of creating beautiful, functional and sustainable spaces for our clients, on time and within budget and our work in the historic Olympia Theatre and throughout the year has continued in that tradition.

The Olympia project included complete refurbishment of all the bars in the theatre, redesign of the seating in the stalls, conservation plasterwork throughout the interior and major repair and renovations to the roof of the building.  All this work has been done without impacting on the theatre calendar.  This required meticulous schedule planning and management and the construction of temporary facilities where required.

Some of the most noteworthy elements of the Olympia refurbishment that we are particularly proud of:

  • The theatre stayed open throughout the works – enabling all revenue-generating activities to continue was a priority so we had to be exceptionally resourceful when designing the programme of work
  • Creatively coming up with design opportunities to support and contribute to the profitability of the business, such as the workflow speed of staff at the bars
  • Specialist conservation work on the historic features of the building
  • Balance of retaining the charm and character of the rooms while modernising throughout and creating cutting-edge atmospheric spaces for patrons
  • Abundance of innovative solutions implemented by Divine Design, from taking the initiative to print the feature portraits on bleach clean-able wallpaper for durability and the decision to inset LED lights within their frames so they were lit from within, to minimising errors in the construction of the bars through an original method whereby an iterative process was used to collaborate between teams so all were involved and up to date at all times
  • Maintenance-friendly materials and installations were employed throughout, supporting a sustainable life-cycle of the refurbishment

Other highlights of the last year for us that were considered when determining our nomination for this award were the completion of a tasting space for the Irish Whiskey Museum, further commissions from Teeling Whiskey Distillery and a number of luxury residential projects.  We are always glad to see how our team’s skills have attracted the distinction of again being nominated for such prestigious awards in our field.  We continually strive to differentiate ourselves in relation to:

  • Our excellent communication skills within the teams of professionals needed to bring a project to fruition as well as with the client to convey how the brief has been interpreted and fulfilled
  • Our technical and materials knowledge and awareness of the latest technological developments in interior architecture
  • Our problem solving abilities, an essential skill when delivering on the tight deadlines of our projects and

Our understanding of our clients’ commercial concerns, which means that our projects support and contribute to achieving their strategic business objectives through the design of their space

Divine Design were nominated for the Universal Design Award at the IDI Irish Design
Awards. This is for excellence in design according the principles of Universal Design:

  • Equitable Use
  • Flexibility in Use
  • Simple and Intuitive Use
  • Perceptible Information
  •  Tolerance for Error
  •  Low Physical Effort
  • Size and Space for Approach and Use

We pride ourselves on our design efforts for all users regardless of size, age or ability and
our contributions to the enhancement of our physical environment for the benefit of all.

We recently sat down with www.blueinsurance.ie where they asked us for a bit of insight into exactly what kind of things you should be considering when it comes to designing your home. Our founder Gwen was there to talk about her own story and give everyone some inspiration when it comes to both designing for any budget and making the leap to buy a new home.

Tell us about how you got into design and the story of how Divine Design began?

I have always had an interest in design and went straight into it after school. As with many business owners, necessity was how I started Divine Design. I used to be a designer for Grafton Group, which involved a lot of traveling, designing products and interiors. When I decided to start a family, traveling was not something I wished to do and I wanted to be my own boss.

What kind of design features do you specialise in?

We specialise in high-end, finely detailed yet comfortable and luxurious interiors.  There is no ‘in-house’ style as we tailor each design entirely to the client and space.  We are specialists in smart homes and high-tech installations

Where do you draw your inspirations from (other countries/eras/designers)?

Eileen Gray is an inspiration to any designer. She was 100 years ahead of her time, and constantly mixed and used new materials and technologies, something we are proud to do today.

What sets you apart from others in the industry?

Our USP is Divine Design Bespoke, our highly skilled team that realises our unique designs, individual to each client.  This in-house capability is a significant advantage when it comes to commissioning bespoke pieces that showcase quality craftsmanship and fine detailing. Our team can marry woodwork, metalwork, glass work, veneer marquetry, marble and stone work among other materials to create anything from contemporary designs to intricately carved traditional pieces. Imagination is our only limitation!

What are the most common design “faux pas” that you see in Irish homes?

A lack of bravery when it comes to adding interest through colour and texture.  At Divine Design, we love to see homes that embody the personalities of their inhabitants but many homeowners don’t feel confident straying from the safer neutrals.  Another faux-pas is hanging curtains too low and tight to the window.  We try to optimise the flow of natural light in all our residential designs but if the light is being blocked at source by disproportional window treatments, it can impact the whole space.

What advice would you have to someone designing on a budget?

Keep expensive ‘big ticket items’ neutral and bring pops of colour & texture in with smaller more decorative items that can be updated with the changing trends if desired.

Your top tips for people buying a new home?

  • Try to think of where you will be in 10 years – is this the home you will be in? If so, make sure it will fit any future needs.
  • Employ a reliable surveyor for peace of mind
  • Pay heed to BER ratings – you will feel the difference every winter

Hopes for the future/plans/anything else you want to say about Divine Design?

We hope to continue creating dream spaces for our clients and to build on the success we have had at Divine Design over the last 12 years.


“This feature is adapted from an original blog by Blue Insurance. Blue Insurance is an Irish award-winning insurance provider that specialises in a range of insurance products, including car and home insurance. Some of Blue’s other successful brands are Multitrip.comGadgetInsurance.com,  CarHireExcess.ie and PetInsurance.ie.”

What is the Magic of Divine Design?

Since the earliest days of Divine Design, most of our business has come through referrals and repeat business.  As our clients do most of our marketing for us, we haven’t been pushed to define exactly what it is that sets us apart.  Our firm has continued to grow, right through the recession on the strength of our reputation and our clients’ experience with us.

However, our new design blog is a great opportunity to introduce ourselves to a wider audience beyond our circle of clients who know and love us and to examine exactly what the magic of Divine Design is.  What is it that enables us to exceed expectations on a project and to give our client something special every time?

We have turned our gaze inward for once in order to see what it is that our clients love about us and why they keep coming back.  Of course we create beautifulfunctional spaces – we love design here, we love beauty and we love to innovate.  But we see some of our contemporaries creating dynamic and gorgeous interiors too.  So we have dug deeper and narrowed it down to three of the qualities that most distinguish us from our peers.

In going back through our portfolio, one thing that stands out relative to other interior designers is the striking variety in our work.  We have seen many designers apply variations on their signature style to a range of projects, for sure, but our capacity to adapt to such a wide variety of design styles is rare.  Repetition is not in our repertoire.  We think this comes from our earnest approach to each design project, where we place learning about the client and the building context first and foremost.  Respecting the unique wishes of each homeowner or the brand DNA of a business leads to a design outcome with integrity.

The next thing that differentiates us is our professional and technical knowledge.  This is something that our commercial clients rely on us absolutely for.  Navigating the building regulation environment, health and safety requirements, guidance on the technical performance of the materials and products we are specifying, minimizing ongoing maintenance costs for businesses, managing shipping and lead times to optimize project schedules, the list is endless!  But our experience and expertise means that our clients don’t have to deal with these headaches and can wholeheartedly put their trust in us.  The longest and most fruitful relationships we have built with both commercial and residential clients have this implicit trust in common.

Our final USP, one that has been honed right through the recession and beyond is our commercial sensibility in design.  Our team are highly qualified and well-rounded in their balance of skills that complement each other, true Renaissance women and men!  We understand the varied considerations that go into a successful commercial or hospitality space, from workflow efficiency to the psychology of colour, space and light in creating atmosphere through to experiential design and everything in between.  But most of all, we understand the primacy of the bottom line for any business.  We have become well known for our hospitality design, with a small sample of recent projects including the redesign of all four bars in the Olympia Theatre and a new bar and event space in the Teeling Whiskey Distillery.  One example that illustrates how we weave the business objectives through every aspect of our designs is in the Portrait Bar in the Olympia.  The demands on a theatre bar are specific in that patrons need to be served within a short space of time during intervals.  This bar was formerly laid out as a linear bar on one side of the space but by re-imagining this as a circular bar in the centre of the room, we increased the counter length without sacrificing any floor space.  We calculated the optimal circumference to achieve the required uplift in speed of service and, as a direct result, bar revenue.  In fact the business observed an immediate increase in revenue of 15% as a result of this.

We are very proud of the work we have done and continue to do here at Divine Design.  While it is lovely to receive the external validation of the various awards and accolades we have earned along the way, the pride and satisfaction that comes from excelling and continuing to innovate in our design work, creating exceptional spaces is what motivates us and the smiles on our clients’ faces are the ultimate reward.

We hope to share more of ourselves with you through this blog as time goes on, giving you insights into life in our design studio, imparting some design knowledge, and hopefully inspiring a passion for thoughtful, dynamic design in our readers.

Divine Design carried out a landmark restoration and refurbishment on Dublin’s Olympia Theatre, a historic and listed building.  The project, which began with a small commission, grew to a large project of a spend of over four million, taking place from June 2015 to September 2017; a showcase of innovative design, thoughtful conservation work and exemplary handling of the complex project management requirements.  The end result has delighted all users, including staff and has supported the improved operating efficiency of the business.

The Olympia Theatre is a Dublin landmark originally designed as a Victorian music hall in the mid-nineteenth century. Divine Design has been extensively involved in the refurbishment of this iconic building. As an historic Victorian building, the fabric of the structure posed major challenges for the refurbishment.  The work we have done in The Olympia includes complete refurbishment of all bars in the theatre, redesign of the seating in the stalls, conservation plasterwork throughout the interior and major repair and renovations to the interior and exterior fabric and the roofs of the building.  All this work has been completed without impacting on the use of the theatre.  The calendar of performances and events can be set years and certainly months in advance and the client and our team were determined not to disrupt the experience of patrons of the Olympia so we worked hard to manage the schedule and open temporary facilities where required in order to keep the theatre open for business throughout.  We have contributed to the bottom line of the theatre through the design as well as the project management.  For instance, the re-design of the bar counters to optimise the serving perimeter and workflows and minimise queuing times has improved speed of service, a crucial design consideration for a theatre when serving times are limited to short intervals before and during a performance.  The effect this redesign had on the revenue of the bar was immediately apparent and the design fee has already paid for itself in increased profits.  The redesign of the seating in the stalls has also improved productivity as staff can now remove all the seating for standing room only events in a fraction of the time that it used to take.  Another example of a practical maintenance concern incorporated into the major design features of the space is the oversize portraits in the Portrait Bar which are custom printed. Throughout the modernisation of the building, the fabric of the building has been carefully conserved and the historic elements of the theatre embraced and highlighted.

Each of the bars had specific requirements based on their location and related function before, during and after performances. For example, it was important that patrons could be served efficiently during intervals in order to optimise the theatre experience and maximise revenue.  The design needed to sit comfortably within the context of the building’s character while reflecting the history of its architectural and commercial evolution.  The key challenges in the brief were firstly to modernise and refurbish while retaining the unique historical ambience and to navigate the constraints imposed by working within a protected structure.

The design process incorporated the operational and commercial requirements of all users involved in the project. For example, the bar staff were interviewed extensively to ensure their concerns were addressed and that the redesign worked for them. The operation of the bar was studied by our designers and operational changes were incorporated into the re-design.  The counters were designed to minimise queuing for patrons and improve user experience. Pre-programmed lighting scenarios were installed to suit different atmospheric needs as the auditorium is used for such a wide variety of performances.

The design for Maureen’s Bar met the brief of creating a functional and aesthetic upgrade through a level of modernisation and full refurbishment. Maureen’s Bar has a unique atmosphere and the photos on each wall collected over decades tell the story of the bar and Maureen herself. In keeping with the brief, Divine Design retained this sense of charm and character. The bespoke lattice metalwork behind the bar, decorative cut wood screen panel in the ceiling, metal scroll sconces, decorative counter brackets and bar are just some of the custom elements designed by Divine Design to fit the historic proportions and enhance the fine period details of the space.

The design for The Portrait Bar involved creating an atmospheric and impactful space that served the needs of all users.  The lighting design was central to the enhancement of the bar’s ambience and the feature wall lights were custom made to a design inspired by the acanthus leaf motif found throughout the building.  During the installation of the design, the period decorative plasterwork was carefully conserved by our craftspeople and highlighted in gold to enhance its aesthetic form.  Practical concerns were incorporated into all elements of the working design.

The Circle Bar and God’s Bar were on the upper seating levels and each bar has its own distinct personality. The brief specified luxurious glamour in the finishes and the client is overjoyed with the result.  The God’s Bar is on the uppermost level and glamorous decadence was the feeling that the client wanted to impart in this space.  The Art Deco inspired scheme for this room was achieved through the use of custom-designed glass panels, joinery and evocative lighting.

The exemplary finish achieved has surpassed the client’s expectations.  As Divine Design were responsible for the design, project management and joinery manufacture by our in-house tradespeople, we could exercise complete control over the standard of finish achieved.

Some of the most noteworthy elements of the Olympia refurbishment:

  • The theatre stayed open throughout the works – enabling all revenue-generating activities to continue a priority when designing the schedule of work
  • Designing opportunities to support and contribute to the profitability of the business, such as the workflow speed of staff at the bars
  • Specialist conservation work on the historic features of the building
  • Balance of retaining the charm and character of the rooms while modernising throughout and creating atmospheric spaces for patrons
  • A cohesive whole with distinct spaces contained within
  • Abundance of bespoke features
  • Working alongside Dublin City Council and DCE to ensure all historical elements are preserved
  • Maintenance-friendly materials and installations, supporting a sustainable life-cycle of the refurbishment

Gwen Kenny is an acclaimed interior designer, known for her personal approach and exacting attention to detail.  Her pursuit of excellence and sustainability in design mark her out from her peers, making her a sought after name by prominent businesspeople, successful professionals and other discerning clients.  She has an unparalleled depth of experience and skill honed over more than 25 years in the industry alongside a wealth of academic qualifications, including her Masters in Professional Design Practice.  Her relentless curiosity and hunger for knowledge give Gwen (and her clients) an advantage in that she is always on top of new products and innovations, combining these to push the boundaries of what is possible.  Gwen also lectures upcoming interior designers at the Dublin Institute of Design.  She has carried out a number of major design projects and refurbishments over the last 12 months including various design works to the historic Olympia Theatre, Teeling Whiskey’s new tasting rooms among other commercial projects and numerous residential projects of all sizes.  Gwen is a regular contributor to the trade press including media, print and TV.

Over more than a decade of commissions in the hospitality, retail and corporate sectors, Gwen has built a strong reputation in all aspects of design and project coordination. She approaches every space with a sympathetic consideration to the history, architecture and function of the building.  Her unparalleled attention to detail ensures that the final product meets the quality of finish and signature character of the client’s vision while also enhancing their business operations.  On residential projects, her personal approach and her mastery of modern luxury combine with a keen understanding of scale and the ability to discern exactly the right elements for each space. She tightly manages every aspect of a project with meticulous attention to detail, from architectural elements down to the finishing touches.  ‘No’ is not a word that Gwen uses in her design work, creating new standards of what is possible through innovation and perseverance.  When inevitable yet unforeseeable site complications arise, Gwen has the contacts and resources to overcome these, having earned her credibility on site through the demonstration of good judgment and knowledge. Her in house team, her collaborators, her own can-do attitude and optimism are enough to get the design to fruition.

The roster of projects she is involved in has grown ever more varied and she has had the good fortune to work with discerning yet trusting clients who allow her to do what she does best, elevating the design of their spaces.  One of the highlights of the 2017, which was recognised by this nomination, has been coming to the end of the process of refurbishing the major parts of the Olympia, some of them highly visible and some unseen but essential cogs in the machine of a working theatre nonetheless. Shaping the front-of-house and backstage spaces through considered and innovative design gets to the essence of what she does in all her work at Divine Design.  Another highlight has been graduating from her Masters in Professional Design Practice with first class honours, attending college while also running Divine Design for 60+ hours a week, being mum to her two sons and lecturing in Dublin Institute of Design.  The energy, commitment and dogged determination she showed to get through the year and still grow the practice are characteristics that her clients come to her for.

Gwen Kenny is an acclaimed interior designer, known for her personal approach and exacting attention to detail.  Her pursuit of excellence and sustainability in design mark her out from her peers, making her a sought after name by prominent businesspeople, successful professionals and other discerning clients.  She has an unparalleled depth of experience and skill honed over more than 25 years in the industry alongside a wealth of academic qualifications, including her Masters in Professional Design Practice.  Her relentless curiosity and hunger for knowledge give Gwen (and her clients) an advantage in that she is always on top of new products and innovations, combining these to push the boundaries of what is possible.  Gwen also lectures upcoming interior designers at the Dublin Institute of Design.  She has carried out a number of major design projects and refurbishments over the last 12 months including various design works to the historic Olympia Theatre, Teeling Whiskey’s new tasting rooms among other commercial projects and numerous residential projects of all sizes.  Gwen is a regular contributor to the trade press including media, print and TV.

Over more than a decade of commissions in the hospitality, retail and corporate sectors, Gwen has built a strong reputation in all aspects of design and project coordination. She approaches every space with a sympathetic consideration to the history, architecture and function of the building.  Her unparalleled attention to detail ensures that the final product meets the quality of finish and signature character of the client’s vision while also enhancing their business operations.  On residential projects, her personal approach and her mastery of modern luxury combine with a keen understanding of scale and the ability to discern exactly the right elements for each space. She tightly manages every aspect of a project with meticulous attention to detail, from architectural elements down to the finishing touches.  ‘No’ is not a word that Gwen uses in her design work, creating new standards of what is possible through innovation and perseverance.  When inevitable yet unforeseeable site complications arise, Gwen has the contacts and resources to overcome these, having earned her credibility on site through the demonstration of good judgment and knowledge. Her in house team, her collaborators, her own can-do attitude and optimism are enough to get the design to fruition.

The roster of projects she is involved in has grown ever more varied and she has had the good fortune to work with discerning yet trusting clients who allow her to do what she does best, elevating the design of their spaces.  One of the highlights of the 2017, which was recognised by this nomination, has been coming to the end of the process of refurbishing the major parts of the Olympia, some of them highly visible and some unseen but essential cogs in the machine of a working theatre nonetheless. Shaping the front-of-house and backstage spaces through considered and innovative design gets to the essence of what she does in all her work at Divine Design.  Another highlight has been graduating from her Masters in Professional Design Practice with first class honours, attending college while also running Divine Design for 60+ hours a week, being mum to her two sons and lecturing in Dublin Institute of Design.  The energy, commitment and dogged determination she showed to get through the year and still grow the practice are characteristics that her clients come to her for.

We were delighted to have been recognised for excellence in project management at the Fit Out Awards this year.  As one of only 2 shortlisted firms, our reputation for meticulous fit outs and our firm’s skills in coordination across multi-disciplinary teams has distinguished Divine Design from the competition again this year.  We were nominated for this award in recognition of our work on the landmark restoration and refurbishment of The Olympia Theatre along with other noteworthy commercial and residential projects.  We have a track record of creating beautiful, functional and sustainable spaces for our clients, on time and within budget and our work in the historic Olympia Theatre and throughout the year has continued in that tradition.

The Olympia project included complete refurbishment of all the bars in the theatre, redesign of the seating in the stalls, conservation plasterwork throughout the interior and major repair and renovations to the roof of the building.  All this work has been done without impacting on the theatre calendar.  This required meticulous schedule planning and management and the construction of temporary facilities where required.

Some of the most noteworthy elements of the Olympia refurbishment that we are particularly proud of:

  • The theatre stayed open throughout the works – enabling all revenue-generating activities to continue was a priority so we had to be exceptionally resourceful when designing the programme of work
  • Creatively coming up with design opportunities to support and contribute to the profitability of the business, such as the workflow speed of staff at the bars
  • Specialist conservation work on the historic features of the building
  • Balance of retaining the charm and character of the rooms while modernising throughout and creating cutting-edge atmospheric spaces for patrons
  • Abundance of innovative solutions implemented by Divine Design, from taking the initiative to print the feature portraits on bleach clean-able wallpaper for durability and the decision to inset LED lights within their frames so they were lit from within, to minimising errors in the construction of the bars through an original method whereby an iterative process was used to collaborate between teams so all were involved and up to date at all times
  • Maintenance-friendly materials and installations were employed throughout, supporting a sustainable life-cycle of the refurbishment

Other highlights of the last year for us that were considered when determining our nomination for this award were the completion of a tasting space for the Irish Whiskey Museum, further commissions from Teeling Whiskey Distillery and a number of luxury residential projects.  We are always glad to see how our team’s skills have attracted the distinction of again being nominated for such prestigious awards in our field.  We continually strive to differentiate ourselves in relation to:

  • Our excellent communication skills within the teams of professionals needed to bring a project to fruition as well as with the client to convey how the brief has been interpreted and fulfilled
  • Our technical and materials knowledge and awareness of the latest technological developments in interior architecture
  • Our problem solving abilities, an essential skill when delivering on the tight deadlines of our projects and
  • Our understanding of our clients’ commercial concerns, which means that our projects support and contribute to achieving their strategic business objectives through the design of their space

Divine Design have a reputation for creating beautiful, functional and sustainable spaces for our clients, on time and within budget and the last year has seen that tradition grow. We have carried out a landmark restoration and refurbishment on The Olympia Theatre along with other noteworthy commercial and residential projects.

We are an interior design studio based in Dublin with a reputation for innovation and quality, specialising in the restoration of period buildings and in sustainable and environmentally friendly design. Established in 2004, we have executed projects for high profile commercial and residential clients, creating refined and memorable spaces. We love being inspired by each client’s unique needs and wishes to deliver a customised creative concept, meticulous project management and an exemplary finish and craftsmanship. We have built many long-lasting relationships with clients, often executing numerous design projects for an individual or business. Our work has been featured in dozens of Irish print and online publications and TV shows including The Irish Times, Irish Independent, Ireland’s Homes, Interiors & Living along with RTE’s Room to Improve, About the House and many more.

Key projects:

The Olympia Theatre: The work we have completed in The Olympia includes complete refurbishment of all the bars in the theatre, redesign of the seating in the stalls, conservation plasterwork throughout the interior and major repair and renovations to the roof of the building.  All this work has been done without impacting on the use of the theatre.  The calendar of performances and events can be set years and certainly months in advance and the client and our team were determined not to disrupt the experience of patrons of the Olympia so we worked hard to manage the schedule and open temporary facilities where required in order to keep the theatre open for business throughout. We have contributed to the bottom line of the theatre through the design as well as the project management.  For instance, the re-design of the bar counter to optimise the serving perimeter and minimise queuing times has improved speed of service, a crucial design consideration for a theatre when serving times are limited to short intervals before and during a performance.  The effect this redesign had on the revenue of the bar was immediately apparent and the design fee has already paid for itself in increased profits.  The redesign of the seating in the stalls has also improved productivity as staff can now remove all the seating for standing room only events in a fraction of the time that it used to take.  Another example of a practical concern incorporated into the major design features of the space is the oversize portraits in the Portrait Bar which are custom printed. Throughout the modernisation of the building, the fabric of the building has been carefully conserved and the historic elements of the theatre embraced and highlighted. 

The design for Maureen’s Bar included both a functional and aesthetic upgrade through a level of modernisation and full refurbishment. Maureen’s Bar has a unique atmosphere and the photos on each wall collected over decades tell the story of the bar and Maureen herself. In keeping with the brief, Divine Design retained this sense of charm and character. The bespoke lattice metalwork behind the bar, decorative cut wood screen panel in the ceiling, metal scroll sconces, decorative counter brackets and bar are just some of the custom elements designed by Divine Design to fit the historic proportions and enhance the fine period details of the space.

The design for The Portrait Bar involved creating an atmospheric and impactful space that served the needs of all users.  The lighting design was central to the enhancement of the bar’s ambience and the feature wall lights were custom made to a design inspired by the acanthus leaf motif found throughout the building.  During the installation of the design, the period decorative plasterwork was carefully conserved and highlighted in gold to enhance its aesthetic form. Practical concerns were incorporated into all elements of the working design, to meet modern health and safety standards.

The Circle Bar and God’s Bar, on the upper seating levels, each bar has its own distinct personality.  The brief specified luxurious glamour in the finishes, the client and the public are thrilled with the end result.  The God’s Bar is on the uppermost level and glamourous decadence was the feeling that the client wanted to impart in this space.  The Art Deco inspired scheme for this room was achieved through the use of custom-designed glass panels, joinery and evocative lighting.

http://www.independent.ie/life/home-garden/interiors/improve-your-mirror-image-30111484.html