After more than two decades in Belgium and London, fashion industry insider JO FARRELLY returned to turn an OFFICE BUILDING into a COOL FAMILY HOME, an homage to the lifestyle brand she has big plans for …
During Jo Farrelly’s nearly 30-year career in the fashion industry, she reinvented some of the most iconic brands, among them Levi’s and Topshop, and more recently Whistles. Her latest project is Stable, a new Irish luxury lifestyle brand, which she has been quietly involved with since 2015. Jo joins forces with co-founders of Stable, Sonia Reynolds and Francie Duff who have already gained a following for Stable among discerning, design-savvy consumers. Their aim is to continue to develop and grow Stable into an international brand. Stable’s uniqueness and passion is about being at the heart of its supply chain – the weavers, mills, craftspeople and producers whose aesthetic Stable has reinvented in a very contemporary, luxe way.
The first step in laying the foundation for her career as a brand expert and marketeer, was getting her degree in business from Trinity, and securing an internship at Levi’s European headquarters in Brussels. Ten years in Brussels, focusing on her love of product quality, heritage, provenance and detail, was followed by a stint at Topshop, where Jo’s remit was to make high street shopping cool again. Helping turn Topshop into what The Guardian termed the “once so famously naff, now just as famously cool” crown jewel of Philip Green’s Arcadia empire, set the trend for the high street for years to come.
During her tenure, Topshop showed at London Fashion Week for the first time, and launched the first designer collaborations – notably with Christopher Kane, Richard Nicoll and Kate Moss – an initiative copied widely since. Re-defining the brand worked, and Jo’s next move was to join forces with former colleagues and buy out the Whistles business. Following five years as business owner and marketing director, Jo decided to take a step back from the day to day, becoming a consultant to Whistles and to industry start-ups in need of advice on building their brand.
With the move back to Ireland, two sons to bring up, and a better work/life balance a priority, Jo welcomed the opportunity to join forces with Sonia and Francie to establish the Stable brand in 2015. “I am passionate about the Stable brand and what it stands for. I believe Irish textiles are among the best in the world.” Having gained a reputation for beautiful blankets and scarves in wool, linen and more recently cashmere, Stable has branched out into the world of interiors with a range of luxurious towels, bedlinen, cushions, throws and blankets. With an increased desire among customers to seek out interesting and authentic products, it is already a hit with its customers overseas, not to mention those who visit its Westbury Mall flagship store.
Jo’s approach to the renovation of Hollyville, an iconic building (its history dating back to 1830 is a interesting and chequered one) in the heart of Monkstown was as focused as her ambitions for Stable. Taking pleasure from setting out her creative vision for the brand was a similar experience to making a plan to return a rundown office building back to its former role as a family home, while making it suitable for modern family living.
While many viewers just could not see the potential of Hollyville, its appeal for Jo and her husband was obvious: “It reminded me of the typical maison d’maître style of Belgian townhouse, and of the New York brownstone.” Inspired by both, Jo worked with architect Neil Burke Kennedy and builder John Ryan on two fronts, firstly to bring back the beauty of the building’s period features and secondly to add to its appeal by reworking the layout to make it more contemporary. Both architect and builder welcomed Jo’s intention to avoid repetitive pastiche in favour of an individual approach. Jo credits Burke Kennedy for his clever solutions to bringing light in and for creating a wonderfully grand hall and superbly functioning kitchen/dining/living space. Jo’s own approach to furnishing and styling at home echoes the Stable values: a respect for craftsmanship and quality, a love of colour and luxury, and a desire to use materials that endure, are sustainable and undeniably of the moment. www.stable.ie.
The living room with mid-century sideboard, an original John and Sylvia Reid design. The sofa is by Zanotta. The throw is Stable handwoven herringbone blanket from Donegal.
Textiles throughout the house are by Stable, including the bespoke Irish tweed curtains in the hall. The reclaimed parquet, from a tobacco barn in the US, was sourced from O’Flynn’s Flooring.
The open-plan kitchen is simply but beautifully conceived. The worktops are Caesarstone, by Miller Bros, and the louvred mahogany detailing brings the warmth of the parquet wood flooring to the cabinets.
Jo likes the simple luxury of natural materials and craftsmanship and brings that into the house. “It’s the Stable ethos: many of the best textiles are Irish.” The traditional handmade Potato Scriob basket is also by Stable.
Bespoke Irish tweed “Gorse” curtains by Stable are in rich contrast to the dark walls in the master bedroom, the wardrobe is made of walnut.
The Stable bathrobe inspired by a 1930’s kimono worn by Stable co-founder Francie Duff’s father.
Photographs by Simon Watson.
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