Today we are delighted to introduce Mr Walnut Grey (aka Gerard McGuickin) from Walnut Grey Design who has hand-selected his favourite products.
We also questioned him on his personal design style, his inspirations and his heroes. The interview is a great insight into one of our favourite design writers, so sit back and have a read!
Hello Gerard, what inspired you to write your blog, Walnut Grey Design?
I wanted to add my voice to the discourse around ‘what is good design’. The key word in your question for me is ‘write’. Too many design blogs are satisfied to ply the reader with pictures, having little narration or opinion. I wanted to offer much more than pretty pictures, whilst at the same time aspiring to be original, innovative and discerning with my blogging. I was also aware that the design blogging world needed another male voice. There aren’t enough of us boys out there.
Do you have a particular favourite style when it comes to design and interiors?
I have a penchant for masculine interiors but my definition of masculine includes a connection with emotion, feelings and warmth. Whilst I love stark interiors, my preference is to soften these with textures such as wood or wool and to add colour highlights.
I’m a fan of urban elements including grey, steel and concrete and love the juxtaposition of midcentury styling with contemporary modern styling.
You mention on your blog that you live in a ‘walnutgreyite apartment’ in a converted bakery which sounds wonderful – can you describe it for us?
Ha… ‘walnutgreyite’. How pretentious of me (and I like it). I guess ‘The Bakery’ is something of a landmark building in Belfast. Originally the Ormeau Bakery, it opened in 1890 and was once Ireland’s largest bakery. It was closed in 2004, with redevelopment of the Ormeau Bakery as ‘The Bakery’ commencing in 2005. Ormeau Bakery still makes bread etc. but on a different site. The developer was respectful of the Ormeau Bakery’s past, maintaining and updating the old entrance hall for example.
My apartment fronts onto the vibrant Ormeau Road. It’s in the original part of the Ormeau Bakery and so enjoys high ceilings and floor to ceiling windows. Every wall has now been ‘washed’ with grey and I have styled the space in my own imitable style – no fads, masculine, urbane, ordered, aesthetically appealing and welcoming. My city haven.
Who are your heroes, either in real life or fiction?
Dolly Parton – she designs it her way and has always remained true to both her values and her roots.
The Eames' – Charles and Ray were notable design visionaries and truly inspire me.
The Golden Girls – Dorothy, Rose, Blanche and Sophia are what friendship is all about.
Ricky Martin – he is just steaming hot Puerto Rican sex on legs. And his autobiography, ‘Me’, is filled with much heartfelt wisdom.
If you could only choose one, what would be your ‘must-have’ furniture or lighting design item and why?
Well I’ve talked about this chair so many times now… my one ‘must have’ is Hans J. Wegner’s CH07 Shell Chair (which turns 50 this year). The Shell Chair embody’s good design. Its midcentury styling remains relevant in both form and poise. It imbues a sense of calm, is graceful and just makes me smile. The Shell Chair is one of those design pieces that I will always run to whenever I see it.
Of course I feel slightly fraudulent saying all of this as I don’t yet own a Shell Chair. My parents have promised to help rectify that situation as soon as possible!
Do you have a motto you live by?
Always stay true to yourself.
What blogs and magazines are you reading at the moment?
Monocle is my favourite zine and outshines all the rest. It’s both aspirational and inspirational. I love brand Tyler Brûlé and believe that Walnut Grey and my approach to design makes me a good ambassador for Monocle. I’m determined to interview Tyler and I want to write for Monocle!