March 23 2011
Though barely 31, the Irish craftsman Joseph Walsh, based in Co Cork, has become one of the most sought-after names in furniture, the most successful Irish designer internationally since Eileen Gray. His distinctive free-flowing style and sinuous, curvilinear forms – as seen in his acclaimed Enignum canopy bed – make his work highly coveted by private collectors and museums alike.
A spectacular 12ft-long table in burr olive ash with a price tag of $145,000 was sold at the Design Miami fair in December to the distinguished South American architect Rafael Viñoly for his private house in Uruguay. Walsh’s creative flair and bravura technical skills have also attracted Swarovski, who commissioned him, in the wake of Ron Arad and Zaha Hadid, to make an installation for its Crystal Palace exhibition this year.
One of a family of nine and self-taught, Walsh started learning about woodwork at the age of eight from his grandfather and had his first commission at 15. But it was a visit to London’s Geffrye Museum that opened his eyes to John Makepeace and the power of furniture as a form of expression. His studio and workshop are in a converted potato barn on the family farm near Kinsale and living in rural Ireland is central to his work and inspiration. Along with private commissions, he will exhibit at fairs in London, Paris, Milan and New York in the coming months, with a solo show in Dublin at the Oliver Sears gallery in October.
First picture: Enignim table. Second picture: Enignim canopy bed.