Aviation enthusiast Ciara O’Toole’s passion for flying has taken her on an unexpected route – into the bespoke furniture game. Forty-two-year-old O’Toole gained her private pilot's licence in 2011, having been instructed on sea planes while living near Italy’s Lake Como. Last year she discovered it was possible to acquire major components from decommissioned aircraft, which she set about repurposing into all manner of items, ranging from tables to cocktail cabinets.
Naming the business Amelia after the celebrated 1930s aviatrix Amelia Earhart, who became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic, O’Toole sourced several parts from a Boeing 737 she found set aside for dismantling at Ireland's Knock West airport, having served 60,000 hours in the skies. With Irish furniture and lighting designer Shane Holland she has developed a core collection of objects to showcase her idea and is now taking individual commissions.
The initial pieces (€9,000-€45,000) include the imposing 12-seater Amelia conference table (€42,250, first picture), which features an oval-shaped glass top with a titanium fuel access door in its centre and a series of 12 metal “stilts” attaching it to one of the 737's engine casings. The casing has been authentically heat-scorched by burning aviation fuel and sits on 10 individually crafted feet. The Slipstream table, meanwhile, (€15,750, second picture) adds a glass top and a Carrara marble base to the flap track fairing of a Boeing wing .
One commission, for a London-based customer, also makes use of a 737 flap track fairing, transforming it into a 2m-high, LED-lit shelving unit on a base of Irish Valentia slate. “Commissions can be a table, a light, a standout piece for an office, or even an outdoor sculpture. Sometimes clients want a specific aircraft piece that we will source for them, then we work in partnership with talented craftspeople to deliver exquisite bespoke pieces. We always source pieces from aircraft that we know the history and heritage of,” says O'Toole, who is currently gathering components that will enable her to create bespoke designs based on vintage and military aircraft.