5 Minutes With.... Irish Architect David Leyden

David Leyden's Creative Design Process Will Have You Re-Thinking Your Home Or Office Layout.... We Caught Up With Him To Discover Why He's So Sought-After.

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Q: How would you describe your design aesthetic?

DL: I describe it as responsive reduction; the client’s brief, site context, and constraints are responded to while the design is reduced to a simple and clear expression of the solution or concept. I like to use simple and clearly expressed spatial forms and natural earthy materials while attempting to introduce playfulness through the use of colour. I’m not a fan of unnecessary detail or embellishment and will always try to design this out.

Q: What is the first thing you do when you sit down to sketch:

DL: It depends on what I am sketching, but I try to establish understanding and clarity of design intent before putting stylus to screen.

Q: What are your favourite parts of the design process?

DL: The beginning and the end; all the hard work is done in the middle! The beginning of each project is always exciting and brimming full of potential. The end is satisfying as you get to reveal a fully realised design to a happy client. Usually, it’s only at completion that a design can be fully appreciated and it’s really satisfying to see clients that may have doubted a design during the process to be blown away on completion.


Q: Do you have a favourite project?

DL: My current favourite is a small refurb project, Gordon Arthouse which I was involved in for an art collector near Grand Canal Dock. It was a small project which required a simple architectural intervention to unlock the potential of the house. One of the most satisfying elements of the project was that I was given full control of the design right down to the interior fit out, lighting and furniture selection which allowed me to fully realise an undiluted concept for all elements of the project.

(images of Gordon Street above and below by Philip Lauterbach).

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Q: Where do you find Inspiration?

DL: These days most of it comes from online design magazines but I also draw on experiences from studying, travelling and working overseas. I enjoy travel and have studied in Denmark, lived in Asia and worked in Australia so these varied experiences influence my work.

Q: Favourite building in the world?

That’s a tricky question and the assessment criteria would constantly be in a state of flux. I suppose the Pantheon in Rome is a good old reliable; it’s such an amazingly powerful space to experience. From the classic modernists, Mies’ Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin would be a favourite; I love its singular expression. A project that caught my attention recently is Heatherwick Studio’s art gallery created from a repurposed grain silo in South Africa. I haven’t been but it looks amazing on paper.

I’m also a big fan of the Spanish architect Alberto Campo Baeza’s work.

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Q: What are the key principles you consider on every project?

Daylight is probably the first thing I take into consideration. I try to use light to enhance people’s experience of space, so it plays a big role in everything I design. Client requirements are obviously a massive consideration in the process, but beyond that, the other principles would be creating beautiful and environmentally sustainable spaces which are uplifting to be in; how that is achieved varies from project-to-project.

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Q: Can you tell us about recent and upcoming projects:

DL: A domestic refurb and extension on Blackglen Road close to Lambe Doyles which is nearing completion; it has been designed to take advantage of the amazing views of the city and Dublin Bay. I can’t wait for the scaffolding to come down so the client can finally take in the spectacular views.

The construction phase of a two-house residential project in Howth will be commencing shortly. The project is located on an amazing site overlooking Howth Harbour which the houses take full advantage of.

And, I am also working on an interesting new yoga space called The Space Between on Fenian Street which should open over the summer months. LUCA Architecture is collaborating with me on this project which is very exciting.


Q: Do you get involved in the entire aesthetic process of each project, right down to the furniture?

DL: Ideally that would be the case on every project as it offers an opportunity for me to deliver a fully realised and considered design to my clients. I really enjoy the process of working with my clients to deliver something special. 

(image above and below by Philip Lauterbach).


David used CA Design Cherner-style walnut counter stools here in this recent project. Shop them HERE


More furniture chosen by David for a residential project: the Grasshopper-style lamp from CA Design, left. Shop them HERE. And AJ-style desk lamp Shop them HERE and Universo Positivo side table in a recent project. Shop them

LHA architecture is an architectural design studio in Dublin 6. It is a full-service architectural firm with a collaborative approach and over 50 years experience in design across a range of projects from domestic to commercial. LHA architecture believes in practical design, using the latest and most ecologically sustainable materials and techniques.

"I believe great design brings clarity. Ultimately though, great design is about people, and my relationship with my clients is at the heart of my practice. They are the starting point of every project, and I put trust and honesty at the heart of that relationship." 

Got an upcoming project David could help with? Get in touch with him HERE

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