Collaborations bring forth more than the sum of their parts. This statement finds true resonance in the artworks produced by the creative partnership of John Healy and Denise Hofler.
By Mairéad Moriarty
Out of their union – both personal and professional – has grown H&H Design, a company that marries 21st century design with ancient artisanal woodwork techniques, producing bespoke handcrafted artworks in sustainable wood.
Four Generations … and Counting
“Denise brings her years of print design experience to our business,”explains Brosna native John Healy.
“My contribution is a lifelong passion and familiarity of working and creating in the medium of wood.”
The familiarity that John references is three generations of Healy carpenters and woodworkers. Forming an unbroken chain through his family tree, from his great grandfather through to present day, you could say there’s something elemental in his DNA.
An inherited intuitive skill, something intangible, that seems to find form and expression in the beautifully ingrained textures of H&H’s bespoke designs.
Always Tinkering Around
“I was always tinkering around, making things as a child. I can recall being very at ease handling woodwork tools at a young age, shadowing my grandfather, building my affinity with my trade.”
This interest and aptitude took John into his career as a carpenter and joiner. It was the creative restrictions of working on large scale building projects in Europe that redirected John’s life and he returned to Ireland to study Engineering in Dublin.
“All the while I was at college studying engineering, I had a side business in carpentry on the go – I never fully stepped away from my first calling.”
An Eye for Detail
Denise Hofler’s love of design can be traced back to her childhood in Limerick.
“Sketching and drawing was my favourite pastime as a child. I studied art all the way to Leaving Cert but, at the time, couldn’t really envisage how to incorporate my passion for drawing into a career.”
A qualification in computer applications from LIT coupled with in-house training with a design company allowed Denise to use her flawless eye for detail and creative skill.
It was during her 15 years in the corporate world that she learned how to produce 2-D drawings that would form the basis of the finished 3-D artwork.
“I find it’s a very collaborative process designing something. Our clients talk me through their requirements, sharing images and stories that help clarify what it is they wish to achieve”, explains Denise. “It’s my job to turn their ideas into a tangible yet evocative design”.
From Little Acorns …
John’s return to Brosna coupled with meeting Denise was when the seeds of designing and working in wood began to germinate.
Ultimately, it would take the disruption of the pandemic and ensuing lock-downs to bring into being their company, H&H Design Detail.
For the first time, Denise and John had space to really put into practice something they had talked about for a while.
“We had worked together on some unique wood sculptures for ourselves and friends over the years. It was such an enjoyable process but one we never really thought about as a business”, John explains.
Before long, Denise and John realised that the quality of their products and how they work in a way that’s considerate to the environment, were valuable commodities in the world today.
A Family Coat of Arms
“For example, a traditional piece like a family coat of arms has a greater intrinsic value when carved into sustainably sourced Irish hard woods and produced as a bespoke commission,” explains Denise.
“From the start of the process when John carefully chooses each piece of wood, through to the packaging and shipping, we uphold the values we set down for ourselves from the very start”.
For John it’s all about respecting the wood.
Starts Life As A Living Entity
“Well, it starts its life as a living entity. Every piece of oak, beech or ash we use has a unique grain that speaks of its age and history. The topography of the grain is as distinctive as a fingerprint.
No two commissions are ever the same.
There’s a very different texture and weight to each piece I work with. We owe it to the wood to create something lasting and beautiful”.
As part of the story around sustainability, HH Design plants a tree for every product sold.
Company’s Ecological Credentials
“From the very beginning, we had a personal goal around the ecological credentials of our company. Planting trees first and foremost replenishes the wood source. It’s part of our action plan around sustainability and offsetting our carbon footprint”, they explain.
With a client base across five continents as well as brand collaborations, business is brisk.
“Our national and international client bases are responding really well to our product range” adds Denise. “What could be lovelier than having a hand-crafted bespoke piece of Ireland, translated into something of personal meaning, in your home?”
Hand-Crafted Heirloom Piece
Whether it’s the simplicity and fun of the kids growth wall rulers or a personalised and complex wood sculpture, the end result is a hand-crafted heirloom piece.
“We extend the lifecycle of these majestic trees by creating one-off pieces that draw forth the natural beauty of the wood,” John elaborates.
“Our artworks are a vehicle to immortalise a meaningful message for our clients.
“Our commissions end up as beautiful interior design features that can add an organic texture to any space” continues Denise.
“They are the ultimate thoughtful gift for yourself or someone you love.”
H&H Design’s website says that imagination is the only limitation when it comes to original design. With Denise and John, there seems to be no limit to that particular resource!
Contact: www.hhdesigndetail.com or Facebook’s H&H Design or call 087 132 6287.
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