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Niamh Mahon. Photo by: Niamh Mahon

In Focus - Meath native Niamh Mahon’s move from forensic psychology to interior design

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Niamh Mahon. Photo by: Niamh Mahon

When and why did you move to the U.S.?

“I moved to New York to study interior design. New York is at the center of all aspects of design and it was always a dream of mine to study here. In 2009 I got accepted into the New York School of Interior Design and the rest is history.”

How did you end up studying design after you previously studied forensic psychology?

“To be honest it was by pure coincidence. I moved back to Ireland and was looking for an interim job. I was hired to run a design firm, called Fitzmawn Interiors in Dublin in 2005, and I instantly fell in love with the field and was lucky enough to work with many talented interior designers in Ireland. From the first week I knew this was the profession I wanted to spend my life working in.”

Was it hard to adjust to studying in the U.S. versus Ireland, and what was this experience like?

“It was an extremely different experience. In Ireland I was used to hundreds of people in my class but the school I went to in U.S. offered an extremely personalized education, with less than 12 in each class. There was no room to hide in the back of the class, that’s for sure.”

What inspires you when you are designing a space?

“Every project is different. The process varies dramatically. It can range from the people you are working with, to the environment, to inspirations from traveling around the world.”

What has been the most memorable project you have worked on?

“A medical center on Fifth Avenue. It was my first solo project out of school. So although it was daunting it was a great personal achievement of mine. It was an integrative health center so I got to concentrate on how design and the surrounding environment can influence human behavior, which is an area I was always interested in.”

What is your favorite building in Ireland and New York?

“In Ireland, the Headfort House in Co. Meath was always a favorite of mine. I particularly love the newly restored Robert Adam Ballroom. In New York, it’s Radio City Music Hall. I’m a huge fan of Art Deco and its design influences.”

What is your top tip for someone interested in giving a space a design makeover?

“Hire a great interior designer!”

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