Lucy Downes is a designer born in Ireland, growing up between the mountains of Wicklow and the city of Dublin.
From a young age, Lucy was immersed in the modern architecture, design and painting movements in Ireland. She has always been drawn to botanical structures, for instance by the way the sepals of a flower open out, enveloping while unveiling, the precious petals inside. She admires simple, understated shapes such as Tapio Wirkkala’s glass, the ceramics of Hella Jongerius, and the work of Alexander Calder, belying their complicated techniques. She strives to marry these influences with ergonomic lines of the body and the beautiful inherent qualities of knitted medium - drape, stretch, volume and texture.
These inspirations, together with a 1st class honours degree in fashion design, a number of awards and 10 years as a designer for Donna Karan New York, inform her conceptual process, while post-graduate scholarship award to Shima seiki, world leaders in knitwear technology, underpins the technical strength of her work.
Each season at the Sphere One studio in Dublin, Ireland, new styles are conceived, using draping, folding and stitch techniques to develop original designs and intelligent features. Clever detailing and an innovative palette are the hallmarks of every collection, with many of the colours bespoke dyed for Sphere One.
“Colour lab dipping and combining are my favourite parts of the design process,” says Lucy. “Ever since I spent time tea-staining fabrics at Donna Karan to achieve the perfect antique hue, I have been captivated by the subtleties and beauty of colour.”
Her work is permeated by colours and textures of her homeland, in particular Wicklow where she spent a lot of her childhood. She recalls;
“From the ombréd amber of the little river Liffey, to the textures of the local granite, sometimes a granular golden sand, sometimes a generous hefty blob of bluish grey sculpted by the tumbles of the river, sometimes and enormous thunder coloured slab, used for a window lintel or chiselled into a saddle stone traditionally used to save crops from damp and rodents, always with the lively wink of silver.
The vistas of river valley and distant hills shift in hue throughout the year. Vast swathes of purple heather on the hills turn to brown. A sprinkling of white arrives with the Hawthorn flower. Later the bracken emits its dusky scent and dries to a rusty orange carpet. Under the grove of the nearby Scots pine grow wild mulberry bushes, and purple moor grass. From autumn this grass bleaches, blowing in stunning contrast to the sculptural canopy of Sessile oak and Scots pine. Close up are glossy, bright green mosses and ferns, speckled fox-gloves, charming primroses and the cheeky bobbing bog cotton.”