Luck is a recurring theme in Irish folklore, yet it has little to do with Orior’s 40-year history as one of Ireland’s leading furniture designers and manufacturers. Founded by Brian and Rosie McGuigan, the company, which now has a budding presence in the United States as well as in its native Ireland, is a tale of tenacity and family ties.
Brian and Rosie launched Orior in 1979 in their hometown of Newry following a stint living abroad in Copenhagen. Endlessly inspired by the presence of design in Danish life, the young couple returned to Ireland to start a furniture company. As Ciarán McGuigan – Brian and Rosie’s son and the company’s Creative Director – explains, this was a tumultuous time. “It was the height of Northern Ireland’s troubles,” he says, adding, “it was grey – not only in terms of interiors and furniture, but the mood politically, so for them to start a high-end furniture company is crazy to comprehend now.”
As audacious as it may have been, Brian and Rosie’s fortitude has brewed continued success for over four decades, including representation by the likes of Liberty London and Selfridges, followed by the company’s expansion to the United States in 2019 – a move spearheaded by Ciarán. Pleasingly, though, it is a friends and family business in every sense. Ciarán’s sister Katie Ann, a celebrated fashion designer, brings her creative mind and aptitude for textiles; many of the company’s earliest employees – mostly neighbours, friends and relatives – remain involved; and Orior’s Head of Design is an old school mate of Ciarán’s from Savannah College of Art and Design.
Though Orior’s identity is firmly rooted in its Irish heritage, New York City represents the company’s nascent creative centre. “New York is completely and utterly energising,” Ciarán says, adding, “it’s where we get our energy and incubate ideas.” With a small team working from the SoHo flagship and adjoining studio space, it is a hub of ingenuity in the heart of one of the city’s most vibrant neighbourhoods. Here, conversations become concepts, which are then scrutinised and prototyped by Orior’s skilled artisans in Ireland. “It’s an incredibly fortunate set up,” Ciarán shares. “We can design something in New York, jump on a flight and speak directly to our makers within 24 hours.”
It is a process grounded in education and experimentation, elevated by robust dialogue, the push-pull of family relationships and an inexorable Irish energy. “We absolutely kill each other,” Ciarán laughs. Ultimately, though, this spirited approach is the impetus for the level of excellence Orior is synonymous with. By leaning into the company’s many varied resources – from the dexterity of some of its longest-standing makers and Brian and Rosie’s unmatched experience, to New York City’s dynamism – its relevance is upheld, and its rich history championed.
Fittingly, Orior’s furniture collection is a genuine extension of this ethos. Deeply considered and crafted with intent, each piece illustrates the company’s enduring philosophy through exceptional detailing and an edgy design sensibility, which sees familiar tropes reimagined in unfamiliar ways. Shapes are exaggerated and materials are mixed yet these characterful forms are infinitely refined. Further, local materials such as Irish bog ash and recycled Irish crystal make regular appearances alongside timberwork and French and Italian leathers.
The Easca Coffee Table, for example, features a puddle-shaped Irish crystal top resting on four monolithic-like teardrop legs crafted from Irish green marble – one of the oldest stones in the world, sourced from Ireland’s west coast. It is a stunning illustration of Orior’s craft-driven rationale and bold aesthetic values. “Owen, who makes this piece, is one of a handful of guys in the world who can cast to that thickness,” Ciarán shares, emphasising the skill and significance of the company’s makers. “I’m really proud to work with all of them,” he says.
This sentiment speaks to Ciarán’s refreshing humility and – contrary to the evidence of honest, hard work and perseverance – he says good fortune and serendipity have figured in Orior’s progressive trajectory, too. Further, he redirects praise to his parents, saying, “there are so many layers to what we do but my job is easy. Brian and Rosie had the grunt, grit and determination to create Orior and drive it in the early days. So, for me, its success exists in that legacy, which I hope will continue for the next 40 years.”