The spa industry is built on two pillars: spaces and experiences. We host our clients in beautiful, pristine spaces that evoke a sense of calm and relaxation while we craft thoughtful and memorable experiences that our guests are eager to repeat.
Clodagh is a pro at both of these things. With an extensive and extraordinary background in multiple branches of design, she’s an expert when it comes to designing for real life, real experiences, and real care. Her personal philosophy rooted in “Why not?” has taken her to cities around the globe and her masterful understanding of how nature, wellness, comfort, and quality intersect have made her an iconic and authoritative voice in the design world for decades.
We had the privilege to sit down with Clodagh to discuss spas, sustainability, wellness and more.
Q: You’ve lived all over the world—Ireland, Spain, New York—how have your travels influenced the way you approach design?
A: I’ve been to 120 countries; I love travel. It’s very useful—learning new language, what other cultures show you, how things are presented, how light and shadow transforms a landscape. Those moments become inner videos you play back. When I close my eyes, I can take myself to Bali, to Spain, to anywhere I want to be for a few moments, and I see something I want to recapture or incorporate in a project. You can’t put a price on what travel gives you.
Q: Sustainability and wellness have become trendy terms nowadays, what does it mean to you to truly create sustainably and build spaces that are designed for wellness?
A: I have always been into sustainability. Today it’s become a trendy term but it’s better to greenwash than not wash at all. Nature has so many positive effects on design and the human experience. It’s not about possessions; we design and create to make our life good. The spaces we create and live in should take care of us, not require us to take care of them.
Q: How do you balance timeless elements of design with what’s currently on trend?
A: Trend is a dirty word to me. It’s meaningless. Instead, I think there is a larger movement in design to make things work better and to be more comfortable. We have to go beyond the interior. The most important thing you can do is create a space that makes you feel good.
Q: When it comes to spas and spaces for relaxation, what pieces matter the most? Do you have any tips you can share with spa directors and owners?
A: The nicest thing I can say is “I feel safe with you”. So, these spaces have to be safe and private. You’re designing experiences. You need to factor in the acoustics, lighting, storage, amenities. You need to address the senses and address every human need. It’s about making someone totally at ease.
Q: How do you get started in a re-design or design refresh?
A: Renovations are challenging. You’re stripping things, coloring things differently, creating a new entity, provoking emotions. We take our time doing interviews and going deep to uncover what’s best for the client. We act like a travel guide to not only get you where you want to be but show you things you wouldn’t think of or be exposed to otherwise.
Q: As someone creating wellness spaces what does “The Art of Care” mean to you?
A: We’re giving people ease of self. We previously worked on a hospital unit dedicated to radical heart surgery recovery. We incorporated greenery, streams, a reflecting pool—places for grounding, which is exactly where wellbeing comes from. The body is king or queen. We dress the body in clothes and uniforms that are comfortable, flexible, allow movement. But then we need to think about how to care for the mind and soul. We have to think about how people really live. How do we make the soul comfortable? That’s the art of care.