The luminous Leeson Park house by designer John Rocha for 3.95 million euros
âBalance and proportion are the foundations of good design,â says John Rocha, one of Ireland’s most notable fashion designers. Originally from Hong Kong, after studying design at the Croydon School of Art in the UK, he arrived in Dublin in 1978, and so began the long relationship between Irish fashion and the friendly couturier.
Its brand, though it has seen its share of ups and downs, trades in a cachet of quality that has served many collaborations, from glass design with Waterford Crystal to residential, leisure and hotel projects around the world.
He is now semi-retired at the age of 67: âOne of the reasons why I stopped [in 2014] I had never spent a single Chinese New Year in Hong Kong, as it always coincided with Fashion Week, so I wanted to do it before my mom passed away. Daughter Simone, who followed her father into design, was another reason: “I thought there was no point in competing with my own daughter: Simone would have a show on Tuesday and mine would be the next day.” With the advent of his second grandchild – expected this week – and three children now living in London, he and his wife Odette have made London their permanent base.
Their Dublin home, a Victorian grande dame at 43 Leeson Park in Ranelagh which they bought about 20 years ago, is truly something. It was in 11 beds and Rocha spent a year planning her conversion into a family home. His Dublin-based company, Three Moon Design, employed two architects at the time, as Rocha got into architectural design after working with architects Douglas Wallace for the Morrison Hotel. Architect Luke Hickson was tasked with the technical intricacies required to complete Rocha’s house design. The long-standing relationship with Hickson remains, as he is currently working with two of Rocha’s children in London; design a house for Simone and a restaurant – Cafe Cecilia, named after Rocha’s mother – for her son Max.
The result is incredible and after 18 years the design is still timeless. âAll my job is to please the eyes. The Georgians didn’t have a lot of light, but this is the most important aspect of the design, so we opened it up so that the light spreads on both sides, âhe says.
With the removal of the interior walls, all of the garden and lobby level spaces now meet, with streaks of light entering through huge glass panels at the rear. But this is not your ordinary glass box added to a Victorian home. Here, a ceiling rises from the three-story dining table to a skylight – and you can imagine the view on a clear, starry night.
In the period of the main reception rooms and contemporary details really complement each other, where the shadow slit ceilings are adjacent to the old intricate cornices. It has a bit of a gallery feel, as the storage is tucked away, and is further enhanced by notable artwork that takes center stage against neutral backgrounds.
The only interior doors are those to the bathrooms and bedrooms, but the strategic placement of the walls gives it a feeling of openness, while retaining pockets of privacy.
Attention to detail
The master bedroom is one of the property’s standout features, where clean lines contrast with the almost feminine curves of the Victorian windows. This is where the attention to detail really becomes apparent; the blinds are hidden inside a frame flush with the old shutters; the changing rooms – but not as big as you might expect from a man who dressed Oasis, Robbie Williams and Brian Kennedy – sit flush with the wall, making the place feel peaceful and charming.
Adjacent is the resistance piece. From the back of the house, you might question the function of a large concrete wall halfway up the three-story 352-square-meter (3,789-square-foot) house. It’s Rocha’s own hanging garden that opens through accordion doors from her bathroom. A bespoke limestone bath that he designed himself – as he did for all the units in the house – takes center stage: âI grew up in a housing estate in Hong Kong, where there were 10 of us. in my family. There was no bath, just a hole in the floor and a faucet on the wall, so now I take a bath every day.
While the entire home has a neutral palette of white against wide planks of Canadian walnut and ivory limestone, a downstairs toilet is sure to arouse curiosity. Its black glass walls and hand-cut glass basin are the result of Rocha’s foray into black glass work for one of his collaborations. It’s a bit crazy compared to the rest of the house, but it will definitely be a talking point at dinner parties.
The property has four bedrooms. Max’s duplex room is soundproof as it was shared with a battery, while Simone’s room is on the ground floor with its own entrance. The photographs really don’t capture the interiors of this most remarkable property, which has now been launched through Hunters Estate Agents for $ 3.95 million.