Tara Hammond From Slated Talks To Design Ireland

Recently we spoke with Tara Hammond from Slated about creating a luxury artisan homeware brand with her husband Ed. In this post we find out how it all came together and how it works today

Photo of Tara Hammond From Slated Talks To Design Ireland

Describe your normal day?

Running your own business, I would hasten to say that there is a normal day, particularly when all our pieces are produced in house in our Dublin Studio. This definitely keeps things interesting as no two days are the same. I usually start the day by dropping our two children to school on the way to the studio, before settling down with a strong coffee to power through emails and dispatching the orders that have come in overnight. Once I’ve caught up on that it leaves me the time to work on the project of the day. As well as stocking some of the finest shops in the world, we also work on a lot of bespoke projects with internationally renowned brands. So, if we have a project like that ongoing my day may be spent meeting with clients and then developing a piece with my husband Ed. Ed comes from a long line of master slate craftsmen so it is really important to us that each piece is cut by hand in our studio the way it would have been 150 years ago. In fact, the slate knife Ed uses is 150 years old and still in action to this day. We love creating bespoke slate pieces and there is nothing more than the look on a client’s face when they see the finished piece. It’s incredibly rewarding to work on a project from the initial stages where a piece starts as a scribble on a page to seeing a completed piece in use.

How did you learn your skills? / What type of training did you have?

I actually don’t come from a creative background but seeing the passion Ed had for his family tradition of the craft of slate cutting I couldn’t help but fall in love with it too. For years I worked as a Membership Secretary for a Trade Association which meant I dealt with everything from industrial relations, newspaper circulation, lobbying the government right through to the implementation of the Euro changeover for retailers. It really feels like a world away from what I do now. Everything I do I’ve learnt from Ed or teaching myself. Ed has taught me how to hand cut slate but I’ll never be as good as him, it’s in his blood. Where I do come into my own though it hand gilding the slate, it’s something I’ve really taken to and find strangely relaxing. From a product design point Ed and I work on that together, I think not coming from a design background means I don’t follow any rules and have a design freedom I may not otherwise have. The same applies with everything being made in house here in Dublin, if it can be thought up, we can make it!

How would you describe your style and products?

Slated is very much a reflection of my personal style, I love high quality luxury items that are as functional as they are beautiful and this is something I strive towards with our pieces. We’re the only company in Ireland and because of that every single piece is completely unique, there are no two pieces the same due to them all being hand cut and that really is something special. I strive to make pieces that I would want to buy and think my customers would love. Slated craft pieces add a truly opulent feel to any home and are sure to stand the test of time. Our pieces are designed to add a touch of luxury to any home no matter the style, they are as at home in a modern minimal home as they are in a more traditional country home. When designing we don’t follow trends, to us great design and amazing quality products will stand the test of time and for us that is what we love to see, our pieces being passed down from generation to generation of families just how the craft of slate cutting has been passed down through Ed’s family.

Where do you get your inspiration?

All the inspiration for Slated is truly steeped in family tradition. The passion that my wonderful husband has for slate cutting is incredibly infectious and I couldn’t help but catch the bug. It can’t be said enough just how important making everything in Ireland is to us when so much production has been moved abroad. Ed’s family passed their talent and skill from generation and I absolutely love that such an old-fashioned technique is creating luxurious pieces crafted from tradition are become a part of people’s homes and modern lifestyles. Ireland has such a rich cultural heritage and reputation for high quality products worldwide and this is something we take great pride in upholding. Our products are made to a world class standard and we constantly work towards making the pieces and the brand the best they can be. There is an authenticity to our products that can be hard to find in this modern age and we’re hoping to continue Ed’s family craft for generations to come.

Were there any positive or crucial turning points in your career?

There have been so many amazing moments since founding Slated with Ed, that I find it hard to pick just one. I suppose to answer the question one of the most pivotal and crucial moments without me realising it would have to have been when I took my career break from my job as a membership secretary for a Trade Association. Ed’s family have worked with slate for as long as they can trace back roofing some of Ireland’s most iconic buildings. I thought it was a shame that this beautiful material was only being used for roofing when it would look so beautiful in the home so I had Ed make me a table runner for a dinner party we were hosting. Little did I know where this would lead, everyone who saw the runner loved it and the fact that Ed had hand cut it. Soon we were making runner for friends, others were asking for placemats, restaurants were looking for serving dishes and before we knew it Slated was born. I think people see the love and care that goes into handstakingly cutting each piece and it’s something that resonates with them.

What is your most popular product?

Our most popular products at the moment are from our Slate and Copper Collection. We absolutely adore the combination of slate and copper together and people just can’t seem to get enough of it. No matter how many pieces Ed cuts we continually sell out of the collection, let's just say those pieces have been responsible for a lot of early mornings and late nights. The Slate and Copper Trio Candle Holder is definitely up there as a top seller (find out where to buy). There’s just something magical about the combination of cool slate, the warm metallic glow of copper and candlelight that adds a touch of opulence to any room. We’ve recently released our collection of hand cut and hand gilded coasters and placemats that have received an amazing response too. I’ve a funny feeling that the early mornings and late nights won’t be coming to an end anytime soon!

Photo of Tara Hammond From Slated Talks To Design Ireland
"There’s just something magical about the combination of cool slate, the warm metallic glow of copper and candlelight that adds a touch of opulence to any room"

What is your favourite piece of work at the minute and why?

That’s like trying to pick a favourite child, I love them all equally. On an emotional level, it would have to be our Slate table runner, that’s the piece that started it all. It’s a crazy thought but without it who knows where we would be today, Slated may never have been born! Most recently a project I loved working on was creating flight boards for Power’s Whiskey, I absolutely loved the finished piece and they did too. We pride ourselves on attention to detail and as well as the beautiful slate boards being engraved with the brand’s logo and the markers for placement of drinks we also created tiny wooden laser cut tags that were exact replicas of the Power’s Whiskey labels, one for each whiskey that was available. It truly is amazing seeing something like that come together. 

Why do you love doing what you do?

It’s as simple as this, I truly believe in the product and craftsmanship of our pieces. I’m incredibly lucky that I get to work alongside my husband everyday so that makes the long hours a little bit easier, when you work with someone who’s on the exactly the same page as you it takes away a lot of challenges. The saying is true that if you love what you do you’ll never work a day again and I really do love what we do. We’re the only people who hand cut slate in the country, how privileged am I that I’m able to say that? It’s an amazing thing that pushes me on to bring our pieces around the world.

If budget and time were no obstacle, what would you most like to create?

So far, we’re in a pretty fortunate position that there hasn’t been anything that I would like to create that I haven’t been able to. This is because of a number of factors, the main two being that all our pieces are developed and hand cut in our studio and the biggest factor is the talent of Ed at cutting slate. He’s one of the most talented people I’ve met and is a pleasure to work with every day. Hand making our pieces in our studio means we are in total control over exactly how we want to make a piece and have the luxury to try things out in different ways until we get them perfect, something that many others are not in the position to do.

If you weren’t doing what you do, what would you work at?

If I wasn’t a co-founder and designer of Slated I’d imagine that I would have resumed my career as membership secretary for a trade association. That is so far removed from what I do now that it seems like a different world but a part of my heart will always love that industry too. I’m a person who puts one hundred percent into everything I do and so far, I’ve been extremely blessed to have always loved what I do, whether that was in industrial relations or design and craft. Slate captured my heart completely and I’m just delighted that through my work with Slated it’s capturing other people's hearts and they now see the beauty in it too!

If you enjoyed this interview with Tara then you may also be interested in our first interview with Karolina from KaroArt Ceramics. Read the post here

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