Marketer-turned-pilot-turned-artist, Ciara O’Toole tells Niamh Mac Sweeney why art and adventure are the driving forces behind her new business Amelia.
A new innovative Irish interiors brands, Amelia, launched in October with an exhibition at the offices of the Irish Aviation Authority at the old Times Building on Dublin’s D’Olier Street.
Amelia is the creation of entrepreneur Ciara O’Toole, designed to embody her love of aviation and to encapsulate the art of adventure.
After her autobiography Going Solo on Lake Como, detailing the Wicklow-native’s move to Lake Como in Italy, O’Toole trained as a seaplane pilot. This ignited her passion for aviation, and Amelia was born.
A five-piece capsule collection of contemporary furniture, Amelia is created using parts from decommissioned aircraft, all of which have been hand-sourced by O’Toole.
The collection offers potential customers a statement piece of aviation history for their home or business space.
I always wanted my own brand and Amelia just seemed to tick all the boxes
O’Toole is no stranger to starting and grow her own business. Following a successful career in marketing, working for high profile global brands such as L’Oréal, Johnson & Johnson, Red Bull and Diageo, she set up her own marketing company, The Cat’s Pyjamas which she ran for 10 years.
“I loved working for global brands because its exciting; there is a huge energy and a huge machine behind them,” she says.
But given her entrepreneurial spirit, O’Toole was destined to run her own company at some stage. “I’ve always wanted to work for myself. I have a lot of energy and an independent streak and that has always driven me to challenge myself. I need to be stretched to feel like I’m living.”
ART AND AVIATION
In February 2015 Ciara founded ‘Amelia’, an aviation inspired business producing art and furniture beautifully engineered from reclaimed aircraft.
The first Amelia 737 collection was launched in October and according to O’Toole the motivation for this new venture came from her love of aviation.
“I love planes and ultimately it was a case of joining of the dots,” she recalls. “I’d been in Italy, learnt to fly, written my book and I was looking for something new to start. I had always wanted my own brand and Amelia just seemed to tick all the boxes. Its aviation and its marketing, so I saw it as a real opportunity to establish a premium brand – not just to make amazing pieces but to actually establish a designer brand in this space, and all that goes into that.”
O’Toole finds inspiration in unique places and sourcing materials is as much part of the creative process as the designs themselves. “I have tonnes of ideas and I have visions for designs but I had to start with what I had to work with – but even then there are so many possibilities.
O’Toole hopes that as the brand and designs become more established she will be in a position to seek out individual pieces for her design ideas.
“With this there are no limits, no benchmarks, no direct competitors – there is a complete freedom to it. The sky is the limit and I don’t see myself ever running out of ideas with this,” she enthuses.
“Even if you look at one plane, there are thousands of pieces that you can use and then if you look at all the different types of aircraft, it widens again and if you look at the possibilities design wise, then is just endless.”
The brand is inspired by Amelia Earhart, the first female pilot to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. The ultimate independent pioneer, O’Toole says she can relate to Earhart on many levels as she too is an adventurous free spirit.
“The pieces are all taken from aircrafts that have flown and that have a history and a story to them, and that to me conveys both art and adventure.”
For O’Toole, the ultimate goal for Amelia is: “To position Amelia as the most premium aviation inspired design brand.” And given her charisma, vision and ambition, the sky really is the limit for bubbly entrepreneur.
The Amelia: This is a twelve-seater conference or dining table which is crafted using the engine casing of a Boeing 737 as its base, with a titanium fuel access door set flush into the centre of the oval shaped glass. 10 Individually crafted feet make up the base, with 12 precision finished aluminium stilts elevating the space between the casing and the two-piece toughened glass.
Landing Gear: This elegant piece is created using the nose landing gear door of a Boeing 737 as its primary feature. The door, which maintains aerodynamic profile during flight, is one of two to extend downwards under the nose of the aircraft before landing. The piece is finished off with a base of polished black matrix natural stone of Brazilian origin, and is topped with toughened glass which hovers over the door on aluminium cantilevered stilts.
Medusa: This unique piece exudes personality and style. Flexible stainless steel solar pipes and tensioned guidewire add structure to this meeting table, which consists of a hydraulic selector valve set on the base, and a titanium underwing fuel access door set flush in the oval glass of the table. The piece is finished off with a fabulous bevelled solid white Italian Carrara Marble hand-polished base.
The Rocket by Amelia: Crafted from the leading edge of the wing of a Boeing 737, this cabinet is truly an outstanding piece of furniture. The cabinet is finished and set in a base of hand-polished Connemara marble. The Rocket is created from the wing of a plane whose last flight flew into the West of Ireland.
The Slipstream: This stylish, white-on-white cantilever piece has been crafted using the flap track fairing from the wing of a Boeing 737. The flap fairing, which peeps out from underneath the wing and covers the mechanics of the flap tracks, is restored to its original condition and set in a rectangular-shaped white Italian Carrara Marble. The design uses two fin-style glass carriers in stainless steel to keep the toughened glass flat. This elegant, aerodynamic piece adds an unmistakable touch of class.
The Amelia collection is now available to purchase, with commission-based pieces also available on request through www.amelia.ie.