about stephen obriain

stephen obriainSensuous hand planed curves, simplified lines and a meticulously detailed joints are some of the features that distinguish Stephen O'Briain's furniture.

Trained as a fine art painter, Stephen first became interested in the possibilities of furniture design after seeing the work of Russian Master craftsman, James Krenov. What started as a hobby soon became a full time profession. The transition from paint to wood made all the easier by a tradition of woodworking in the family that stretches back three generations. Stephen’s work may have evolved stylistically from those early years but Krenoves influence lives on in his love of working with hand-tools and his search for simple but elegant design solutions.

Working almost exclusively in solid timber, both native and imported, Stephen’s work over the last few years has taken on an increasingly organic quality. In the design of a piece of furniture, his instinct is to find a balance between the function of that piece and its sculptural form. Underlying the strikingly beautiful simplicity of all Stephen's work is a mastery of the complexities of good design and a genuine love of his materials.

Over the years Stephen has produced a large portfolio of work and exhibited extensively, with clients in Ireland, Britain and the United States. 

As well as these private commissions, Stephen has also worked on larger corporate and public commissions including furniture for Government Buildings (Dublin) and the Irish Embassy, Tel Aviv.

Major Public and Corporate Commissions.

2010 Set of stacking chairs for new library Borris

2008 “Spine Table” Reception Desk and a selection of smaller pieces for Riverdeep Ltd.

1996-2007 Conference tables and Cabinets for Bank of Ireland

2006 Conference Tables and Furniture for McCann Fitzgerald Solicitors.

2002 Reception Desks and furniture for new Library D.I.T

2000 Council Chamber Desks and Reception Desks for Sligo County Council.

1998 Furniture for Government Building Merrion Square.

1997 Furniture for Irish Embassy Tel Aviv for O.P.W


2010 and 2012 RDS Craft Competition Exhibition

2010-2011 “Portfolio” at the Craft Council Gallery Kilkenny

2009 “Object” at the Craft Council Gallery Kilkenny

2008 “SOFA” Chicago

2008 “Eigse Craft” Carlow

2005 “ Create” at Photo House Cork

2001 -2011 Woods @ Work Annual Show

1994-2000 Showed work at Design Yard Dublin


2010 RDS National Craft Competition. 1st Prize Furniture

2010 RDS National Craft Competition. Award of Excellence (Reserve) Prize

2010 RDS National Craft Competition. Craft Council of Ireland Purchase Award

1998 RDS National Craft Competition. Winner of Muriel Gahan Development Grant

Latest blog post

secret dovetail part 1
21 November 2012

  I first started working with Secret Dovetails in 2005. Since then I  have used them extensively in a variety of different projects. Recently while making one of my Walnut Console Tables I thought it might be interesting to document the process involved in making these joints.

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