Superfolk is a design studio led by a very talented husband and wife duo. Gearoid Muldowney, a craft designer, and Jo Anne Butler, an architect and artist are on a mission to tell the story about the beauty and diversity in nature that surrounds them on the West Coast of Ireland. Through their objects and art, they have found a way to truly bring the beauty of the outdoors into our homes in a very practical way.  Gearoid and Jo Anne have a passion for the natural world and their goal is to continue to slowly grow Superfolk to be a place of continued learning and inspiration for those who have a curiosity for the wonders of nature around them.

 Superfolk Team

Why do you do what you do?

That's a hard question to answer - but I think that we do what feels natural and enjoyable and in some ways obvious for us to do.

We have both always loved creating something from nothing - turning, changing, and moulding a raw material into something new, in a way that tells a story and resonates with people. We love “product design”.

 It is a real privilege to make objects that sit in people’s homes, that they use in their daily lives and cherish.

Another factor in how we are slowly building Superfolk is that we wanted to build a business that would be compatible with living rurally in the west of Ireland, creating employment and sharing the magic of this place with others.

For a long long time cities were seen as places of innovation and creativity while rural places were seen as parochial and backward-looking. We believe that innovative and creative voices can thrive within rural communities. The future is rural!

County Mayo Ireland


Can you share a little about your background? Where does your creativity come from?

 I believe we are all inherently creative. Creativity lies inside all of us. But I would say that we were both lucky to have grown up with parents who encouraged us and allowed us to make our own career choices, to follow a path that we enjoy.

 Gearoid and I both grew up in the west of Ireland and met while studying at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin. Gearoid also spent some time studying in Finland. While I went on to study architecture in Dublin and Denmark.

 Superfolk Studio

Superfolk Studio Tools

"We try to communicate a sense of connection and belonging with nature. We want to advocate for nature through the work that we do"



Can you describe the moment or time when you knew that creating objects was what you wanted to do? How did your passion come to be?

 I don’t think there was any one moment in time of eureka! I think that making, drawing, transforming materials, or creating something from nothing has just always been something that we have each individually enjoyed since childhood. While Gearoid has known for a long time what he wanted to do with Superfolk I worked for years in developing art and design projects with communities. I thought for a time that giving up that work to join Superfolk would mean giving up the chance to advocate for sustainability. But I see now that was wrong. We are building Superfolk as a design studio and a brand. But we are also building a platform for sharing our learning and love for our environment and ecosystems through our website, newsletter, social media and speaking opportunities. This work is now gathering its own community.  

Superfolk Screen printing

 Superfolk Spring Beech Leaf

What’s your favorite artwork?

Patrick Scott was an Irish artist who died in 2014. Since I was a teenager I have been drawn to his work. More than any single artwork I admire his approach to life and work - I always felt there was a kindness and sense of humour in all he did. He started out in architecture and worked with some of Ireland's most distinguished architecture practices. I really admire the freedom and sense of place in his work - he worked across art, illustration, architecture, product and pattern design. One of his textile patterns “Pub Wall” was recently reproduced on linen by the Irish textile studio Stable and they have also adapted the design into a really beautiful blanket with Molloy and Son weavers.


What kind of routines or rituals do you have?

Since having our daughter (who is now 4) we have become much more practiced in keeping a clear boundary between work and family life. Our time, workspace and processes are much more structured and efficient. We have a weekly Monday meeting to review the production work to be done in the week. And usually on Wednesday, we have a design meeting to review new products in development. And honestly, looking back, I don't know how we managed before.

 Outside of studio hours we try to spend as much time as we can outdoors and exploring our wild landscapes with our daughter and dog. Spending time at the beach or in the forest. 4year olds aren’t so keen on climbing mountains it turns out. During lockdown I’ve found great solace in watering our house plants - does that count as a ritual?!

 Superfolk Studio Corner

Seaweed Forging

Seaweed forging with kids

What’s your favorite thing that you created?

I love all our pieces equally of course. But I think that the Ash trivet is one of my favourites. It was one of our earliest pieces and something that we lived with and used in our home for many months before we considered adding it to our product offering. I love that it is both simple and complex and how light falls across the form. It feels organic and natural while still abstract in form.


Superfolk Ash Trivet

Ash Trivet

What do you try to communicate through your art/ craft?

We try to communicate a sense of connection and belonging with nature. We want to advocate for nature through the work that we do - to encourage people to go outdoors, to appreciate, and share the beauty and gifts of nature. We believe that first, we will come to know, then we will learn to love and then we will be compelled to protect.

 In tandem, we also want to communicate a sense of curiosity, discovery and creativity. We want to inspire others to make and create. I hope our work communicates a fluency and enjoyment in working with materials and simply making things.


What role, in general, do you think artists play in society? What are your thoughts on being an artist in today's world?

We would more likely describe ourselves as designers if we had to pick one title. But I would say that culture, across all disciplines and expressions, has always had and will always have a critical role in society. Culture is not a luxury and it needs to be shared. Culture brings people together, speaks truth to power, helps us imagine an alternative future, and helps bring meaning to everyday life.

 Ireland has always had a rich culture of storytelling and literature. In times when people had nothing, stories could be shared and never taken away.  We have also been working recently with the Irish Museum of Country Life and their folklife collection of vernacular objects. The care, love, and detail in these household pieces, many made by people who had so little is really grounding.

 wandering brass candleholder

Superfolk Wandering Brass Candle holder

Is there a creative medium you would like to pursue but have not yet tried?

Loads. I think we would both love to design a collection in glass, as well as in textiles timber, and cork. We’d also love to write and illustrate a book at some stage.


Do you have any advice on how to be more creative? OR overcoming creative blocks?

Our old art teachers, Robin Jones, and Sarah Farrell were really great teachers. They would often make us take a break and step back to turn the page upside down to assess the composition. And I still do this or variations of it. The core idea is to find a way to refresh your eyes, cleanse your palette, and get some perspective on what you are working on. Sometimes I take a break, get fresh air, and take a walk in nature. Other times I might put the piece away completely for a few days in a drawer and work on something else and then come back to it. There is no point in hammering away at something and smothering it. Leave it, and then come back to it. Give the work, and yourself, some time to breathe.

 Superfolk Seaweed trio

What’s the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

“Life is a marathon”. I'm a swimmer, not a runner but this really resonates with me. It was a piece of advice that was given to me from the Irish architect Patrick Shaffrey, via his daughter Grainne.  Patrick is now in his nineties and continues to advocate for sustainable and sensitive planning and design, particularly in rural areas.

 I've overworked myself to the point of burnout in the past, and I have learned that no good work comes from this way of living. Our approach with Superfolk has always been to grow slowly - we talk about each project like planting a seed that in time might grow into a strong tree. When we started this was very much against the grain of the “move fast and break things” thinking of the startup world. But I think right now in particular lots of people are feeling the benefits of a slower, more sustainable way of living.

Fishing in Ireland, County Mayo

 Ireland Mountain Top

{photos - Superfolk}  

You can shop our selection of Superfolk Trivets HERE

Make sure to also follow their journey on Instagram as they add stories about the area they live and the processes of how they create their beautiful pieces. 


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