Escape to this off-grid artist studio on the Irish island of Inis Oírr

For the aptly named Drop Everything cultural biennial, a perfect pod has popped up on the rocky headland of Inis Oírr, the smallest of the Aran Islands, located off the west coast of Galway

Drop Studio artist retreat in Galway, Ireland
(Image credit: Mark Mcguinness)

Artists and designers have the opportunity to escape on week-long summer residencies in a new artist pod, located in a position that promises to inspire creativity. Created by designer Jordan Ralph and his team, Studio Drop was originally commissioned by the arts organisation Drop Everything, for Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture (which has been extended to 2021 because of the pandemic).

A boat builder's vision

Ralph – an architectural, interior and product designer, whose practice focuses on sustainable process – spent time with local Inis Oírr boat builders for inspiration. Galvanised by witnessing the restoration of the Loveen Galway Hooker fishing boat, Ralph modified his Studio Drop design based on the traditional techniques seen in Hooker builds, which are designed to deal with the harsh North Atlantic weather encountered on the local coast. Ralph channelled this rugged, element-ready typology into Studio Drop, resulting in an experimental project with a one-of-a-kind construction.

The framework of Drop Studio when it was under construction

The framework of Studio Drop when it was under construction, with views across the headlands of Inis Oírr

(Image credit: Mark Mcguinness)

A wooden frame supports a tapered wooden structure, resembling local Martello towers: small fortresses that are dotted along the coastline. Studio Drop also resembles a contemporary take on a clochán – a low, stone, beehive-shaped dwelling commonly associated with the south-western Irish seaboard.

Cylindrical in structure, the tiny studio has a window framing the vast sea beyond. Surrounded by outdoor cooking and seating areas, the pod invites the outside in, while providing a private and meditative space to design, think, read, write, and develop ideas.

Inside, the nautical inspiration continues. A hammock-style daybed is made from a trawler net washed ashore during a winter storm, salvaged by local fisherman. A wrap-around bench mirrors the circularity of a crow's nest.

Drop Everything: a freeing antidote to lockdown

Opening on the summer solstice, 21 June, Studio Drop arrives, after a year of varying interiority, with the promise of bracing sea air and far-off horizons. The summer of creative residencies will run until August 2021.

Intended for a life beyond Galway, Studio Drop has been designed to be transferrable to other locations. Watch this space.

Beautiful view of Inis Oirr

(Image credit: Mark Mcguinness)

Rocky headland of Inis Oírr

(Image credit: Mark Mcguinness)


(Image credit: Mark Mcguinness)

Inner view

(Image credit: Mark Mcguinness)

Artist studio

(Image credit: Mark Mcguinness)

Wooden door

(Image credit: Mark Mcguinness)

Escape to this off-grid artist studio on the Irish island of Inis Oír

(Image credit: Mark Mcguinness)


Elly Parsons is the Digital Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees and its social platforms. She has been with the brand since 2015 in various roles, spending time as digital writer – specialising in art, technology and contemporary culture – and as deputy digital editor. She was shortlisted for a PPA Award in 2017, has written extensively for many publications, and has contributed to three books. She is a guest lecturer in digital journalism at Goldsmiths University, London, where she also holds a masters degree in creative writing. Now, her main areas of expertise include content strategy, audience engagement, and social media.

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