What, you may ask, is a gaelic word doing here?  The translation, as graciously provided by Dierdre O’Toole, an Irish book editor, is “residence.”  We were talking about the meaning of reside, to dwell, to house.

“Writer in residence – Scríbhneoir cónaithe
teach cónaithe – means a home residence
Bhí cónaí air i  . . . – he was residing in
Hope that is of some help to you, it’s a complicated language!”
The word is sufficiently abstract that it can, if I so choose, come to mean a particular thing related to residence, namely, the attainment of an ideal residence.  And therefore it shall be adopted as my new motto; nay, my new mantra, the incarnation of creative expression.
I hereby announce the birth of a design firm named Cónaithe.  Why?
For one thing, I love Gaelic because it is constantly dying out, but always stays around.  Kind of like good design, eh? Design matters less and less, fewer and fewer people talk the language, and yet it still stays around.  Kind of like Irish.
For another thing, my grandfather from County Cork and all of his ancestors seem to rear their heads inside and speak to me every once in a while.  Like now.  They’re cautioning me about the corporate bureaucracy, a healthy hatred of the organization man they have.  A bit too imperious, they say.  So a word that brings out my roots seems appropriate just about now.
And then finally it is an antidote to the desultory diminishment being dished out.  As a design firm, my employer could have sold its business to, say, IDEO, or WATG, or Snøhetta (an amalgamation of the words “truth” and “beauty” in Norwegian, by the way, a sort of scandanavian “treauty” or “beauth”).
But no, instead they have chosen a general consultancy that does roads and bridges and environmental cleanup and reports and studies and, oh yes, buildings.  So we’re now all swimming in a big bowl of Canadian oatmeal.  Cónaithe stands for design by an Irishman, it stands for a highly focused design, it stands for an authentic and nuanced response to a problem, and yes, it stands for artist-in-residence, writer-in-residence, and for residence.
And finally, as Owner, Principal, and Sole Proprietor of Cónaithe, I can claim it as the antidote to the stagnation of career at the large corporate practice.  All my life, I’ve experienced promotion.  This is the first place where demotions seem to be occurring.  By the time I retire, I fully expect to be an intern again.
Therefore, if you do choose to send me an inquiry about design, my practice, named Cónaithe, will be fully equipped to handle your needs.  For I have a number of co-workers eager to be part of something they can be proud of once again, something they can associate with pride, and something poetic that makes a difference.
I pledge that Cónaithe will make a difference to you, and that you will have no other experience like it when you come to us for any design assignment, no matter the size or degree of difficulty.

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