Denise O’Connor
Optimise Design
Founder and Managing Director
What we do
Architecture and interior design
"Working overseas gave me important insights that translated into a competitive advantage."

Newly qualified as an architect, Denise O’Connor moved to London in the late 1990s after graduating from UCD. First she worked at architect firm, Walker and Martin until 2002,before joining leading design practice Target Living as a senior Architect. Here, Denise worked closely with the company founders Tara Bernerd and Thomas Griem. “They have been a huge inspiration. They were really creative and applied a huge focus on marketing. To me, it was a new way of working. We fused together architecture and interiors to gain a commercial edge and offer a complete service.”

From working at Target Living, Denise learnt an important lesson; “I saw the impact that marketing can have in getting work and how effective it was in building brand awareness.Target Living were constantly sending out press releases, were always available to give interviews and very much kept in the public eye. This was a great lesson for me and one that I wanted to bring to my own business.”

Denise returned to Dublin and set up Optimise Design in 2007. Specialising in architecture and interior design, the company’s portfolio covers a wide range of work from residential to commercial projects such as private homes, refurbishments and extensions, residential developments, hotels, retail spaces and offices. “We like to put people before aesthetics, creating bespoke spaces that work. Successful designs should be a pleasure to live in, to work in, and it is this simple vision that makes their service unique.”

Shortly after setting up, Denise was approached by the Irish Independent to write a column in their expanded property section (Property Plus). Writing every week proved to be a great way to build her brand. By the time the recession came along, Denise had successfully created a name for herself. She looked to develop an effective growth strategy for her company. Despite the downturn, residential work was still ongoing. The company were well placed to do this work as they could offer architecture and interiors. “Our biggest challenge was cash flow. Hiring an architect was now considered a luxury. We needed something to differentiate us from the abundance of other architects in the marketplace. So we developed the Optimise Home Service.”

The Optimise Home Service was a once off consultancy service, where Denise and her team provided architectural and interior design advice. A fixed fee was paid upfront by clients. By 2009, 90% of all Optimise Homes were converting to full projects. “We realised that client contact was the key – typically people were intimidated by architects, we set about breaking down the barriers.”

From there, Optimise Design started doing trade shows and invested in professional photography. Like Target Living, Denise would pitch to the media, making it easy for them to cover their story. Denise notes the importance of building connections and networking. Through her contacts, she was recommended as presenter for the successful RTE TV series “Design Doctors”. Denise designed a colour collection for
Dulux ‘Signature collection’ which launched in September 2013.

Denise has recently celebrated ten years in business. Optimise now employs 7 full time staff and has seen turnover steadily increase year on year. Denise considers her experience in London crucial to the success of Optimise Design. “It gave me important insights that translated into a competitive advantage when I set up Optimise Design.”

Contact Us

34 Fitzwilliam Street Upper
Dublin 2
D02 T207

T: + 353 (0)1 661 9020