9 Questions with Olivia

1.)You have a linguistics background which sits alongside your passion for creativity- What did you study?

I studied English, Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Nottingham. When I began University, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do exactly, and although naturally creative, felt that a degree in linguistics was broad and would provide plenty of opportunities post-graduation. Apart from my year abroad, when I studied at the University of Salamanca followed by five months of travelling round South America, I didn’t find my course particularly exciting nor inspiring and didn’t feel a career in translation or publishing was for me. Having studied sculpture and fine art previously I came to realise that the creative industry was where my passion lay, and in particular, the world of interiors. After graduating from university, I enrolled at The Inchbald School of Design in Belgravia where I studied Interior Architecture.

2.)What is it about interior design which you love so much?

There are so many elements of interior design which I love, but above all, it has to be the transformative process. I have always been fascinated with how something will start as one thing but can be transformed into something totally different, almost unrecognisable. For some clients it’s like magic and their reaction to this is both motivating and inspiring.

3.)You have worked at some impressionable studios before embarking on your own, how did these experiences shape you as a designer?

I learnt everything I know from the studios I both worked for, and others which I interned for, at the start of my career. I have met some incredible people along the way who have taught me so much, not only about the craft but also about client relationships, the running of a studio and the importance of team work. I have also worked with lovely clients in amazing locations on fabulous projects. Each project has its own DNA and comes with its own challenges and so I’m learning more and more every day; in other words, there’s never a dull moment!

4.)How would you describe the aesthetics of Olivia Alexandra Interior Design?

I don’t like to say that we have a certain aesthetic per say but that we are malleable in terms of the clients needs and personal tastes. I really admire the sculptural movement as the essence of this look with it’s raw, hammered metals and bold shapes is both visually impactful and creates a statement almost instantly. As much as I love playing with bright pops of colour and loud fabrics, I also enjoy a calm, neutral palette. When it comes to art, I am a big fan of abstract pieces and good quality bespoke framing. For me, if there is stunning considered joinery and lighting as a base, then the rest will follow.

5.)How do you foster trust within your client relationship?

Your home is one of the most personal and private aspects of your world. The interior designer begins as a stranger and like any relationship it can only progress with the omnipresence of trust. For me listening is key to understanding the synergy between the client and the property and to create a plan to build on that. Asking questions is also important and they provide a dialogue between myself and the client about their likes and dislikes.

6.)Designing for a project includes a multitude of segments which make up the entire process, which part of the process do you enjoy the most?

I love the whole process from concept to completion however, I do particularly enjoy putting together a presentation as I feel its when I am at my most creative. Ideas are jumping around and it’s so exciting when you put together a scheme that looks great. Its all about experimentation and going with your gut feeling; I know instantly if something will work or not.

7.)Where do you look for, and find, inspiration?

Anywhere from Hotels to fashion and literature. Art also inspires me greatly, and I find starting with an abstract piece can encourage your creative direction.

8.)Travel is a big part of your life, what is your favourite city and how does it inspire your work?

Travelling and visiting new countries is a big part of my life and something which provides me with so much happiness. I have been fortunate enough to visit some incredible places but one which impacted me the most was Udaipur, India. The juxtaposition between the hustle and bustle of the serpentine streets with the roman- tic serenity of Lake Pichola is breath-taking. The Lake Palace, for example, which rises from the lake, replete with hand-carved columns and elegant arches all of which are wrapped gently by amber bougainvillea, show- cases the benefits of working alongside your surrounding landscape and not against it; A ground rule which I live by.

9.)What makes a house a home?

For me, personally, it’s all about the senses. A home should look beautiful, smell lovely and feel comfortable. All of this should be cocooned by a sense of familiarity through the sounds of family, people or music you love.

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