O&A LONDON FEATURED IN INTERIOR DESIGN YEARBOOK 2019
Oleg Klodt and Agapova Agapova talk about the furniture side of the industry from a studio business perspective in the new Interior Design Yearbook 2019 issue.
What does the furniture design landscape in the UK look like at the moment?
The British furniture landscape is diverse, and it is experiencing a renaissance. Every year we can see new names and emerging brands that are hard to categorise under one particular style. There is no end to these designers’ creativity and London can proudly be named as a global creative hub!
Broadly, we can divide modern furniture design in the UK into two big groups. The first one is represented by the designers who are committed to classical English traditions. These brands keep conservative approaches and design authentic furniture by trying to rethink traditions and give new contemporary interpretations. In a nutshell, we can identify them as the representatives of ‘refined English delicacy’. In our view, Justin van Breda, Stuart Scott and Soane Britain belong to this category. The other group of designers adheres to the principle of innovation. They create relatively iconic shapes by mixing different materials and adopting revolutionary technologies. These designers are more European oriented. Thus, they follow traditions of exceptional quality and classic design but add an eccentric flare. The ‘tailored’ items created by David Linley and Tom Faulkner are a great example of this.
How have changes in client expectations changed the way you prepare furniture packages as part of your interior design service?
Any creative activity is the cumulative result of all the experience you’ve built up throughout your life — or at least, everything which has been involved in your profession. Our experience in interior design stretches back more than fifteen years, evolving more and more in the luxury segment of the market. Most of our clients hear about us through the grapevine and many of them know each other. On the one hand, this means our clients trust us and respect our experience, but on the other, no one wants the same furnishings as their friends. That requires us to have a thoughtful approach to the whole creative process, including the sourcing and designing of furniture.
The manifesto of our company is to create interiors that will always remain modern and relevant. Any interior needs a kind of suppleness, a soft feeling that arises from a mixture of different items which all have different stylistic approaches. There shouldn’t be a feeling of completion — instead, a sense that you could always add something else later. The interior works as a foundation: the clients can change some elements in the future, but the whole system will work perfectly. Thus, our primary task is to find these pieces or design them and show to the client how the interior will work from a
How do you continue to innovate in the furniture sector?
After years of designing private and commercial architectural projects, we realised which items are hard to find in the market. As a result, the next evident step was to create a whole new brand: O&A London. We started by designing pieces that we could not find for our projects. For example, the back of the Pictor II armchair is particularly unique. From our experience, we perceived that spacious living rooms require a group of two armchairs that viewers can observe from different angles. In the same vein, difficulties sourcing lighting for
These innovations fill gaps in the market. We do not follow trends by creating furniture just for decoration’s sake. We find solutions. New materials and technologies are only the instruments.
Where do the majority of your furniture briefs sit, in sourcing pieces or bespoke commissions?
Tailored furniture items have always been featured in our projects.
We design all
People place more trust in furniture produced by architects, which is why when we are sourcing pieces, we devote our attention to collections designed by people who have significant expertise in interior design.
What are the most popular requests from clients when beginning a project that requires bespoke furniture designs?
The most popular request from clients is for decorative lighting products. It is quite understandable since lighting plays a central role in any interior. Chandeliers completely transform entire spaces in a house, becoming its central point. Lighting can influence our mood, so we aim to create a relaxing, intimate and homely atmosphere. It is the unseen soul of the space.
Desks are also an important concern for our clients. We observe a real shortage of these pieces because they are quite complicated
What kind of challenges are you facing in terms of creating new and unique designs?
The most common problem is finding trustworthy manufacturers. The second challenge relates to suppliers. For example, we often combine wood and metal in our pieces, and it is a challenge to link the suppliers and organise production management, especially when bronze is used. The most experienced workshops that work with this metal are in France, and they are overly cautious about new commissions as they try to keep their production methods a secret.
Our journey was long and full of learning curves. But meticulousness and integrity in the quality of the product helped us to find reliable partners.
Have you experienced changes in budgets and the way people are spending and how have you responded to this as a designer?
In our practice, we regularly experience budgetary reductions which sometimes reach 30%. But since we have a good network of suppliers and producers, we are very flexible. In most of the cases, clients want to reduce the costs of ‘soft zones’ and playrooms. But there are always some pieces that can be considered beyond the budget such as decorative lighting and furniture for living rooms.
What do you like to know from a client when embarking on a furniture design journey with them?
Before starting the design process, we ask our clients to fill out a form. Many questions help us to find a visual territory for future items. But there are no guarantees when met with challenging situations. In this business, especially in the
Are there other countries that you look to in terms of furniture design inspiration?
We are in love with American brands. There are two groups. The first one is represented by premium design companies such as Holly Hunt. These companies offer
Regular visits to France give extraordinary opportunity to feed the mind.
Where do you source furniture from for residential projects?
About 50% of furniture sourcing for our projects is carried out in the UK. Around 30% is sourced in America and only 20% in Europe.
When commissioning bespoke pieces, where do you find is the best source of materials for the work?
We have a group of
What do you see as being the biggest furniture design ideas for 2019?
Everything develops cyclically. The pace of life speeds up year after year and the lifetime of each style becomes shorter. Trends are increasingly replacing each other and sometimes mixing. But every time, as they come to the fold again, they are transformed due to new technology.
It is impossible to foresee what will be in fashion tomorrow. But we can guarantee that only
In 20 to 30 years, functionality and