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March 11, 2019

Inside the world of interior design: a chat with Olivia Aspinall

 Jaffer
Alyssa Jaffer

In the age of Instagram, it takes a truly remarkable image to stand out on your endless feed. Designer Olivia Aspinall’s terrazzo tile pieces are enough to stop you from scrolling and admire her handcraft. With their bright, attention-grabbing colours and smooth, purpose-built surfaces, her bespoke design pieces are an Instagrammer’s fantasy. Tonight, she’s teaching us to cast terrazzo tile coasters, to glam up our living spaces and level up our wine nights. Before we get our hands dirty, our new head of interior design Thomas Downes got to know Olivia, and take a peek inside her colourful world of interior design.

Thomas: I would like to understand a little more about about your working environment, tools, uniform and daily routine. Paint the picture for us.

Olivia: We work in a studio with 3-5 of us on a normal day. Jobs vary quite greatly between designing, sampling for new projects, casting and sanding. There’s lots of colour everywhere; we have a big colour wall where we keep samples of all our colours that we use as reference points or as tools for designing. One of the rooms we use mainly for mixing materials and casting, we have a separate room for sanding and another space for finishing and packaging work. Much more time is spent preparing for a casting day than actually pouring a cast. We spend time preparing aggregate, making moulds, working out reinforcements and checking measurements. We also spend lots of time sanding work; this is to reveal all the pattern we have cast into the surface, and to create a really nice refined finish to our surfaces.

olivia aspinall studio
Inside Olivia Aspinall’s studio

What narratives exist around the origin of your mixes? 

Everything starts with colour. When designing a collection, I’ll find inspiration from all over, and really focus in on a colour palette. I’ll then put these up in the studio and work on them, making changes and subtle tweaks, while constantly reviewing the palette and making sure I still love the combination. Once I have a colour palette I’m happy with, it is then about about working on colour ratios, sizes of aggregate and density.

Something unusual is always good; something that pushes us to develop as a studio and learn new methods or techniques for making.

– Olivia Aspinall

Do you consider yourself an artist or artisan? 

I would consider myself a designer or an artisan. Everything we produce in the studio is handmade from start to finish, and is often a one-of-a-kind piece or design. We are constantly evolving and perfecting techniques in the studio. Our aim is to become masters of these techniques.

Today’s interior spaces are being pushed to challenge and blur the lines from their traditional title or functions. How do you feel your product can enhance this development further?

Because the works we create are usually loaded with colour and pattern, they often become the focal piece of a room. This can be a useful way to create a constant or a centrepiece in a space that is transitional. Additionally, some of the materials we use are suitable for both outdoor and indoor use – a great way to create furniture that sits in these overlapping spaces.

Who’s on your bucket list of designers, makers, brands you wish to collaborate with?

I wouldn’t say that I have a bucket list of designers or brands I’d love to work with, I generally get more excited about the types of projects that are brought to us. Something unusual is always good; something that pushes us to develop as a studio and learn new methods or techniques for making.

Olivia Aspinall will host her workshop, ‘Terrazzo tile coaster casting’ tonight, Monday 11th March at The Collective Old Oak. Capacity is limited, members can head to the app to sign up.

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