Guineveres Guests; Chats with Olivia Outred

Named as House & Garden’s ‘Rising Star’ 20/21, Olivia Outred is known for her fresh and playful design style with a career that has progressed from strength to strength. In her early years she worked with iconic designers Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler and Soane Britain, before opening her own studio in 2014.

We are delighted to have Olivia’s selection of five favourite items from the Guinevere collection, and we couldn’t resist the opportunity to pose 10 questions on her design style and experience.

What three words would you use to describe your design style?
Classic mixed with the exotic and unexpected.

Biggest career high so far?
We won the House and Garden Rising Star Award this year. It was absolutely wonderful to receive this award from such an inspiring magazine. We are still on a high from that.

Best piece of advice ever given for interiors?
Can I have a few? A designer I admire said ‘not to deliberate endlessly on the exact shade of your chosen paint colour; because it will look different at different times of day, and on different walls, so just choose without anguish!’ And my old boss once said to me ‘anchor a centre table with a pendant light’. And last but not least, some advice from me to me, ‘if a scheme is proving tricky and not coming together easily, then pause and get out of the office and visit a lovely restaurant or café or hotel, or spend time in a museum, or go to your favourite antique shop, because without realising it you will be picking up on every detail, colour, and composition from these places. The next day when you return to your scheme everything you saw will come together, and somehow become integrated into your design, the scheme will flow’.

Do you think it is worth following a trend or being a free spirit?
Be a free spirit. Loosen the shackles and throw caution to the wind! Timeless interiors are the way to go.

Piece you most wanted to keep for yourself?
So many pieces! A pair of very cool woven rattan chairs with yellow linen cushion covers come to mind, sourced for a recent project from Dudley Waltzer. These eye-catching chairs are laid back and have a sense of fun. A rustic console sourced from The Decorative Collective a while back, and some handmade pink tiles for a bathroom project. And last but not least, this incredible desk that we bought at auction by Pier Luigi Colli. I would love to have a desk like this.

Favourite room of the house?
My flat has a serene sitting room, with windows overlooking a square, if you put your hand out you can almost touch the trees. But I have found more sanctuary recently in my office, where I think clearly and have my samples and books to hand.

How does the architecture of a space inspire your design?
The architecture, gardens and location of the building begin to form the parameters of the design. Having parameters helps with the design process, and sort of captures my ideas, stopping the project from running away with itself. I also love the process of looking into the history of a house.

How have you adapted your work during the pandemic? Lessons learned?
Every aspect of our lives and worlds have been affected by the pandemic haven’t they, and beyond the strangeness of working far away from your clients and team and connecting virtually as standard practice, I have noticed as the year has progressed that extreme patience and kindness is needed. Every one of us is going through our own version of events, and many of us are shocked and feel like the rug has been well and truly pulled away from under our feet. As a studio we have been so fortunate with our projects and clients, who have been appreciative and patient while we have organised ourselves and learnt how to work in this new world we find ourselves in. We have just finished a lovely family home in North London, and I was lucky enough to receive a Christmas gift from this family, and when I turned over the tag on the present it said, ‘Well done for working so hard and so creatively throughout a global pandemic’. I have kept the tag. It sums up the challenges we have all faced. Creativity within a storm of panic has required diligence.

3 inspiring Instagram accounts that you check religiously?
Do I have to choose just three? I can’t possibly narrow it down! Please may I double that?

Your house is on fire, what one thing do you save?
I have 2 pieces of art that hold no monetary value at all, but mean a lot to me. They are blue and white screen prints, made by my Mother and I, and printed onto chip shop paper. We discovered that different papers produce different effects with screen printing, so we begged the local chip shop for a stack of their paper. The paper is thin and has gone a bit crinkly over the years, but the blue paint hasn’t faded at all. We were prestigious makers, and for a while we never actually put the screen print away; it was in constant hectic use. These two pieces remind me of my childhood, and the way my parents endlessly encouraged us to make and create and to enjoy everything and be free.

Olivia’s selection of Favourite items from the Guinevere collection

Follow Olivia on Instagram for more design updates and inspiration @oliviaoutred
Photo Credits Umit Savaci, Sebastian Böttcher, Astrid Templier.