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October 09, 2016

How the Designer Lives with Olga Jarvis

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Influenced by the many countries she's lived and worked in, London-based designer Olga Jarvis shares with us her top cultural inspirations and creative design hacks.

Hailing from Moscow, Olga Jarvis' success as an interior designer has led her from Russia to Oman, to Hong Kong, Cyprus, London and beyond. Having travelled and worked in more than 50 countries, it’s fair to say that Olga is in high demand on a global scale.

Gathering inspiration from the many countries she’s visited, Olga has a particular fondness for the principles of feng shui that she picked up over the months she spent working on a project in China. “The aesthetic is so different there, but I was intrigued by the logic of it, so I decided to learn all I could about feng shui in hopes of enriching my projects with future clients” she says, candidly. Olga explains that feng shui translates to 'Wind and Water' and that the main principle of feng shui is to balance the flow of energies in nature, within the home. "There are five essential elements in the ancient art of feng shui: Fire, Water, Wood, Metal and Earth and it's the correct combination of these elements that brings a space to life" she tells us.

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One of the easiest and most useful feng shui tips Olga gives to her clients is to clear out clutter. “Positive energy must be able to flow freely throughout your home, and nothing should block the path” she insists. "The first impression your guests receive when they walk through the door is of utmost importance - a beautiful piece of art, a console table with flowers, or any other objects that immediately evokes feelings of calm and cheerfulness is a must."

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When asked what she loves most about working with clients, Olga’s response is considered: “They trust you with their most sacred place – their sanctuary. It’s such rewarding work to make their vision of paradise a reality”. As a seasoned designer Olga has had her fair share of projects ranging from entire houses to small London spaces and she notes that it doesn’t matter if it’s one room or a large house - for her it’s always worth it to make people happy and relay something wonderful that makes a client's life more peaceful, more exciting, more beautiful.

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Olga admits she has a hard time taking off her creative hat at times. “On weekends I love to meet friends for a coffee in Colbert on Sloane Square and look at what people are wearing, imagining what this person’s house might look like” she confesses. The process of creating special environments tailored to an individual's particular tastes is clearly a deep seated passion. “When I was a girl, I loved drawing houses, building with Lego and moving furniture around my doll house. As I got older I was always arranging and rearranging my room - I think it worried my mum at one point.” Olga says with a laugh. “In my 20s I realised that I could take this passion seriously and make a career of it, which has been the most rewarding decision.”

magazine-olga-bedroom Image @ Olga Jarvis

One of the designer’s recent projects was for a young couple who were looking for a modern revamp in a building that had many classical Victorian features, so typical of London architecture. “We had some construction challenges to say the least” says Olga. The flat itself is located just off Trafalgar Square and that is where she took her creative inspiration. "Charles Barry designed the Square in 19th century Italianate style and in 2002 Norman Foster pedestrianised the north side of the Square, adding a central flight of steps leading down from the National Gallery to the famous fountains" Olga explains. "This inspired me to use pelmets for the window treatment in the living room, to create an effect of tall pediment windows, characteristic of the surrounding neighbourhood."

3 Image @ Olga Jarvis

Noting that the couple were keen guitar players living in the midst of the theatre district, Olga took this into consideration when addressing the biggest structural challenge in the property - an odd raised bit of floor in the centre of the living room. "I created a wide step from grey granite that can be used as extra seating space next to the newly installed ethanol fireplace" she says. "It mimics a stage and is a perfect place to entertain guests, so this solution worked on multiple levels."

In order to create a warm home atmosphere for them, Olga then used different finishes: wood, metal coffee tables, a shagreen cabinet, leather top finish for the dining table, soft velvet finishes for the sofa, and lovely furry cushions to add a bit of cosiness. "I was trying to achieve a contemporary style, keeping in mind the historical location of the flat" Olga topped this off with Porta Romana’s earthy and hip lollipop chandelier and a mirrored wall with a long shelf and cupboards which served to enlarge and brighten up the room.

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