I met Ola through our mutual friend Lynette in 2014 when I moved to Paris to teach English. I knew we’d have a lot in common before I even met her; born in London to Nigerian parents, living in Paris and loves textiles just like me. Two years later and I count her as a really good friend. The kind of friend that waits patiently for you while you rummage the €1 box in vintage stores on Rue de Rivoli or has the same stamina and excitement while shopping for leather baseball caps in the overwhelmingly busy Grand Bazaar in Turkey.
I met up with Ola for a catch up on her flying visit back to London to talk about her work, inspiration and process.
How did you get into textiles?
I studied a foundation diploma at The London College of Fashion in Hackney. I realised I really liked textile design because I liked to draw and within fashion I felt like the emphasis wouldn’t be on painting and drawing. I came from a fine art background and textiles was the right creative pathway for my design skills. I had the option of going into fashion without compromising my love of drawing, painting and illustration. I then went on to a textiles degree at Central Saint Martins.
Textiles is the beginning and it doesn’t necessarily have to end in fashion.
Right, you can apply it to whatever you like. I could go into interior design, become an artist or homeware designer. There are so many possibilities and at my time in design school I was someone who wasn’t ready to commit to one thing or skill. I wanted to learn within the realms of textiles and figure out how I wanted to apply it.
What are your favourite types of textiles?
I really like woven fabrics; I love jacquard and find it really amazing that there are loads of possibilities and design outcomes. I think my job has also given me a new appreciation of weave in particular. I like prints too; it’s technically my first love because it’s what I specialise in.
What kinds of printing techniques do you use?
At the moment I mainly work using digital prints but I do enjoy screen printing when I get the opportunity. I enjoy making abstract prints through mark making and creating textures, so using hand printing techniques can be very useful. The outcomes are often pretty cool and complex, even the mistakes.
What are your favourite fabrics to print on?
I love the rich vivid colours that can be acheived by printing onto silk
If you do, how do you incorporate textiles into your daily wear?
The way I wear certain textiles has changed a lot since I’ve got older. When I was in uni or college it was all about print, colours, leopard basically piling it all on. I was print obsessed! I wanted everything to be about print, down to my shoes.
Hahaha it’s like you have to let everyone know “hey I do print, I do textiles”.
Exactly, right now I’m more chilled out. It’s about having signature pieces that stand out. I think people appreciate that more.
What are some of your favourite fabrics to wear?
Difficult question, they all have their time and place. Though I do love a good silk shirt, I’m also very fond of wearing denim.
You’re originally a Londoner but now reside in Paris. What are some of your favourite museums and galleries to visit for textiles inspiration?
In Paris I love visiting the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, they have a good permanent collection of clothing, furniture, graphic design etc. They often have really good temporary exhibitions too, from an exhibition on Dries Van Noten to an exhibition on modern arts & crafts in Korea.
Tell me about your job.
I work in an archive company that keeps French textile designs from about the1890s to the 1980s. We sell vintage fabrics and block prints to designers and artists. As well as archiving designs some are further developed, cleaned up, repeats are finished and any damage created over the years is fixed. We provide inspiration from the past. Some prints don’t look so great when we first get them, so we do what we can to improve them. It can be as simple as changing the colours to make a print more modern. Doing this helps the buyer visualise the potential of a print. So I spend a lot of time on photoshop. It’s a very inspiring place to work and to see the capabilities of textiles.
What are your goals and future plans in textiles?
To work for myself full time. I have a few ideas for projects that I am beginning to explore. Watch this space! I would love to collaborate with other designers or brands, and get my prints onto things such as furniture or ceramics. More creative flexibility is really important. Being able to travel more and learn about new and different techniques, especially within print, is a goal for me.
Can you recommend any good books for lovers of textiles?