Profiles Feature: Olenka Design. Russian born Olga Shevchenko creates Russian folk wallpaper designs with a twist. Her repeat floral patterns are a new take on traditional Russian Khokhloma art brought to life with a complementary modern colour palette. I caught up with Olga to find out more about Olenka Design and her wonderful luxury wallpaper collection.
Milana Graphite Blue Design
Olga Shevchenko is the designer and owner of Olenka Wallpaper. She tells me about her background, “I grew up in Russia which is also where I studied. My four-year art course was a big factor in becoming a wallpaper designer which was four days a week alongside my main comprehensive schooling. Art schools in Russia are amazing and very popular too. The subjects we studied were Drawing, Painting, Composition, Sculpture, Art history and Folk Arts and Crafts. After school I spent five years studying at Omsk Pedagogical University, in the faculty of Fine Art, which I graduated from in 2000.”
After University Olga wasn’t too sure which career path she should follow, she explains “I could become an Art teacher and carry on painting, but I wasn’t sure about that direction. I was 22 and didn’t feel confident enough to teach in a class. Also, I could create a good artwork given a task, but I had none of my own ideas or message I wanted to deliver through my work. I was looking for an alternative and thought a career in Interior Design would be exciting.”
Neva Blue Design
After graduation Olga tried jobs which she thought might help her to become an Interior Designer. She explains, “I worked for companies selling kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms to gain the relevant experience. That was until I saw an ad for a vinyl flooring designer job at Tarkett, a large international flooring company. It was effectively a Surface Pattern Designer position. I didn’t know much about the job, but the description sounded great and involved travelling overseas. The job was an amazing discovery and it felt like I’d found my flow.”
Velina Pink Peony Design
Wallpaper and fabric design became Olga’s mission, she elaborates “I loved my job at Tarkett but was getting a bit bored working on flooring designs. I wanted to work with wallpapers and fabrics, where there would be more freedom with colours and patterns. But Tarkett designed and manufactured flooring only. I had this idea that I could become an independent designer promoting my own design style across various products ranges. A few years later my partner encouraged me to start my own business and the idea started taking its shape. Timing was good because digital wallpaper printing had become available allowing independent designers enter the market.”
Milana Hot Pink Grey Design
Using her own savings Olga launched her own company in April 2013. The name ‘Olenka’ is a variation of the name Olga. She tells me, “It was my partner’s idea to give the company that name. It’s short, easy to spell and sounds Russian/Slavic, which reflects on my roots and style of my designs.” The business is based in Ilfracombe, North Devon which suits Olga’s family life. The majority of tasks are undertaken by Olga but she does work with a company based in Lancashire to print the wallpaper. The long-term business plan is to add matching interior fabrics and cushions to the product range and undertaken commissions.
View The Olenka Design Wallpaper Collection
Olga sums up her wallpaper designs as “Russian folk with a twist.” She creates floral repeat patterns, which are applied to digitally printed wallpaper. She explains further, “My designs are a new take on traditional Russian Khokhloma art. My current collection of wallpaper is called Russian Fairytale. The name reflects on the source of inspiration and feel of the designs. Traditional Khokhloma patterns featured flowers, leaves and berries. Often a mythical Firebird was included as well. There are certain rules in painting and ways to arrange objects in a composition. And of course, it was hand painted. I love painting all the original Khokhloma elements and organising them into a repeat, so that it can be printed on a wallpaper. I also like to give the tradition a twist by adding a modern colour palette.”
Neva Pink Grey Design
Olga talks me through her creative process, “all my original designs are hand painted. I start with an idea, the kind of pattern I want to create – whether it’s florals, florals and birds, or berries etc. I decide on the scale of the pattern, composition and repeat. Then I draw a pattern using pencil and ink. The next step is to create a pattern repeat and add colour in Adobe Illustrator. I try to get as many different colourways as I can and print them on paper. Then I select the best ones, which I order samples for from my manufacturer. The collection currently includes Milana in Gold, Graphite Blue and Hot Pink with Grey. The Neva design is available in Blue, Pink Grey and Velina in Pink Peony.”
Milana Gold Design
Russian folk art is Olga’s main source of inspiration for her patterns. She also keeps an eye on current trends to help with colourways choices and scale of the designs. Olga tells me about the creative people and companies she admires, “my latest crush is Divine Savages because they are so current and their designs really stand out. I love Interior Designer Sophie Robinson for promoting bold colours in interiors. I admire Abigail Borg for her beautifully drawn botanicals and sophisticated colour schemes. Love the happy vibe of Rachael Taylor designs. And then Cole & Son and Designer’s Guild are amazing of course. That’s to name a few.”
Buy The Olenka Design Wallpaper Collection
For more information please visit the Olenka Design Website. You can buy luxury wallpaper from the online shop. All wallpaper is printed to order. The price is £109 per wallpaper roll. The composition is 180gsm non-woven paper. Roll width is 52cm, length 10.05m and the pattern repeat is 52cm. Apply by pasting the wall. Samples can be provided for £2 each. UK delivery is £5.99 per order, overseas shipping can be organised if you provide the exact location for a quotation. If you would like a custom colourway for any of the designs available on the website, this can be organised. An accurate quote will be provided on request.
Author: Homegirl London. Photographs: Olenka Wallpaper. Thanks: Olga Shevchenko. Disclosure: This is a sponsored feature.