Oleg Klodt and Anna Agapova are, respectively, the Founder and Creative Director of Oleg Klodt Architecture & Design with offices in London and Moscow. It’s our pleasure to present this amazing interview with O&A Design Studio Creators.
Even though they are Business Partners they describe their Work Process in different manners, but with the same purpose. Koldt refers “I am fully involved in the process of creativity and enjoy both the process and the result equally. Perhaps the most interesting thing is for me to solve complex psychological problems. Working on the project, we literally live on it. We lie down on the bed, enter the dressing room, climb into the closet. So we try to understand what is convenient and important for a person”. The Creative Director Anna Agapova “experiences catharsis at the moment when I am already in the finished interior. I am a tactile person, it is important for me to physically experience the interior, to enjoy shades, textures, semitones, and nuances. Even after so many years of experience, for me, this moment is akin to the feeling that a child experiences when opening a Christmas present – a fairy tale, magic, magic, and awe”.
“When you create a project for a person, you must understand his rhythm of life, what he does and what he really needs. At the same time, in my opinion, the interior should not be a visible designer. After all, we do not express ourselves in the profession, we create beautiful space and beautiful things for very specific people”. Oleg Koldt
Even though the Oleg Klodt Architecture & Design is, nowadays, a Solid Design Studio in a fast-growing expansion things weren’t always so brightly, Kold remember that in 2008 during the Economic Crisis that affected the World, the number of orders decreased which led to some complicated times, but despite the harsh times that led to some sacrifices, Koldt is now very grateful to this crisis because during this period he realized what he likes to do and this made him work harder to salvage the business. It was during this tumultuous time that the Studio managed to implement a project that immediately got on the page of the leading interior publications and received a number of professional awards, which gave a qualitative impetus to the development of this top architectural bureau.
Anna Agapova wasn’t with Oleg Klodt Architecture & Design Studio in 2008, but she also shared a story of her recent past that made her learn but also fall in love once more for this industry: “Almost a year ago, I moved from Moscow to London to manage our international O & A Design office, which is a challenge for me. I had to adapt not only to the language, but also to the culture, peculiarities of building a business and, most importantly, to a completely new type of customer, interaction with which is the key to success in interior design (…) I often hear the surprise of my colleagues, who tell us about what we do and the interiors, and produce our own interior collections, enter into unusual collaborations. Of course, everything does not always work out, it is a big and difficult way of trial and error, but after all, our life is not a draft, it is one, the other will not, therefore you need to try. My motto: “Do what you must and come what may.”
Following this moto by Agapova, Oleg Klodt Architecture & Design accomplished in 2018 one main Business Goal when they released the first textile collection with Holland & Sherry, whose nearly two centuries of experience in the production of exclusive fabrics have no analogs in the world market. This first collection was devoted to Scotland and, in nine designs, this collection told the story of a journey through this amazing land. This project is being led by Agapova that, now his engaging in the second collection called “Cities”, in which she will try to convey the feeling of every beloved city throughout the master of fabrics.
Proud of this accomplishment, Koldt continues to look further and is still searching for new ways to grow the business. Even though he is satisfied with everything that was done and wouldn’t attempt to go back in time to fix something, Koldt understands that time is rushing inexorably forward and he still wants to accomplish plenty. That’s why Oleg and his Studio are starting to grow from private projects to cooperate with developers to do more commercial projects and even public spaces.
“It is incredibly exciting to solve new problems, to communicate with different types of customers.” Olek Koldt
But does this continuous change in the business structure affects the motivation of the two leaders of this project? Not in the slightest way. The studio is expanding their business, but the motivation is well beyond the normal standards and we’re not only talking about individual motivation, but also about a collective motivation: “ Well, creating an interior is always a co-creation. For example, a musician, painter, sculptor or dancer create their own works on their own, they are engaged in pure art. In architecture and design, everything is different. You can not create in a creative vacuum, you should always be in dialogue with the customer. Trust is the foundation on which a beautiful and viable interior is built.”
This lead to a talk about the Creative Process of this Studio and these two Leaders. Koldt loves to revisit spaces he created so he can reflect on his work and what the clients latter altered in it. This proves that Design is an Ever-Changing Industry, so what is created today can be changed tomorrow. This could be damaging for any Designer’s mind, but Koldt takes the higher road on this position and clearly defends that “a good interior is flexible” and that is all he needs to know to continue to do his work.
This idea is shared by Agapova that admits that for 20 years, Oleg Klodt Architecture & Design have accumulated vast experience in creating unique items for their own design projects and this experience has helped the studio understand what is really lacking in the market. But they now that this past experience is not a legacy but rather an opportunity to improve because the design is changing constantly. That’s why they didn’t decide to stay in their safe zone in Moscow, but rather opened an international office in London and launched their own collection of furniture, lighting, textiles, wallpaper, and carpets under our own brand O & A London.
Even though they admit that Design is Changing and that they are expanding their Core Business, Oleg Klodt Architecture & Design still is a name to be reckoned with within the Interior Design Industry. This studio regularly publishes their projects in leading professional media outlets and have friendly relations with all publishing editors. A big part of being successful is showing and someone can do right and that’s why this studio loves to share with their world their design vision. They pat great attention to social networks, because the world has changed and, if earlier publications in such magazines as Elle Decoration and Architectural Digest were the key to getting new customers, now this is not so. The presence on the pages of these respected media is more fashionable and serves to maintain the focus of the brand.
This vision is shared by Agapova that cements the work that the studio has done to create a world-known brand in all media outlets: “We were one of the first architectural bureaus in Russia that took on not only a PR specialist but also began working with international PR agencies. Looking through the pages and websites of foreign publications, I often wondered why so few of our compatriots are published on the pages of international publications because over the past 20 years we have a lot of good designers and decent projects. The problem is in the weak PR. Design and architecture are very complex art forms, they are not easy to communicate to the general public. Designers are visuals, they create pictures, but only a handful can bring their ideas. This requires mediators that can help spread the word”.
Looking back at this studio’s high popularity we can say for sure that their strategy is working and we can only expect bigger things for them in this chapter. But that’s not all we can expect from them in the near future. The studio is currently working on 15 new projects of various scales at the same time, and they are also are making a new collection of furniture, textiles, and carpets that will be present at the London Design Festival and Decorex 2019.
This amount of projects required many sources of inspiration. Not only for the creative process, but also for the practical application of the concepts/ideas and the marketing work that must be done adjacently. Koldt and Agapova both agree that time alone is the better way to gain inspiration and to master a plan of attack, but they also agree that teamwork and brainstorming is also an essential part of this studio’s inspirational and creative journey!
And “the people machine” is a very big part of this studio’s daily life. The staff of the Moscow and London offices of Oleg Klodt Architecture & Design has about 100 people and all of them are involved in a certain part of any project. That’s why this studio proud themselves of presenting a full cycle for any project because through several people they are always involved!
The mechanisms of this process are better explained by Agapova: “Since Oleg is an architect and I am a designer, the work on each project is built in this way: Oleg creates a shell, and I fill it. Our bureau is a huge clockwork, cohesively working on bringing the project to life, right down to the slippers beside the bed. This is a system where not just a beautiful interior is developed, but the entire service sector is offered to the client so that nothing will disturb them. Already in the first stage of the project, we offer maximum visualization and create 3D images of the future interior. After that comes a massive project bundling unit and specifying all the beautiful things in the image. Then the architecture department, the project implementation department, the management department, which monitors each stage, come into play. We also have an art department that picks up all the pieces of art and decor for the interior.”
And what would Oleg Klodt Architecture & Design say about trends in the design world? In an Architectural Point of View, Koldt defends since the end of the last century, new styles did not appear in the interiors. The last was deconstructionism. Further on, the well-known styles, read in a new way, began to enter into fashion. Everything develops cyclically, in a spiral: first, the classics become fashionable, then Art Deco, then the avant-garde of the 1960–70s comes into vogue … Because of the general pace of life, which accelerates every year, styles alternate more often and even sometimes shuffled. But each time, appearing again, they have transformed thanks to the new technologies that appeared during this time.
Agapova is a bit more technical in her trend prediction because although she admits it’s impossible to predict today what style will become fashionable tomorrow, it’s easy to assume that high-tech items will become increasingly in demand. These items will be able to fit into any space and they will certainly be environmentally friendly and economical in terms of energy consumption. All in all, Agapova believes that the growing trend will be a design trend capable of solving many problems.
Speaking about her Clients, both Agapova and Koldt have a very clear image of what they are: “They are educated, intelligent people who conscientiously perform their “work of the customer”, that is, they try to convey their vision as clearly as possible, wishes that can argue, but also hear and find compromises. In such a dialogue, ideas are always born and breakthroughs happen.”
Even though they are two Big Names in the Design Industry, Agapova and Koldt have some top design inspirations. They named their love for the furniture British designer Falkner, but also for the works of the British master Valeria Nascimento. But overall, American Design is closer to the Studio and Koldt, therefore top names like Hervé Vaan der Sträeten, Eric Schmitt, Holly Hunt, and Jean de Merry Galleries are at the top of their design preferences.