Olenka: The Story behind the brand.

Designer Olga from Olenka

It’s been some time since I launched Olenka brand, so probably about time I share my story and inspiration behind Olenka designs!

The story takes me back to my childhood. Growing up in Russia I spent most of my spare time drawing. So, naturally, my parents thought it was a good idea for me to attend an Art School. My mum convinced me to give it a go as “that could lead me to an interesting career in the future”. I was eleven at the time and the only possible job I could think of was drawing pretty dolls’ faces in a toy factory! And with that motivation in mind, I enrolled in the course.

Barnaul Art School was where I first learnt about Russian Crafts such as Khokhloma art, Dymkovo clay toys, Gorodetsky painting, Zhostovo and many others. We practised those painting styles too. At the age of eleven – thirteen none of the Art School pupils took Craft lessons seriously because we had “more important” subjects such as Drawing and Painting. But I still remember our Crafts teacher telling us: “You never know, you might need these skills in the future”. I didn’t take much notice as I thought all those traditional crafts were a thing of the past. It was hard to imagine how those skills could be useful in the future.
Russian Folk art painting styles

Old drawings from my time at the Art School. Left to right: 1. A sketch of chopping board decor using Gorodetsky painting style 2. Practicing Khokhloma painting style 3. Russian Doll (Semenovskaya style)

Many years later I was trying to enter a career in Interior Design but instead, I ended up working for a global flooring manufacturer as a Surface Pattern Designer. It was a lucky accident that pointed me in the right direction. Working for Tarkett was an amazing experience! I learnt to work with with pattern repeat and colourways, found out about trends and how the industry worked. Though I always wondered how none of those beautiful Russian folk patterns had been applied to homeware products. And that’s when the idea of creating my own brand dedicated to Russian craft heritage was born. It was the time I remembered my old Craft teacher and her words of wisdom. Strangely enough, I came across her picture while I was doing some research online about Khokhloma history. The sign!

Russian Crafts teacher. Pracaticing Khokhloma painting style.

Left to right: 1. My Art School teacher (the image I came across online) 2&3. Practicing Khokhloma style elements at the Art School – the drawings are about 30 years old!

Olenka started off with a few wallpaper designs inspired by the iconic Khokhloma art. The striking designs feature swirls of exquisitely detailed flowers and leaves, complemented by freehand brush strokes. Inspired by the traditional painting style, the patterns were given a fresh look by using the modern colour palette. New designs and colourways are in the progress and I’m developing new products to add to Olenka wallpaper collection. A new lampshade range has only just been launched and I feel very excited about adding some amazing fabrics to our range of beautifully designed homeware products!

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