When Broadsheet calls artists Louise Olsen and Stephen Ormandy, it’s one of the coldest and wettest days Sydney has experienced this year. It’s the ideal weather for cosying up inside, and fortunately the couple – best known for their resin homewares and jewellery brand Dinosaur Designs – have just the thing.
Olsen and Ormandy have each designed three hand-knotted rugs inspired by their art practices for Designer Rugs, a company that works with designers and artists such as Romance Was Born, Catherine Martin and Camilla to create rugs that reflect each collaborator’s individual aesthetic. Olsen and Ormandy have worked with Designer Rugs in the past under the Dinosaur Designs banner, but the difference this time around is that the collection is based on the pair’s paintings, rather than their jewellery or homewares, with names such as Seed Pod and Dream Garden (Olsen) and Flamingo and Twilight (Ormandy) referencing the original artworks the rugs are based on.
Each of the 2.4-metre by 3-metre Olsen & Ormandy rugs are made from Tibetan wool (or a combination of Tibetan wool and silk), inspired by the artists’ individual inspirations. For Olsen, it’s nature, and for Ormandy, it’s his artistic explorations of the subconscious mind.
What unites them is a confident and expressive use of colour and form, guaranteed to brighten and provide a talking point in any living room or on any wall. And while both their sculptures and paintings have been exhibited in galleries such as the National Gallery of Victoria, Hazelhurst Gallery and Olsen Gruin New York, they are not at all precious about the rugs.
“They are for the floor – to be walked, sat ... and laid on,” Ormandy tells Broadsheet. “With a painting, you touch with your eyes, but the rugs are all about [physical] touch as well as looks. We love the textures of wool and silk. The touch and feel is so sensuous.”
“It’s important for us to really get underneath the skin of any material and really feel it and listen to what it has to say,” says Olsen.
Olsen says her evocative, colourful creations have been inspired by “the infinite possibilities in nature” to evoke seeds, spores and ever-changing forests. Ormandy’s designs use lines and bright, contrasting colours to create “positive and negative space, searching for tonal balance through contrast or harmony”.
You don’t have to look very far to see how the pair's jewellery, homewares, paintings, sculptures and textiles are stylistically connected. Whether it’s a rug, a ring or a watercolour, Olsen and Ormandy have the same approach.
“We tackle each design project in the way you would tackle a painting or a drawing, really following your eye and letting those accidents and developments happen,” says Ormandy. “We’ve never designed to a market, we’ve always designed to our aesthetic.”
The Olsen & Ormandy collection is available now at Designer Rugs. Prices range from $9072 to $11,340.