Designer Interview Series: Olivia Giangrasso

Olivia Giangrasso is a Sydney - based Interior Designer, passionate about crafting and delivering quality, modern and stylish interiors.

We’re excited to embark on our first designer interview series, and today the spotlight is on our talented friend Olivia Giangrasso. Believe it or not, our paths first crossed during my initial foray into interior design as an intern – an experience that not only introduced me to the world of design but also led to meeting my now-husband and business partner, Jahan. It’s been over 11 years since those early days, and Olivia has consistently stood out as a remarkably talented designer and all-around lovely person. As we catch up with you, Olivia, we’re eager to hear about your recent ventures and the exciting plans you have in store. The recent unveiling of your new website beautifully showcases the homes you’ve meticulously designed, and we’re ready to dive into our conversation to unravel the journey that has kept you busy and inspired.

So, Olivia, let’s get into it!

Could you please give us a quick introduction of yourself, when did you first decide you wanted to become an Interior Designer?

I have always gravitated towards design – growing up I was constantly fixated with the way things looked. I was drawn to well-designed spaces, places, product, theatre sets, art…anything that stood out captivated me. I guess I liked that you can unleash your imagination, and that was something that always excited me about design, infinite possibilities of what you can create. When deciding between studying Architecture or Interior Architecture at UTS, it came down to my fixation with the inside. 

When we first met you were working in the commercial Interiors world, what lead you to eventually start your own business in Residential design?

A combination of two things, full autonomy and flexibility, allowing me to create work patterns where I could be as present as possible for my daughter. The second driver was wanting to switch things up and challenge myself to be ultimately responsible for the end output. 

We love how your aesthetic is both classic yet modern at the same time. Is this a conscious decision when navigating a project?

I find beauty in simplicity and most definitely have a deep seeded second nature to design spaces that feel timeless yet contemporary. I like for the grand design gestures to be minimal and uncomplicated, but then overlay with a collection of components that all somehow work together to make the space feel cohesive – a process that is largely intuitive. I subscribe to the idea that trends come and go, but quality is permanent. I also consciously think about re-sale for clients, not over-investing, and how best to add value to their home, so that also influences my decision to try and keep things quite contemporary. 

To create that perfect balance of elegance and timelessness, do you have any go-to tricks when styling a room?

One of the biggest challenges is sourcing art and décor that is inimitable, to make a space feel truly personalised. I love to unravel what is important to the client, then going on a hunt to source items and select components that I know will resonate and make the space feel special for them. I like to pair things back and also lean on specifying design classics that become a piece of history in the home, and innately hold their value. Take the Paulistano chair - it might be new from the factory, but it was designed in 1957 by Paulo Mendes for an Athletic club in Sao Paulo. Something that is almost 70 years old, yet has a purity and elegance that is timeless and yet exceptionally comfortable. 

How important do you think rugs are in defining and styling your space?

I love that rugs can be either the finishing touch (sourced at the final stage), or can be the inspiration for the beginning of a space. Because they are most often en-mass, I always like to think of them as oversized artwork, hence an important piece of the puzzle due to their impact and scale

We’d love to hear which of Rug Porter rugs are your favourite and why?

At the moment I love Ayda, Avra, Pearl & Layla. They are all very textural yet not overcomplicated, which would give any space rich depth and a sense of quality. 

Today there can be so many distractions, how do you stay motivated and creative amongst it all? Any tips?

I find my motivation comes from both the world of design directly, but also from other creative fields. I love seeing new work released from visionary creatives like Simon Porte Jacquemus and Sabine Marcelis. I am also inspired by chef Josh Niland whose work is truly inventive and ground breaking. 

Finally, after navigating the design world for over 17 years, what would your advice be to someone considering a career in Interior Design?

Function, then form. I am a big believer in concentrating on rigorous space planning and the function to achieve a brief, well before considering what a space should ‘look’ like - and avoiding the Pinterest vortex of images. 

thank you olivia for sharing your valuable insights. make sure you sign up to our newsletter to not miss our upcoming interview series. we've been in the design industry for a while now, and we're excited to celebrate our industry and highlight our talented friends and colleagues.

Discover Olivia's beautiful work

Photographer: Dave Wheeler