Sitting Down with Young Melbourne Designer Oliver Davis
For Oliver Davis, creative director of Oliver Davis Design, a love of interior design started at an early age. When Oliver was 12 and traveling in the U.S. with his parents, he discovered Architectural Digest, and in addition to serving as his introduction to his future career, it remains one of his key sources of inspiration. Based in Melbourne, Oliver works to bring together a sense of timelessness in his projects, pairing classic proportion and contemporary elements.
He works hard to keep the focus on the best craftsmanship, and travels the world sourcing items and partnering with artisans to maintain a one-of-a-kind look and feel. He works to create warmth with soft, neutral colour palettes and infuses natural elements into his projects such as stone, timber, and linen.
1. When did you first decide to become an interior designer and how did you get started with your design business?
I was 12 years old when I realised I wanted to become an interior designer. I was travelling in the US with my family and found a copy of Architectural Digest in our hotel room. I was instantly obsessed. My parents bought me a subscription to that magazine and I’ve kept every single issue since then. It’s become quite a library and I go to it regularly for inspiration.
I got started my own business in 2012. I had completed my bachelor degree in Interior Architecture and was fortunate enough to hold roles with a couple of great design firms early in my career, but realised I was ready to launch my own practice. Like most interior designers I have strong opinions about design, and I was ready to start delivering projects according to my own vision, rather than the vision of others!
2. What is the most challenging part of your job?
I’m really comfortable with the creative aspects of running a design firm, but I struggle with some of the more administrative sides of the business - I’m lucky to have great help in these areas.
3. Is there an interior design style you favour and do you have your own design aesthetic
It’s so hard for me to succinctly describe my design aesthetic with words, even though I know exactly what it looks like. I strive for something timeless, something you might find in a European apartment as much as a southern Californian beach residence.
There is a mixture of old and new in every space I create – utilising contemporary upholstery, mid-century French or Italian lighting, antique casegoods, or custom joinery. I try to stick to refined, natural materials such as stone, timber, linen and brass, whist creating a sense of restfulness with a soft, neutral colour palette.
4. Who are other interior designers you admire?
- Rees Roberts + Partners
- Stephen Gambrel
- Waldo Fernandez
- Rose Uniacke
5. What inspires you?
I have always had a soft spot for beautiful hotels and resorts in far flung destinations around the world. I love to travel and I love to unwind, and I get a lot of inspiration when I allow myself a bit of a getaway. I think this is reflected in my work – the home can and should be somewhere that feels both sophisticated and relaxed.
6. What do you think is the essential piece of furniture we should all have in our bedroom?
A really chic and comfortable armchair is vital in a master bedroom. Preferably with some nice occasional lighting to make it a welcoming place to curl up with a good book or magazine.
7. What key element do we all need for a chic living room?
8. Do you have a favourite project or story behind a project?
A few years ago I was working with a client and she told me that she that for her 10 year anniversary her husband had offered to buy her a big new diamond ring but she turned it down and said that instead of the ring she wanted Oliver Davis Design to work on her new house. I’m still always surprised when people have heard of my work.
Let's Get Personal .....
1. What else are you passionate about besides your work?
I love to travel! Anywhere and everywhere!
2. What is your most treasured belonging?
A 19th century medallion depicting the Pantheon in Rome. My Dad gave it to me for my birthday when we visited Rome one summer many years ago. It’s not worth very much but it reminds me of my family and the fun we had that particular holiday. He found it in a little antique shop run by an English lady on a quiet back street and somehow managed to purchase it without me noticing!
3. What's one thing people may not know about you?
When I was a kid I lived on a tropical island of the coast of Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory while my anthropologist father was working with the local aboriginal people.
4. In 10 years I'd like to be ....
If I could still be doing what I’m doing now in 10 years time I’d be very happy.
5. What can't you live without?
My two Italian Greyhounds Shanks & Bean. And a gin martini on a Friday night!
Oliver hopes to continue designing and working with clients for many years, while also taking time to travel and come across inspiration. He feels his work could be found anywhere from a European apartment to a relaxed, casual California beach house with its sense of balance and cohesion.