OWD is a small family owned business. our products include Australian designed pure silk and wool scarves, stemming from handcrafted botanical illustrations by Oliver Wilkinson. Over the years, Oliver has developed his own kind of visual handwriting, exploring the juxtaposition created by combining a natural, curving, more wild image with the structured mathematics of a lattice or parquet flooring pattern.
in combining these highly contrasting elements he noticed it only enhances the visual-value.
it’s a good mantra to live by, “that through layering differences we celebrate and support these’”
about oliver wilkinson
I was born in Melbourne, Australia in 1985 and spent many of my early childhood memories in the garden and grounds of a small farm on the Mornington Peninsula. My three siblings and I had many adventures there, riding our ponies, wandering through our orchard, swinging out over our dam on a much beloved rope and making cubbies in a reserve that ran along the edge of the property which we’d aptly named “the wild wood”.
My parents both enjoyed design-driven careers, my mother as a creative Interior Designer and my father as an Architect and London trained Landscape designer. Our home and the before-mentioned garden of my childhood were true labours-of-love for both of them and their creative exuberance was woven into every room and inhabited each magical green space within which we were blessed to grow.
At the end of our orchard, within a horseshoe-fairy-ring of curving espalier pears, my father had lovingly trained and clipped a hedge into a perfect rabbit, standing on it's hind legs at least ten feet tall, who every Easter held the largest chocolate egg, from the hunt, clutched between his leafy front paws.
In the summer we would run out into he garden almost every morning and pick passionfruit from a shady vine that created a magical avenue below the steep slopes of agapanthus along the edge of the dam.
In the garden of my childhood, my father had created a space that was both romantic and relaxed, it was composed without being constrained and it was a place where magic lived.
My mother on the other hand gave grace, warmth and refinement to the interiors. Each of the rooms she created was a panoply of beloved fabrics that was then filled with family furniture, drenched in memories. The kitchen always exuded aromas of deliciousness and most weekends the dining table was crammed with interesting friends-for-lunch who would devour both the shared conversation and the tantalising gourmet delights their hostess had lovingly cooked up.
At the age of nine around the middle of 1995 my parents took a job in France, using their creative skill-sets and qualifications. They were employed to renovate a large and dilapidated manor house (that was once also a Cistercian abbey). Our family of six relocated to this quite extraordinary, densely wooded and isolated property where we spent two and a half years living incredible cultural and evolutionary adventures.
Creatively, in terms of cultural and historical context, this experience was quite fundamental in my pursuit of a career in art and fashion design. I remember visiting and being in awe of local castles and medieval churches with their incredible ornamentation, lattice windows and vaulted ceilings of intricate patterning. Our nearest major city during this French period was Aubusson, the world-famous home of carpet and tapestry weaving since the fifth century. I remember visiting the weavers there and being drawn in by their admirable skills in lacing together vivid patterns and amazing symmetry. I remember visiting some weavers in 1996, who were creating a detailed carpet for the British royal family, a gift from the French republic. It had ornate arching shell-like cones in golden pinks and deep blue fronds curling in at the sides. I noted that in order to further highlight the details, the teams would not only weave the shapes, but would also cut the pile in order to make the design a textured relief and angled surface, exuding depth.
After school I pursued my tertiary education at Melbourne’s RMIT before being accepted into a masters program at the Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne in Paris. I arrived in the September of 2009, at the very beginning of Autumn, and all the Parisians had just returned to the buzzing city following their August summer breaks. Paris was so enriching, and I soon began working at Yves Saint Laurent, following my studies on the Avenue Gorges V. Here I was charged with a wide variety of creative tasks including the collection’s colour board for each approaching season. At my interview I remember quite vividly, having proposed a collection inspired by Marrakesh and in particular inspired by Monsieur Saint Laurent’s famous garden there. He entertained friends in a magical sanctuary through the 1970s in particular. It was a very stylish time, many icons of style and art were lounging about the exotic gardens and under the eves of intricate Marocain architecture. The design team who interviewed me really liked these creative ideas and they were taken up then and there, along with me, to be further developed for the coming collection. It was an incredible experience creating with the teams of experts at such an iconic French fashion institution and we had many adventures.
In my thirties, following career experiences for a selection of other fashion designers I branched out into creating my own made-to-measure pieces for private clients and then when the city of Melbourne entered its long Covid 19 lockdowns in the winter of 2020 I delved into and used this time to indulge my love of textile placement and print design.
I had accumulated quite a selection of illustrations in sketchbooks over my years of creating, drawing and painting, and with the long evenings of isolation created by the strict measures imposed by these lockdowns I was able to cut, rearrange and frame my selections of past personal art to create new outcomes. As I spent these hours evolving my body of work I started to nut out a bit of a visual handwriting that I felt a particular fondness for and connection to. Fundamentally I liked the juxtaposition created by combining a natural, curving, more wild image with the structured mathematics of a lattice or parquet flooring pattern.
I started to like the way that combining these two elements, instead of challenging one another, appeared to enhance and add increased visual-value to their differences. I also like this proposition, not only visually, but also psychologically as to me it says: “through layering differences we celebrate and support these’”. In my opinion this is a good mantra to live by.