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Journal

Homegrown Fold Studio

Fold Studio is a Sydney based studio designing and fabricating high-end contemporary folding room dividing screens. Stemming from a love of textiles, Pauline Ollman, founder and designer has an extensive background in the architectural and interiors industries overseas and in Australia and her studio aims to create unique, elegant, functional responses to modern-day living needs.  Here, Pauline gives us the lowdown on how her creative concept came to fruition.

JD

Tell us about your background

FS

I have always been passionate about contemporary architecture and started work drafting and model making in New Zealand, going on to work for Foster & Partners in their London, Hong Kong and Frankfurt offices in an administrative capacity.  It was an exciting place to work, being involved in ground-breaking projects (like the Hong Kong Bank and the British Museum extension) with particular emphasis always on attention to detail!  

I married an architect and our two children were born in Frankfurt and London.  Back in Sydney, I completed a design course and was fortunate to get a job at Mokum/James Dunlop Textiles in their Sydney showroom, assisting designers with selecting fabrics for various projects.  It was a dream being surrounded by such beautiful textiles!  I went on to set up my own company working with other designers, including the former Mokum designer, Bethany Linz, and sourcing fabrics.  Later I worked as studio manager for Akin Atelier, architects and interior designers of high end retail stores, residential and hospitality projects, also helping source fabrics for some of their projects.  

My inspiration is John Pawson, the English minimalist architect.  My flat-mate in London used to work for him, so it was an honour to meet him and introduce him to Lord Norman Foster - the meeting of two great minds!

JD

Tell us about your business, what made you move into this area and what is your speciality? 

FS

I always loved pouring over patterns and fabrics when growing up and my mother was a great sewer.  When I worked with Bethany, I wanted a vehicle through which to display her beautiful designs - hence the idea for the screens.  Coco Chanel’s stunning Chinoiserie screens and Alva Aalto’s Artek screens are an inspiration, and I saw an opportunity to re-explore the concept of the screen as a back-drop; not dissimilar to the style and elegance of the 1920’s/1930’s, but that would also respond to our every-day living needs.  As apartments are becoming smaller, there is a need to divide spaces in children’s bedrooms or screen off work areas with people working more from home.

JD

Who is your customer? 

FS

The current, first collection appeals to lovers of contemporary, minimal spaces; architects and designers.  However, being able to select your own timber and fabrics does allow for individual tastes.  More collections are planned to encompass wider tastes.

JD

What did you want to achieve with each design?  

FS

I aim to have a wide appeal to a large audience whilst, most importantly, retaining the design integrity and quality of each design.  Our design philosophy is founded upon a minimal aesthetic, showcasing beautiful timbers and fabrics, working with a team of talented local craftsmen in our home city. 

JD

What was your inspiration in starting the business/designing these products? 

FS

I was looking for a way to satisfy my design ideas and creativity by combining my love of well-designed products and textiles, in a practical sense.  As much as I love architecture, I can work with fabrics and talk about them for hours - certainly my happy place!

JD

Which James Dunlop Textiles/Mokum fabrics have been used?  

FS

I instantly loved the depth of the latest colours of the Soho range, which is a Belgian linen/viscose blend with a Teflon finish for the 'Fabric-Fold' screens.  The deep earthy colours, like Forest and Sanctuary, with the combination of Dijon and Lizard, resonated immediately.  They reminded me of the rugged scenery in the South Island of New Zealand.  The Velluti velvet fabric range is a particular favourite, with a huge range of the most beautiful colours - allowing clients to mix and match to their heart’s content.  I’m also really impressed with the Lusk range as, although it comprises 88% poly, 12% linen, it looks like linen - and I particularly love the Salt, Reflect and Moonstone colours.  

JD

What was the reason behind the fabric choices?  How did they answer the brief?  

FS

The Soho fabric colours suited the range of Oak, Walnut or Ash timbers that the screen frames are available in.  There is a subtle smoothness and quality to the fabric, yet it is sturdy enough to sit taut.  Similarly, the Lusk fabric is so easy to work with and sits beautifully within the frame.  Velluti velvet offers a sense of elegance and luxury, so the screen elevates the space to become a statement piece if desired.  Alternatively, the Velluti velvet in pastel shades also looks beautiful in a baby or child’s bedroom.  All three fabrics come in an amazing array of colours and I encourage clients to play around with the colours of the panels and have some fun.

JD

How long does your design journey take from start to finish?  

FS

The designs of the screens have been bubbling away and evolving over the past five years when time allowed, but life seems to intervene.  The idea would just not go away, so decided to pursue it in earnest last year.  It actually felt quite emotional when I saw one in a stockist’s shop recently, thinking about what a journey it had been.  The most important thing, for me, has been working with such lovely, supportive, talented people and making the whole experience fun for everyone!

JD

Was anyone else involved in the design?  

FS

My former colleague at Akin, architect Jenna Rowe, was a wonderful help in bouncing ideas off and refining the final panel design.  That was when we weren’t discussing recipes and chatting about fun things to do and see.  She also designed my beautiful website while I provided the text and photos.  I’ve also discussed ideas with my family who are all creative in their various fields of architecture (Sven), music (Kai) whilst my photographer daughter, Kira, was particularly helpful in styling the shoot.  Adam from Modanest was pivotal in the design and weaving of our beautiful 'Woven Fold' screen and David Muston was the joiner extraordinaire! 

JD

Where have your room dividers been used to date?  

FS

The screens have been used primarily in residential settings to date.  However, I was recently asked for two screens to separate an open-plan office, so will look forward to seeing those insitu.  Staff can select their timbers for frames as well as favourite fabrics, so it will make for an attractive space.  As the website has only been launched, it will be interesting to see how the screens are adopted for more commercial use.

JD

Anything else you would like to tell us about the project?

FS

I hope that people will embrace this accessory and get life-long pleasure from them.  Also, that they will enjoy the wonderful selection of beautiful fabrics that are available at Mokum/James Dunlop Textiles which are particularly suited to our part of the world and be imaginative when mixing and matching their panels to creative stunning room dividers. 

See more on Fold Studio here.

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