20 // 20: Interview with Monique Stamp
10 Sep 2020

O&A London celebrates its 20th anniversary this year! With a growing number of international projects, and in order to create distinctive collections of furniture, lighting, textile, wallpaper and rugs under its unique brand, the company develops collaborative projects with amazing and talented people. We are fortunate to work with leaders in their field: people who do not see boundaries and make the impossible possible. We proudly name these creators, not just as partners but as co-designers and friends.

We are now delighted to announce the anniversary project «20 // 20». The project will present a series of exclusive interviews. The first interview is with the executive Director Riviere company, our faithful partner for ten years, Monique Stamp. Just a few days before the start of the London Design Festival 2020 Monique told about workshops in Nepal, ecological issues and new collaborations.

Monique Stamp and Anna Agapova

O&A: Monique, what did you dream about when you were a child? What did you want to be?

MS: I grew up in Wales, Cardiff – a great place with the right balance of city life and nature. I’ve come from quite a creative family, so it was natural for me to follow a creative field. I don’t entirely recall what I dreamed as a child, but as a young teen, I dreamed of becoming an artist or fashion designer.

O&A: Tell us about your professional path? How did you start working for Riviere?

MS: Art, fashion and interiors are subjects I’ve always been attracted to. Having studied art and design whilst working as a make-up artist for TV, theatre and eventually fashion brands such as Dior I stumbled into the world of Riviere. A friend introduced me to company founders Camilla and Leo Riviere. Upon visiting the showroom, I fell in love with the palettes of colour tufts and textures used to create these beautiful pieces. Coupled with the history behind the artisan craftsmanship and creative design process, I recognized the uniqueness and beauty of these exceptional furnishings.

Creativity runs through my blood, so my affinity with beautiful handmade products is absolutely natural for me.

Monique Stamp, Ocean rug by O&A London and Riviere Rugs

O&A: The company Riviere is famous for its unique process of rugs’ production. Could you please, tell us about the process? Reveal some of your secrets?

MS: The Riviere craft story begins in the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal, where over the centuries production techniques have hardly changed. Each process is still carried out entirely by hand, no machinery is involved. Handcrafted with the finest natural materials such as pure silk and Tibetan wool, the latter of which is prized for its unique high level of Lanolin.  Hand sheared from sheep living at high altitudes in the Himalayas, where the cold rough conditions give their coat unique waxy texture. The Lanolin acts as a natural stain guard making the most resilient natural fibres perfect for rug making. Our dye masters are specialised experts and achieve an incredible level of accurate colour matching by eye.

A life-size graph is created for each rug to depict the colour and placement of each knot. The graph is like a mapping system, for our weavers to follow knot by knot.

Nepal workshop

O&A: Monique, your company has artisanal workshops in Nepal’s Kathmandu Valley and Varanasi and Jaipur in India. How do you solve ecological issues?

MS: In a world increasingly dominated by synthetic materials and virtual reality, we choose natural materials such as wool sourced from the sheep reared in the Himalayas. Wool is one of the eco-friendliest fibres out there. It’s 100% sustainable and 100% renewable, with minimal environmental impact throughout its production process. Always exploring new materials with a low impact on the environment, we’ve recently introduced Tencel silk. Tencel has gained a reputation for the environmentally responsible closed-loop production process, which transforms wood pulp into cellulosic fibres with high resource efficiency and low ecological impact. The water and by products used to produce the fibres are recycled up to 99%.

Riviere chooses only natural materials such as wool and silk

O&A: Could you, please, tell me about the most complicated / interesting / unusual rug created by Riviere for your clients?

MS: The most complex design to date has to be Ocean from O&A London Caledonia collection.  It is quite simply the most breathtaking design we’ve produced and taken the best part of a year to perfect it.

The Design process required high levels of skill and patience. Our challenge to perfect the translation of Anna’s original hand sketches and photographic inspirations meant intense level of details had to be introduced to effectively master the portrayal of the Oceans fluidity whilst defining its movement. Almost 20 colours are required to create the gradient background and speckled movement of the trails of receding waves on wet sands. Each pixel or square had to be colourised accurately to produce the fluidity of colours within the pattern. This was a huge task that required hundreds and hundreds of man-hours.

“Ocean Blush” Design, 20 colours are required to create the gradient background

O&A: How did you meet with Anna Agapova and Oleg Klodt?

MS: I met Anna Agapova & Oleg Klodt at the International trade show Decorex 10 years ago. They were impressed with the level of craftsmanship, the quality of materials and designs; we soon started to collaborate to produce rugs for their Interior Design projects worldwide. However, our relationship with Anna and Oleg led us to partner for the very first time with a design studio to create a collaborative collection of rug designs.[

Decorex International 2020

O&A: How interesting and challenging was it to work with Anna and Oleg for you?

MS: I have found working with Anna and Oleg incredibly impressive, particularly during the development of CALEDONIA. Both designers shared their visions and perspectives: Oleg with his strong sense of clean fine sharp detailing and scale in line with his architectural background. Anna brings her sensibility and influence towards the textures and colours.  Many elements are carefully considered such as the scale of patterns, materials best suited to enhance the designs, yarn dying techniques and the finishing techniques to create varying textures, pile heights and three-dimensional effect.

It is fascinating to learn how they design their projects. The partnership has allowed us to develop design ideas and to learn from each other. The only challenges I could say is to exceed their expectations, to produce designs that truly embody the vision for each piece.

Presentation of CALEDONIA rug collection at FOCUS 2019, Design Centre Chelsea Harbour

O&A: Do you find this partnership successful? Do you have any plans for the new collaborative projects with O&A London?

MS: Absolutely yes, I have found the partnership successful. CALEDONIA collection is such joy to bring to fruition. The collection has generated phenomenal reviews from designers and their clients. And yes, naturally we’ve discussed plans to collaborate to create a new collection.

O&A: Riviere is participating during the program of Focus/20 at London Design Festival in 5 days already. It is the first big offline event after the quarantine, despite the new hybrid format. What are you expecting from this Festival?

MS: We expect to see generously enriched content for the first big offline event post lockdown. With so many design events having been cancelled this year we expect to see lots of product launches, new and visually stimulating designs unveiled. Exhibitions, interior design workshops, discovery tours and guest pop-ups.

Riviere showroom is ready to welcome FOCUS and LDF 2020 guests

O&A: You have included the rug OCEAN from CALEDONIA collection for the Focus/20. Why?

MS: Our focus at this event is highlighting sustainable design, inspired by the artistry of nature: during lockdown we have appreciated the benefits of connecting with nature more than ever. The idea of incorporating ‘biophilic design’ into our décor layering natural elements, textures and designs inspired by nature is crucial for good physical and mental health. Ocean is truly a design that evokes a sense of wellbeing, the Ocean itself is known to energise and bring a meditative state of calm to humans. This coupled with the fact it is handcrafted with natural renewable raw materials.

Besides we’d like to highlight our campaign ‘Save the ocean’ we’ve pledge to give 10% from every Ocean rug sold to ‘4Ocean’ Foundation dedicated to removing plastic rubbish from the ocean as well as saving and preserving marine life.

Every OCEAN rug sold makes the Ocean cleaner

O&A: What are you dreaming about today?

MS: I dream about sailing around the incredible island of the West Indies and diving the coral reefs. Second, I dream about beginning a new artwork for my home. Third, I cannot stop thinking of how to perfect the next new design collection.

Drop by Riviere showroom between the 14th-18th September for a glass of sparkling and discover the latest installation presenting stunning new sustainable rugs, inspired by the artistry of nature.

Riviere showroom, 46 Lots Road, London, SW10 0QF