A moment with Nodi Founder Olivia Smith
August 23, 2018
You don’t have to spend long with Nodi Founder Olivia Smith to realize Nodi and Olivia are both one and the same, the brand and product a direct response to the various experiences of her life woven together. The rugs themselves tell a story of the countries that influenced them and the mark these places left on Olivia during her time living abroad. ‘Nodi and I aren’t really separate things – so in some ways Nodi is the result of a whole lot of life experiences.’
This week on our Notebook we wanted to share a glimpse into Olivia’s story, which is a large part Nodi's story, what inspires Olivia and how she rests, connects and plays on her Nodi Rugs at home. We hope you are inspired as we are.
What was it about rugs that captured your attention and caused a spark within?
‘I studied textile design in Milan and then was an intern for a year and completed a series of internships all focused on textiles and fabric. I loved them but always found fabrics so flat and it was really irregular texture that I felt passionate about. Post Milan I moved to Sydney was working for a furniture company selling rugs really which really connected me to rugs as a different form of textile, I was draw to the raw, irregular finish of what lay beneath my feet. This was then followed moving to India where I really began to learn the intricacies of rug making and slowly Nodi was formed.’
From the age of 20 Olivia lived overseas for 7 years. Her story begins in Milan, It was here in Italy that Olivia began making hand knotted cotton necklaces, the curiosity and journey of the ‘knot’ which would be woven into all that is Nodi. Olivia discovered the imperfect beauty that comes with a handmade craft and a fascination that came with the irregular forms created through twisting and knotting natural fibers. ‘Nodi’ translates from the Italian word ‘Knot’ tying into Olivia’s time in Italy.
What inspires you?
‘My biggest inspirations are nature and travel. To me they’re both essentials to me feeling happy and balanced, and as a result the inspiration follows. I love being stimulated and challenged in new countries, exposed to different ways of life and experiencing new thinking.’
What are you loving at the moment?
Escaping the city to Waiheke Island and spending time by the sea on the weekends.
You really connect to Materiality; how do natural materials inspire you?
‘For me – natural makes sense, it belongs. I can’t connect with or understand why you’d want to bring synthetic and more plastic into your own life when it can be avoided and never belonged in this world until man bought it into existience. Natural Materials feel authentic, real and like they belong close to humans – we’re natural beings, I don’t view us as separate from nature and as a result am instinctively drawn towards natural materials.’
How do handmade products inspire you?
Handmade products inspire me through their unique irregular qualities. Again, to me they feel authentic and have meaning beyond something that is mass produced. When you really connect with what goes into making a product by hand the appreciation deepens’.
Olivia's Journey to India
After working in Sydney Olivia knew she needed to move to India - not to begin a business but to follow a burning passion and yearning to learn more about textiles and rugs. She resided there for 6 months before moving home to begin the brand.
‘I find India a really difficult country to put into words – it’s a place of intense contrast, the most beautiful and heinous sights all at once.’ Living there really helped me to connect with the essence of India and its people. The experience was full of challenge, colour, intense overwhelming smells and sights.’
How does India Inspire you?
‘It inspires me through its madness, explosive colour, passion and attitude that anything is possible. . if you are patient.’
Tell us about the Artisans?
‘The artisans we work with must be some of the most meticulous, patient people I’ve ever come across, their attention to detail is really mind blowing - a lot of them are also farmers too, they weave part of the year when they are not harvesting their crops. I have a deep admiration and respect for the people who out so much love and care into making our rugs.'
How did India help you design your first rug range?
‘The first range is very colourful and bold – to me it is always a great reminder of just how much your surroundings have an impact on you. I was in Jaipur when I designed the first range and was really struck and taken back by the Hawa Mahal (Winds Palace) – so much so the first range was called Jaipur Doors and was inspired by the intricate doors I came across in this palace.’
Is there a particular weave/ rug from the Nodi Collection you feel most connected to from your journey?
‘The Looped Jute – it was the first rug in the range and remains a favourite and remains a best seller. This rug taught me about simplicity and letting the fiber and weave direct the form of the rug rather than heavily designing the rug - discovering this was a real turning point in the business.’
At Home with Olivia
We stepped inside Olivia’s home to see how rugs have transformed her living spaces.
Which Nodi Rugs do you have at your home?
If you walk into Olivia’s lounge you’ll often find a five-year-old playing Lego, a border collie rolling around and Olivia sitting on the rug with a glass of wine in hand.
‘Our house has a lot of concrete in it and requires a lot of layering and softening, the rugs have transformed the living spaces and made them inviting, warm and cosy. A place people actually want to hang out in and relax. Before the rugs we didn’t spend time in the lounge just hanging out, it didn’t draw you in.’
What was the process for you in finding the right rug for your home? How did you choose from the Nodi Collection?
I love texture – so the rugs I selected were all heavily textured, which works so well on concrete floors. I was looking for warmth and irregular texture to soften the hardness of the concrete.’
What would we find you eating?
‘I LOVE pasta and Italian food. I love the simplicity of the ingredients. I’m happy with a bowl of spaghetti with fresh tomatoes, garlic, chilli, good quality olive oil and fresh basil.’
At Nodi we feel so lucky that we are able to work alongside Olivia on a day to day basis. She is a constant source of inspiration to us and pushes us daily to be the best we can.
You will often find Olivia in the Nodi showroom 3/1 Faraday Street, Parnell. Olivia is generous with her knowledge, sharing the Nodi story and offering a helping hand to assist you in finding the right rug to transform your home. We promise you will leave feeling inspired and calm with a new appreciation for the handmade craft and the humble rug.