After falling in love with the island on their countless holiday trips, design duo Laura Nathenson and Kate Starkey both made the decision to call Ibiza home, and haven’t looked back since making the change. After discovering their mutual passion for ethical, sustainable, and conscious furniture, it was inevitable to begin a brand together that presented responsible design without compromising on the designs themselves. Having just launched Olive Interiors Ibiza, we had the chance to catch up with Kate and Laura about their journey to the island, how Ibiza’s design scene is unlike anywhere else in the world and what we can expect to see shortly from Olive Interiors Ibiza.
How did your Ibicencan journey begin? What prompted you to call the island home?
Laura Nathenson, “My husband and I had been coming to Ibiza for many years and we both had a fallen in love with the island. We joint owned some land that needed developing which helped us to make the decision to move here in 2014 and start a new life with our young family, we never looked back! “
Kate Starkey, “Our stories are quite similar to many families who have moved permanently to Ibiza. Holidaying for many years here and finally giving in to the calling of paradise-island living! It’s the sunny afternoon playdates on the beach in November or the rolling plains and verges of Springtime wild flowers that reassure us of our decision to call Ibiza home.”
How did you and Laura come up with the concept of Olive Interiors Ibiza?
The synergy was there from the beginning – Laura and I had met socially and discussed our mutual desire to find furniture that was ethical, sustainable and conscious yet didn’t compromise on a design level. So when we worked together for Sabina Estates it was like we had been design partners for years. Our tastes are the same, our personal passions are similar (gardening and ceramics), our eco-living ethos is the same, even our design backgrounds are on similar paths. Our creative vibe was so in tune that when our contract came to an end we both felt an Interior Design Partnership was calling. With our joint belief in making the right choices for our planet’s health mixed with our love of good design, creating a brand that had those two things at its core was a natural process.
What is your background in interiors and design?
Well, our design journey is rather similar – we both spent 15+ years in London’s fashion industry. Laura gained a design certificate from the famous KLC School of Design later on whilst I qualified with my Interior Architecture & Design degree BA (Hons) at the start of my Design Life. As a partnership we draw on the whole world of design (whether that be the canvas, ceramics, technology, architecture, landscaping, furniture, fashion etc) to consolidate the aesthetic we have today. A successful Interior Designer has to cherry pick the best from each genre of design and put it together in a thoughtful way – because we’re creating the concept of an ideal lifestyle for our clients and that has to take influences from all of the world around us.
How do you think Ibiza’s design scene stands out from anywhere else in the world?
Ibiza’s influences are varied. You have the spiritual vibe which stems from the well-documented hippy influx in the sixties. The aesthetic is down-to-earth, simple living yet touched with colourful Eastern detailing. A set of Indian style cushions decorating a white-washed built-in sofa. A sparsely furnished bedroom with a bright throw on the bed. The formidable architect, Rolph Blakstad Snr, who arrived from Germany in 1956, set out his style which influences much of the architecture and interiors on the island today. He researched the old Ibicencan Fincas at great length and formulated a unique style of his own that honoured the traditional building methods yet included spaces for modern living. Rounded-off corners, built-in shelving (again rounded edges) and the island’s famous exposed Sabina wood ceilings are what he is known for. There are books and books on his findings but one can certainly see his influence on the island’s architectural style today. And then you have the slick, modern side with Mies van der Rohe inspired villas decked out in mid-century classics, shiny floors and not a rug out of line. The unique aspect of Ibiza means you are free to choose which style is yours. We don’t judge here.
Can you elaborate on your most recent project with Sabina Estates? What aesthetic did you aim to evoke in the final creation?
Laura and I were asked to join the design team at Sabina to furnish three show houses for the first phase. Our brief was to consider three different styles to work with the three architects who had been chosen for this phase – Estudio Vila 13, Romano Arquitectos and Blakstad Ibiza. We were briefed by its mastermind, Anton Bilton, as well as Head of Design Begoña Sebastian on potential client requirements and lifestyle. A relaxed family holiday vibe but incorporating a standard in line with clients’ luxury expectations. Unique, bespoke pieces incorporated with a variety of classic Ibicencan styles. We were certainly asked to champion local artisans which also avoided strain on the environmental impact of long-distant deliveries. We were very careful to choose suppliers who had sustainability and an environmental conscience at its centre.
Tell us more about your stance on sustainability and your eco design ethic as a brand.
We are all waking up (some quicker than others) to the affects consumerism is having on our planet. It is no longer acceptable to be unconscious in our buying decisions. As it stands at the moment most of our lifestyle choices deplete our planet’s natural resources in some way. We can’t change our way-of-life over night, but we can choose to have as little impact as we possibly can. And it is the choices within the home that Olive Interiors Ibiza hopes to influence. From beautifully crafted cushions made of recycled plastic bottles, to natural dyes in the making of the sofa fabric. From using waste-product mango wood chopping boards to local artisanal Ibicencan tiles that require no shipping. Certainly vintage furniture has its place as a reaction to the disposable nature of passed consumerism. Every object that we present to our clients has been meticulously quantified and researched. But we certainly don’t compromise on our strict design ethic. The good news is that the number of furniture and homeware brands that offer sustainability but also offer stunning designs is growing. Our aim is to design beautiful homes to live, breathe and relax in – that create happiness for our clients and for our planet.
How would you describe Olive Interiors Ibiza in one sentence?
Design that doesn’t cost our earth.
What can we expect to see from the brand in the near future? What exciting projects do you have in the pipeline?
After the quiet of the recent lockdown, life is moving again! We are excited to have been asked to put together Concept + Design for an eco-homeware store in Santa Eulalia and are helping an entrepreneurial couple to furnish their beautiful new 6 bedroom villa in the west of the island. We have no doubt that, as the world wakes up, demand for Conscious Casas will be as long-term as the furniture placed within them.