Testimonies of Generations, Olssøn Barbieri
In Erika and Henrik’s home, each room has its own distinct voice. Having unearthed layer upon layer, stripping the walls and floors bare in places, their particularly personal home bears witness to the lives that have lived through this by now, 100 year old building.
Apart from the kitchen counter and the bathroom fixtures, almost nothing new has been bought ready made. In the kitchen, the walls have been stripped all the way down to the original panelling and most of the floorboards have been scraped by hand. The remnants of wallpaper and paint has been left behind in places as relics, and when they have painted walls or floors, the colours have been mixed based on fragments found during the stripping or ‘excavation’ process.
Erika Barbieri met Henrik Olssøn in Florence, where they both studied product design. Having grown up in this renaissance city, her sense of texture and patina is well developed, to put it mildly.
The hands-on work in this apartment is something of a constant “work in progress”, and Henrik is just as invested in the idea of bringing out the inherent beauty in rooms and objects that have seen years and years of usage, as Erika is. Just as they are both invested in Olssøn& Barbieri, their design office by day. Although, those who know them, are very well aware of them having work and after work, being all muddled up. They are always representing :). Also, it seems that they live and work with the same philosophy.
In a digital world we need something tangible, a graspable beauty, something that affirms us as sentient beings, says Erika, while running her hands over the rough walls.
And as long as you are doing it yourself, smiles Henrik, it doesn’t really matter if things take time, or you have a change of heart along the way. That too is just a part of the process.
Luckily the former residents of their home, have only added, rather than removed elements. The ceilings were lowered, drywall put up and floors were carpeted, but through Henrik and Erika’s excavation, the original details were revealed.
In the rooms facing the street, the colours are different, white and more transparent, almost fleeting. The floors, all of them scraped down by hand, move from raw wood to glossy white to dark brown. The walls in the kitchen, a room that looks in towards the courtyard, have been scraped down all the way through countless layers of paint, some of which still exist side by side. From the dining room with its prewar cafeteria feel and white flooring, one enters the living room where the deep brown floorboards tie the room together, giving it an atmosphere of calm and languor. Walking through the various rooms, it becomes apparent that all skirting boards and doors are painted a shiny bright white in stark contrast to all the other patinated surfaces.
-You are not always in the same mood, and with that in mind, the apartment accommodates many different zones depending on the tone of your voice in that very moment.
OLSSØNBARBIERI is a multi disciplinary design studio specializing in brand identity and packaging design with particular focus on wine/spirits, premium retail, culture and art industries. Founded with the intention of working independently and without compromises in regards to conceptual development and quality of execution, the company evolves by pursuing new standards of design through research and experimentation.
The company´s projects range from brand creation, visual identity, illustration and packaging design to brand design strategy and creative direction. Olssøn Barbieri was founded in 2005 and is based in Oslo.
WORDS AND PHOTOS: The Chromarty