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Best Wardrobes in Britain: Abisola Omole

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Then you’ve turned your business more into studio hire and event production. Tell me about that!

We started doing more event production, and naturally started doing more set design. My love of interior design just came from the sheer amount of events we had to style and create from scratch in these blank-canvas locations. I got really, really into furniture and started sourcing more and more pieces, and learning about different designers, so as I developed each space it became more and more refined and I felt like I was really finding my design voice. It got to a point where we didn’t want to rent furniture for our events anymore and started to purchase them instead. Eventually we got a space in Leyton to be our storage and office, but I decided to lay it out in situ and then people started asking me about renting it out. One of H&M’s brands did a shoot and private event there, and so we transitioned it in 2019 into a full blown studio that anyone, personal or commercial, could hire. It wasn’t planned, but I’ve always wanted to have a hotel one day, so this seemed like a logical and natural step in the right direction. I decided to brand it Studio Arva and over time have been doing private interiors projects for people’s houses and offices and have opened a second studio, located in Islington.

I’ve always known that I belittled my achievements, but one of the things I learnt from the Black Lives Matter movement is that, it’s okay to say ‘this is amazing and I am successful and doing well’. So I decided around July 2020 to officially add interior designer to my list of professions. I was conscious that I didn’t want to come across as proud, but I had to state facts at this point, or else no one was going to know all that I did. I’ve previously completed huge projects and you’d never even know about them. It wasn’t on purpose, my team and I were just busy and never saw the value in shouting about our work, but I now realise it was potentially holding us back from the even bigger projects, because people didn’t know what we were capable of. Just seeing the opportunities that have come my way over the past few months, has really ensured that I now understand the value and importance of sharing what I do with the world.

I’m trying to own more of what I do and the skills I have, with my new found confidence. I remember we’d have meetings a few years ago and I’d say ‘Hi, I’m Abi, I work at The Apartment.’ And we’d all sit around and the clients would be like ‘so who is in charge?’ And I’d respond saying, ‘Oh hey, that’s me!’ I’d always introduce myself as working at The Apartment, rather than running it. Owning my position isn’t something that came naturally to me, especially as I didn’t want to come across as arrogant but in order to truly grow, that’s exactly what needed to happen.

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