For this Designer Diaries interview we spoke with Larissa Miloradovich, Founder & Designer of Milola Design
What is your earliest memory of design? When did you first know that you wanted to become a wallpaper designer?
From a young age I have loved to draw, paint and create. As a grandchild of Russian emigrés I grew up in Paris, Brussels, London and was lucky to be exposed to beautiful homes in these cities filled with interesting artefacts and beautiful if different interiors. This experience honed my appetite and interest in what makes a room comfortable, beautiful, uplifting or striking – all the moods an interior environment can create. I think this combination was the source of my passion for creating designs that add beauty to a home.
Can you tell us about your journey to becoming a wallpaper designer? Did this start from prior experience as an Interior Designer?
My journey into design was not a conventional one. I studied journalism at university, and my first job was in Russia organising exhibitions. However I had a constant yearning for a creative outlet. After I married, I moved back to London and worked for a short while as an interior designer. Following the birth of my fourth child I decided to take the plunge and follow my passion into the world of design.
Where do you find the inspiration for your designs? What would you say are the main influences on your work?
Growing up, I have always been surrounded by antique Russian artwork, which has been my inspiration. It gives me a huge thrill to rework these pieces and inject them with new life by incorporating them into a contemporary design for wallpaper. I then moved on to working with other antique artwork, such as old photographs, textiles, and artefacts, and love seeing how I can create new “art” from the old. It's my way of giving something from the past a new lease of life, and through wallpaper creating an atmosphere that hopefully conjures up beauty and elegance – and essentially brings more joy into a home.
Image Above: Larissa at a brocante searching for inspiring prints.
Where is the most surprising place that you’ve found inspiration for your designs?
I find inspiration literally everywhere. My first source of inspiration is where I live in Germany. I am so lucky to be living in a little spot of paradise that changes from one season to the next, surrounded by deer and other wildlife. I also love visiting and rummaging in antique shops in European cities, especially Brussels and Paris, for hidden gems. But I have, surprisingly enough, also found inspiration from the ceiling in the doctor’s waiting room!
What’s your creative process? Take us through the development of a design from idea conception to the final product.
I have been collecting copperplates and vintage textiles since I can remember so I have a large assortment of artefacts which I can work with or that inspire me. I come up with ideas of how to use these, or new designs I want to research at random times, so I try to write them down in a notebook.
During Covid I also found a wealth of inspiration and artwork to work with from all over the world which was really exciting. I usually have about 5 different designs that I want to make brewing in my head at any one time. Once I set aside time to design - I will sometimes have been thinking about that idea for 2 years, then it's just a case of seeing if what I see in my mind's eye will work in regards to colour, balance and harmony.
I try to work in 2-3 week blocks, and I mainly work in photoshop using either old photos, elements from copperplates or elements from antique textiles. Sometimes it's a doddle, sometimes it is really tricky to get it just right, but the result is always so exciting without fail. When that first sample roll of wallpaper arrives, it's like Christmas every time.
Image above: Chinoiserie Mykonos Blue wallpaper design
What types of materials and production processes do you prefer to use and why?
My material is really the artwork I have collected in antique markets, brocantes or been given from my parents. I then use photoshop to thread elements of these into a new design thinking mainly how the colours and forms work together and what mood they evoke. I find the psychology of colour and design fascinating and I’m very aware that whatever I produce will have a direct effect on the feel of a room. My designs get printed on non woven wallpaper which is perfect for sustainability, and it gives me the freedom to continue designing with no wastage. I have so many designs I want to work on, so with the digital method, I know that as long as I stagger my ideas - each one will have its turn at some point.
What is something that most people don’t understand or appreciate about wallpaper design that you wish they did?
I often get suggestions from people about what I should also use my designs for. Why don't you do homeware textiles, why don't you do lamps, why don't you do pyjamas? It obviously comes from a very good place, but it makes me think they have absolutely no clue how much work goes into the process of just doing the one product. For me, I love designing wallpaper. It feels like my canvas. I also have 4 kids and oodles of animals, so no pyjamas or lampshades for now!
Image above: Indienne Grande Cream Pink wallpaper design
What advice would you give to someone who wants to experiment with adding more colour and pattern to their interiors with wallpaper but is scared of making the wrong choice?
You won't know until you try! You don't need to upholster the sofa or wallpaper the whole hallway right away, but you can buy a funky cushion or wallpaper the downstairs loo with a burst . . . then see if you need more of that in your life, and you probably will realise that you do!
Is there a particular design in your collection that’s your favourite and if so, why?
Tricky question. I think different designs create different moods, and as wallpaper is so enveloping, it can really set the tone, so it depends what mood I'm in. At a push I would say the Indienne because it is romantic and bohemian and totally uplifting. But a close second would be Russian Costumes, as it stands for my Russian heritage and is based on copperplates I received from my mother when I was young.
Image above: Russian Costumes Cream wallpaper design
How has the wallpaper industry evolved since you became a part of it and what do you see and hope for the future of it?
I am really pleased that I print to order, as there is no wastage of wallpaper. In regards to the last couple of years, although they were turned upside down by covid, it's been wonderful to see people taking a renewed and vigorous interest in their homes, feeling more emblazoned to try something different and determined to create an atmosphere that they love and is beautiful. This has been an upside and wonderful to witness.