Designer and curator Duro Olowu has a knack for juxtaposition—not just when it comes to impeccable collage work and pattern play (see: his internationally renowned womenswear label and critically acclaimed contemporary art exhibitions), but also at planning the perfect dinner party guest list. “I love a table filled with people from diverse backgrounds and of varied nationalities, with different ideas and a mutual respect,” he tells us.
His new collection of invitations for Paperless Post is bold and evocative, with layered designs that pay homage to the connections that great parties enable. It’s a true testimony to his interpretation of cosmopolitan taste, meaningful gatherings, and beauty in the world.
“I hope hosts feel these invitations are representative of the kind of welcoming, open-minded, and loving atmosphere they want to create for their guests,” says Olowu. “It’s about extravagance of design, color, and love.”
Read on for more of our conversation with Duro Olowu, and explore his Paperless Post collection here.
What drew you to create a collection of invitations for Paperless Post?
I’m always interested in doing something that is an extension of my work as a designer and curator. Whether in fashion or design, I try to mix things up in an interesting and modern way that is representative of the world.
What were some of your influences while working on the collection?
I’m driven by a cosmopolitan existence and a very international perspective that is natural, unforced, and reflective of the world, as well as the notion of a new kind of entertaining: appreciating and connecting with people, and reentering an age of real conversation at gatherings that’s sort of disappeared with social media.
Visually, the collection is very much about exploring graphic design and layout, creating striking and timeless compositions for each invitation and corresponding envelope.
“Wild Hearts” by Duro Olowu for Paperless Post.
What’s your favorite element of the collection?
I want people to look at the invitation and get excited about the possibilities that lie ahead, not just the type of party they’re being invited to.
I love how these designs jump off the screen. They have the look and feel of real paper, which is often difficult to achieve, even though they’re digital.
Do you have any advice for hosts who are nervous about pattern mixing?
For anyone who feels unsure about mixing patterns themselves, we’ve already done it for them. The combinations are done in a usual and bold yet harmonious way. It’s a whole mélange of things that says something about how interesting the party that follows will be. And the unexpected envelopes also add an extra element of surprise.
“Layered” by Duro Olowu for Paperless Post.
As a creative, how do you like to stay inspired?
By not being jaded, not taking things for granted, and by recognizing the possibilities of what one can do with what one sees.
Many of the patterns and prints in this collection are new interpretations of those in my previous womenswear collections, some of which were inspired by the work of artists from Alma Thomas to Edouard Vuillard.
Tell us a little about your dream dinner party: Who’s there and what’s the vibe?
I would love a table filled with people from diverse backgrounds and of varied nationalities, with different ideas and a mutual respect.
Great things happen at wonderful lunches or dinner parties. People get to connect on various important social and political issues that influence and change how we see things. People sometimes fall in love or realize that they are not alone in the world.
I also think every party needs an interesting mix of music that doesn’t intrude on the conversation and delicious food.
What advice would you give a host who’s sending out your invitations for a dinner party?
Avoid trying to completely replicate the invitation design in the room. But of course adding one’s own little layered touches from it, is a nice addition. The real trick is to make your guests curious about what to expect, and once they are there, to make time feel irrelevant.
Feeling inspired to host your own party? You can browse the entire Duro Olowu collection of invitations now. Don’t forget to play around with the brand-new envelopes and liners. The final designs may delight and surprise you (and your guests!).