Spotlight On: Brynn Olson
Built on a love for creativity and a desire for visionary design planned with precision, the Brynn Olson Design Group (BODG) is comprised of talent from differing creative backgrounds who all found themselves drawn to the art of the interior. Based in Chicago and serving clients nationwide, the BODG team takes pride in bespoke design curated specifically for each individual client.
Trained as an artist from childhood, Brynn began her design career creating large-scale indoor and outdoor painted murals for commercial spaces and residences. After attending Vanderbilt University and pursuing an academic-oriented career, her love for art and design re-ignited years later and she joined Nate Berkus Associates (NBA) in 2008. She furthered her education in Interior Design at Harrington College of Design while working full-time with the NBA family and managed and designed projects for commercial and private high-end residential clients and celebrities featured on/in The Nate Berkus Show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Elle Decor Magazine, CS Interiors Magazine, and Chicago Home + Garden Magazine. She also assisted with development and rendering of original room designs for major publications and TV programs including Chicago Tribune, The Today Show, and Family Circle Magazine. Her experience in the design process, project management and client relationships lead to the desire to open her own firm in 2012 under the belief that every environment should boast a timeless foundation infused with an edge that reflects the essence of each client. Brynn’s credence, “How you shape your space will shape your day,™” is the cornerstone to which each project is approached. The power of a well designed interior is not only an immediate aesthetic transformation but also an incredible impact on the individual who lives, works or interacts with that space.
MRG: You began your career as a painter. When did you first realize you wanted to be an interior designer, and how did you make that transition?
BO: It's a running joke that I "tripped and fell" into interior design but the truth is that when I reflect back on every life path I've chosen to present day all signs point to here and now. My mother was my first art teacher, so I was constantly creative as soon as I could hold a crayon in my hand. I pursued art intently up through college and opportunities of executing large scale murals for interior spaces presented themselves and I accepted. This lead to me working directly with interior designers and witnessing, first hand, the affect altering a space can have on an individual and family unit.
It really wasn't until I moved to Chicago a decade ago, though, that I found myself heading to flea markets and scouring vintage shops at every free moment to furnish my Lincoln Park brownstone that really gave way to that light bulb moment. When I ruminate back to my childhood in the South, it's incredibly apparent the heavy cultural influence it had on me. Entertaining is second nature to Southerners and their vessel in which they can share these experiences is their home. Therefore, as a Southern artist I began to view the home as canvas ready to be filled with beautiful forms that function on my journey into this career.
Even though it took a big regional move to discover this ultimate path, interior design as my vocation has become personally meaningful as I recently lost my grandmother everyone lovingly dubbed as my "twin." She was a spirited and determined woman who grew up in Chicago during the Great Depression with very little means, but a staunch Italian spirit. Into her adulthood she became an interior designer running her own business in the city and its as though I'm bringing a part of my heritage full circle today. So perhaps, it could be argued that design is in my blood...
MRG: What are your favorite design trends you see for 2017, and beyond?
BO: While we tread lightly with the term "trend" having just returned from Market this year I can confidently report back on a few, fun recurring design patterns for 2017 that we're very excited about. A crop of new businesses focusing on South African goods that are sourced responsibly were very present this year and we especially love the lighting made from horns and beautifully woven baskets. The use of strong gem-like geometric forms in furniture design is still thriving which is one of our favorites as we like to juxtapose that feature next to round and more soothing pieces. Finally, the prevalence of taking abstract art off the canvas and onto other mediums such as fabrics and even furniture and accessories has been made possible through technology and is continuing to explode. While our favorite kind of art is on canvas, we're really loving some of the new textiles using this artistic approach to create additional areas of interest in our designs with pillows that double as art.
MRG: From where do you draw your inspiration?
BO: Inspiration is literally everywhere and I'm constantly pulling from all facets of life from my international travels to shelter magazines to even sitting in a local restaurant admiring the details of the interior architecture. On a personal level I am greatly inspired by my roots of Southern design and inherently fascinated by all things Art Deco. From a team standpoint, I am constantly preaching that we're only as good as our resources and one of the most important resources we have as designers is our problem solving eye - spatially and aesthetically. In order to keep that eye fine-tuned and sharp, it's incredibly important that we're sourcing inspiration daily. Due to the power of Pinterest, we've been able to utilize the internet as an essential tool to find new inspirations to catalogue our "studies" along the way.
MRG: How do you chose artwork for your projects?
BO: Art is such a personal item for our clients and we always start the process with understanding client tastes first and foremost. The second most important driving factor is budget. We love to educate, help and guide our clients on how to pursue and collect an art collection no matter where they are in the collecting game. We love to dispel the myth that appreciating and collecting art is only for the incredibly wealthy or for a home with soaring wall space to display acquisitions. We feel so strongly that art can "make or break" a room that we incorporate art in our design presentations to guide our schemes. So, the result is keeping artwork in mind right from the start.
MRG: If you had to be trapped in one decade of design, which would you chose and why?
BO: As mentioned, I have a natural attraction to (almost) all things Deco from fashion and decor to jewelry and architecture. Take me back to the roaring 20s and I'd soak it all in...
MRG: As a designer who frequents Matthew Rachman Gallery, is there any piece of artwork in our gallery that you’re really into right now?
BO: We're big fans of Linc Thelen's abstracts and we've had our eye on his "Lyrical Journey" diptych for sometime. This set would be an incredible asset to a space with it's rich yet soothing colors and textures. If it were up to us we'd find the perfect focal wall to house this pair. Perhaps, in an entry over a console with pair of beautiful X-base stools underneath or even split up and each hanging above nightstand in a Master bedroom for an unexpected display of color and layered sophistication.