The quickest way to get design inspiration? Go to the source. We’re visiting the creative headquarters of Brynn Olson Design Group in downtown Chicago. It’s here that Brynn and her team make design magic happen. “The office was designed to feel inviting and bright, sophisticated and edgy—the ideal environment for creativity and ideating,” the designer explains. “With no-nonsense bones punctuated with hints of luxurious fabrics and textures, it’s both highly professional and yet soft around the edges. A little bit business and a little bit edgy romance.”
She tells us more.
Tell us about your studio. How did you find it? What do you love most about the neighborhood?
Our Studio is located in a historical warehouse in downtown Chicago right on the border of area coined Goose Island. I spent an entire year searching for our perfect next home and funny enough this was the first space I saw in my search. The space was completely raw and marketed as two units instead of one but upon walking into the shell of a space, I was so mesmerized by the soaring 9-foot windows all in a row I knew keeping the space as a single unit was an absolute must. Our previous office space was ground level and opportunity for natural light was slim, so this space felt like a slice of heaven as I’m a lover of “light and bright.” While the neighborhood is sparce in walkable coffee shops, restaurants and curb appeal because of its location, it is perfectly placed. We can zip over to the Merchandise Mart or most city clients in 10 minutes or be on the expressway in just 2 minutes to head out to our burb clients. It’s incredibly convenient and we’re just a few minutes in all directions to pick up that morning joe or an afternoon lunch break.
You recently refurbished the space. What were the top changes made?
As mentioned, the entire space was a complete shell, so we had to do everything – all the way down to putting up drywall, running HVAC, lighting…everything! While it was a huge job it was a perfect opportunity to space plan the entire office to fit our needs to an absolute T with few restrictions beyond the shape to work within. I was able to carve out open desk space for the team with a reception area, two private offices – one for me and another for our business operations manager, a large storage closet, coat closet, administrative area to hide away printer and office supplies, a “hang out” space to take a break during the day, a comprehensive and organized library doubling as our conference room to meet with clients and a stand-out kitchen in the heart of the office complete with 16 foot long island and outfitted with coffee station, wine fridge and Bertazzoni appliances to allow us to provide comforts of home for our employees and visitors. Because it was such a large endeavor, we planned out the construction over three phases starting with the first of getting in all the necessities in place to move in such as walls, HVAC, and lighting. Second phase was the build out of the kitchen and the third phase was the custom build out of our library planned perfectly for every category and vendor we use
What’s your favorite space in the studio?
The crown jewel of the office is really the kitchen which we worked with so many of our favorite vendors – two of which we’ve traveled overseas to visit their factories – to outfit the space to our needs. For the cabinetry we worked Armazem, the only US rep for the Brazilian cabinetry company, Bontempo. We were able to visit the factory and meet the family behind the craft in Sao Marcos, Brazil. The backsplash and enormous island countertops are made from my favorite Transceramica porcelain slabs, and we chose real marble for our perimeter countertops from our local resource T + M Supply from a slab of Gris de Savoie. We wanted to be sure to include both so our clients can see how each performs in real time. For appliances we knew we wanted to partner with Bertazzoni to place their sleek Professional series in the space after traveling to Guastalla, Italy to tour their factory and meet the Bertazzoni family still running the business after 6 generations. We selected the Professional series 30-inch refrigerator and 18″ panel ready dishwasher for its clean integration into the millwork and opted for their 30″ Professional Convection Steam Oven in lieu of a microwave for more versatility of in-office heating and cooking (and it’s much healthier too!). We’ve always been a huge fan of Waterworks’ Henry series and incorporated their One Hole Gooseneck Kitchen Faucet and side spray in unlacquered brass. The cherry on top was custom designing a two-toned cabinet pull from Al Bar Wilmette featuring polished nickel hexagonal backplates and elongated pull with a hint of unlacquered brass details to show off our love for mixing metals. Every detail thoughtfully curated for function and aesthetics.
What is a “typical day” like at the studio?
I wish we could say there is a typical day at the studio! Every day is vastly different and when we schedule out our days hour to hour, priorities are constantly changing as is the nature of our deadlines with so many moving parts and pieces. We argue that 20% of the time we’re designing and the remaining 80% we’re truly project managing and problem solving for our projects. You can plan to spend an entire day in the office prepping for a design meeting only to end up off site at a client home working on a last-minute deadline that cropped up due to a myriad of reasons. We always say be prepared to change course daily!
While there’s no “typical” you can always count on any day you’ll find us prepping for and/or presenting a client meeting in our library, vendors visiting to show us their latest lines sitting round the kitchen island, creative direction meetings in my office with my teams and always with caffeine in hand! We always say if you’re passing by your always welcome to pop in for a quick espresso or latte (our Office Manager makes a mean one!) from our coffee station to refuel and keep going! That’s exactly what I always envisioned for the space – A light, bright and happy “home away from home” for our employees, vendors, friends, and family to enjoy. The cornerstone saying at BODG is “How you shape your space will shape your day” and that ethos had to be alive and well in our Studio to illustrate the immense power of design has on the human condition. It’s what fuels our passion for why we do what we do!