By Jill Brooke
Candice Olson is a modern-day glam girl. As a designer, her soft color-palette provides calm while her mastery of mixing patterns creates excitement. She truly is a master of her craft.
As a bonus, her wallpaper, fabric and furniture designs have prices that don’t feel like a kick in the gut. That was her choice when this Canadian born designer started her firm in 1994. “She always cared more about the consumer than being in the top magazines,” says Deborah McKinnahan, her director of product development.
Top designers who grace the covers of major shelter magazines charge their clients fortunes for their expertise. Many of these designers also charge a percentage based on the fabrics and wallpapers they choose. Olson’s creations are every bit as spectacular as those by the top names, just not as expensive. The risk for Olson was that top designers might not use her creations because of their lower price point and thus she wouldn’t have the media exposure.
But she trusted her inner voice. Her mojo. Her talent.
Lucky us. I have three of her wallpapers in my New York City apartment and am grateful every day. The patterns are invigorating and yet soothing, an incredible feat. Even her look books soothe with names like Breathless, Journey, Tranquil, Modern Artisan and Dream On.
Olson is not only one of the top selling designers at York Wallcoverings and Kravet, but also a TV personality. Her series “Divine Design” was launched on Canada’s W Network in 2001 and later found a following of 90 million homes when it moved to HGTV. Her current show is “Candice Tells All.” She has also written two books, including “Candice Olson: Kitchens & Bathrooms.”
What I like is that she uses traditional motifs and updates them. “Shapes become edited and pared down to their bare essence,” she says. “The final product holds the soul of the past but has been modernized.”
She is also a believer in the power of “quiet contrasts.”
“In my work it is the contrast of color, materials or surface details that provide the modern edge that my clients love,” she says. “Lighting and light reflection support the contrast. I love the way light hits a surface, so regardless of the product, I incorporate metallic materials for reflection.”
Design is in the details. “Designing those details is the best part of what I do.”
Of course, talent is also intuitive. Those metallic flourishes bring light into her designs which, in my bedroom, pushes forth her Jackson Pollock-like interpretations of flowers as though they are lilting waterfalls from heaven.
Olson says her York Wallcoverings Tranquil, inspired by nature, are collected from her travels but abstracted and softened with iridescent surfaces and amorphous shapes. They feel more like art than design.
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