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Celebrity Designer Candice Olson Talks Textiles

The HGTV star gives us the scoop on her new collection for Kravet.

By Rebecca L. Rhoades

Interior designer Candice Olson relaxes in a Park Avenue home she designed. The deep blue wallcovering, with its delicate floral print, is part of her collection for Kravet, as are the fabrics used on the pillows and furnishings.

She may hail from the snow-covered Great White North, but interior designer Candice Olson has been influencing the style of homes in every climate since she first appeared on TV screens in the early 2000s. As the host of HGTV’s wildly popular “Divine Design” and, later, “Candice Tells All,” her knack for creating classic and sophisticated yet accessible spaces—as well as her trademark sense of humor—garnered a loyal following and made her one of America’s most sought-after design professionals. The New York Times even proclaimed her as “the one to watch.”

With a signature style that fuses traditional form, scale and proportion with the simplistic beauty of modern design, Olson has taken her aesthetic from the small screen to a collection of home fashions, ranging from furniture to fabrics, wallcoverings to accessories, and everything in between.

We recently sat down with Olson during her visit to Kravet Inc. in the Scottsdale Design District to discuss her new products for the company and gain insight into her creative process.

Phoenix Home & Garden: Tell us about your collaboration with Kravet.

Candice Olson: My relationship with Kravet has spanned more than a decade, and our work together seems to be getting more and more creative with every project. We’re currently hard at work on my next fabric collection, but new to Kravet is a curated compilation of wallcoverings. The driving force behind these unique designs is the fact that cool modern styles love to be tempered with the warmth of nature. For example, you’ll find beautiful natural materials, such as grass cloth, married with bold contemporary patterns, executed with state-of-the-art modern-day techniques.

PHG: You’re known for a signature look. How do your designs for Kravet fit into that aesthetic?

Olson: The Candice Olson collection of fabrics for Kravet features patterns rooted in tradition—a concept that’s important in whatever I’m designing. There’s a recognition factor with the familiar, and that creates comfort in a space. But what makes my patterns fresh and modern is how they’re interpreted. Lines are pared down and simplified; not fussy. Scale is often big, bold and dramatic yet rendered in nature-inspired colors. These quiet palettes are what keep the strong patterns very accessible and livable for today’s interiors.

Muted hues inspired by nature and simple, sophisticated patterns are hallmarks of Olson’s fabric collection, as seen on a grouping of comfortable throw pillows.

PHG: How do these elements work in Southwest homes?

Olson: The fabrics and wallcoverings have been carefully orchestrated and designed to help bring warmth and comfort to cool, contemporary spaces, or to modernize traditional elements within the home, creating looks that are at once fresh yet familiar, timeless and on-trend. It’s a look that’s appealing in Arizona’s classic midcentury and Pueblo-style homes as well as the sleek modern builds.

PHG: You once said that fabrics are the soul of a room. What did you mean by that?

Olson: I often use textiles as the jumping-off point to anchor and inspire an entire design or feeling. They are essential elements for creating environments that are both visually and texturally beautiful. Fabrics are a powerful unifying element; they’re the peacemaker of the entire space. They bring harmony to all the seemingly disparate, contradictory voices that make up a truly unique, eclectic and captivating room.

PHG: What is the most overlooked element in design?

Olson: Lighting. When designing a space, I pay careful attention to how it affects each and every surface it touches, including fabrics. I envision each room as a stage that comes to life with lighting. Main character pieces become stars with the appropriate spotlights; textured wall surfaces are emphasized by light raking across them; and illumination tells the sheen, shimmer and surface detailing story of fabrics like no other design element can.

PHG: Are there any trends in today’s design world that influence your work?

Olson: I’ve been paying an incredible amount of attention to the wellness movement, or what I call “living well.” At its very core is nature. Numerous studies link our connection to nature’s beauty—its form, patterns and palettes—with benefits to both our physical and emotional well-being. In this increasingly hectic and digital world, we crave the respite and rejuvenation that only nature can provide. Speaking personally, it is simply my luxury.

I continue to develop collections using approaches that are nurtured by nature. My pieces are designed to explore, create and harness those natural elements outside that make us feel good on the inside. I’m hesitant to brand this as a trend as that conjures up a fleeting here-today/gone-tomorrow attitude. Let’s call “living well” a powerful lifestyle movement—a “nontrend” that is here to stay.

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