with Susan Brunstrum

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First impressions on this theme?

The first word that comes to mind is stark (meaning minimalist). I see lots of linear and geometric forms and there is a masculine vibe shining through.   

While I like to add industrial elements within a space, I prefer to juxtapose with curves, texture and comfortable elements. That mix is indicative in the A. Rudin chairs!

(Left to Right) Powell and Bonnell Snow Table, deAurora; Bosch Industrial-Style Gas & Dual Fuel Ranges, Gaggenau, Thermador, Bosch Experience & Design Center; Stinson Chair, A. Rudin

Looking at Industrial Chic, who lives in this environment?

It feels like an urban environment that has been pared down. Looking at the Waterworks faucet, for example, I could see this in a modern bar, a bachelor’s master bathroom or, in a different finish, perhaps a powder room for a trend-setting couple. I also see this grouping translating into a second home. For instance, looking at the Carlisle Wide Plank Floors image, the openness of the room is generous and feels appropriate for entertaining, which is a given in a second home! As for the deAurora table, I find it to be extremely sophisticated. I like the organic-ness of the legs. It is intricate in its simplicity.

(Left to Right) Thayer Coggin Blade Sectional, CAI Designs; BT45 CG Kitchen, Bauteam German Kitchen Tailors; Barnwood Blue Webwall Full or Thin Stone Veneer, Buechel Stone

In thinking about the roots of where Industrial Chic came, where do you envision this theme evolving?

Industrial Chic can be cold on its own; beautiful to look at but not necessarily comfortable to live with. Adding warmth through color, mixed metals, texture and organic elements will make it more livable and functional for more people.  

Tell us a little about your story.

This is our 19th year in business – and it is my second act. In all honesty, interior design just happened to me and was an unexpected path. My background and first act were in marketing and advertising. I worked corporately, then for an ad agency and then owned a marketing communications firm with a partner.

Due to personal lifestyle change, I realized a professional change was also needed.  Yet, using my creative talents and project management skills within a team environment was a must. I started out as a one-woman firm based out of my house, where my first client came through my daughter’s best friend who simply liked the work I had done in my own home. I remember so vividly walking into that first project (she and her husband owned a dental practice with kelly green walls) to only advise on paint colors. The project grew and so did my client list. Three years later, I moved to my own studio and built a team. The years that have followed have been nothing short of a wonderful and wild ride – complete with clients and projects near and far, a move both personally and professionally to the city, and a major rebrand. After 19 years, I’d still say the majority of our business comes from referrals – I love that. What started out consulting for a friend, still feels so personal and relationship driven nearly two decades later.

(Left to Right) Tranquil Collection, Carlisle Wide Plank Floors; Cesar’s Intarsio System, DOM Interiors; The Hudson Collection, Christopher Peacock; Bond, Waterworks

What do you love about what you do?

I love getting to know our clients – who they are and how they live in their home. The health and wellness of those that live there, family and loved ones, always come first.  

Are you stocking away insights on where 2021 will take us?

As with all things, the monotony of a day-to-day routine often causes us to overlook what areas of our lives need change – our homes are no different. When you have lived in your home for a while, you have a tendency not to see the nuances and details. Now that we’ve been in our homes more than ever, we are beginning to see strengths and weaknesses – or, where our homes support us, or not. Support means different things to different people. Ask yourself, does your home nourish you? Is it your safe haven? Is it a get-away to relax and unwind? Is it where you do your best thinking? Does it inspire you to be creative and strategic? Or is it the place that you can be your authentic self?

About Susan:Studio Brunstrum is the evolution of Susan’s original interior design firm, Sweet Peas Design. What started as a one-woman, home-based firm, has evolved into a full-service design studio located in Chicago’s River North neighborhood. Susan is a member and past board member of the Design Trust Ltd., a New York-based think tank of interior designer CEO’s.

Susan Brunstrum

Studio Brunstrum