Joe Olson first delved into the world of interior design when one of his high school teachers encouraged him to explore the history behind his family’s pre-Civil War era home in Fairfield, Connecticut. Weeks of research inspired him to rip up the carpets and strip the walls of centuries’ worth of wallpaper to return his family’s 18th Century home to all its antebellum glory. The experience sparked a passion for interior design that led him to study at Pratt University where he received a master’s degree. After seventeen years working at some of the top firms in New York City, Joe moved to Nantucket and recently started his own design business, Joseph Olson Interiors, where he seamlessly marries the foundations of 21st century design with a modern aesthetic that he believes will continue to attract residents and visitors for generations.
N MAGAZINE: What first brought you to Nantucket?
JOE OLSON: I’ve been on Nantucket for 3 ½ years. BPC Architecture + Interior Design brought me on to assist them with the interiors side of their business, but now I’ve branched out to start my own design business, Joseph Olson Interiors.
N MAGAZINE: How would you describe Nantucket’s design style?
JOE OLSON: “In Transition.” Designers are beginning to introduce more modern ideas and a lighter approach in both furnishings and architecture. It’s really quite refreshing to see this occurring gradually but unilaterally!
N MAGAZINE: Describe your design aesthetic in 5 words.
JOE OLSON: Modern, Warm, Classic, Approachable, Fearless.
N MAGAZINE: What is your favorite space to design and why?
JOE OLSON: I love kitchens and dining spaces as they can present the most challenge in finding the balance of a client’s personality and the practicality of the space. These spaces also allow for me to be truly creative both architecturally and decoratively.
N MAGAZINE: What is the #1 tip you would give to a client just starting to think about a home re-design?
JOE OLSON: Think about HOW you live. A home has to reflect how you go about each day.
N MAGAZINE: Do you approach design on Nantucket differently than you would elsewhere?
JOE OLSON: Absolutely. Homeowners want to get a sense that they are “away” from the moment they walk in the door. Less layers, lighter (and brighter) colors and durable materials are the starting points.
N MAGAZINE: Do you have any “rules” when designing a space?
JOE OLSON: Know the client. Other than that, rules only limit the possibilities!
N MAGAZINE: From where and what do you pull inspiration?
JOE OLSON: I start my day with a cup of coffee while meandering my way through numerous blogs like “The Style Files” and “Remodelista.” Travel is definitely a strong base of inspiration for me, and a few annual New York shopping trips (my old stomping grounds) are an absolute must. But my move to the island has generated an entirely new pull for me: experiencing summer outdoors – running, swimming, biking, kayaking and paddle boarding – it’s truly like no other place in the world!
N MAGAZINE: What do you foresee as the top design trends for 2016?
JOE OLSON: The ever-increasing use of sustainable materials, as well as sourcing one-of-a-kind pieces from artisans and craftspeople. And being on Nantucket, whether it’s nature itself or product that is outdoor specific, I also see us more frequently bringing the outdoors in.
N MAGAZINE: If you were to make a time capsule with the 5 items that most represent Nantucket to you, what would they be?
JOE OLSON: A slice of Pi’s Rustica Pizza, a bouquet from Flowers on Chestnut, a jar full of sand from Steps, a Cake Batter sundae from Juice Bar, and, of course, my lucky charm Mala from Clay Twombly.
Visit Joseph Olson Interiors for his portfolio and contact information.