The Dynamic Design Guru
A cursory look at Kelly Forslund’s website easily inspires some new design ideas. How different would your own space feel with a cool candelabra that resembles tree branches? Is it time to buy some fun, new throw pillows? Forslund operates her own showroom at the Seattle Design Center with an enviable collection of furnishings, lighting, and textiles. Elegance and style present themselves in each detail of her model set-ups, where visitors discover new purveyors of unique home products. We spoke to Forslund about the Seattle design community, running her own business, and how she’s designed her own home.
What makes the Seattle design community unique?
Seattle has a unique style that we are known for. Wherever I travel, most people are aware of our transitional style that honors honest use of natural materials – I tend to think of it as understated elegance. Projects here almost always have a unique light situation to deal with (with so much water surrounding us, we must design window coverings and preserve views at the same time)! Our designers tend to know each other, and I get a sense that they really respect and support each other. As a community, we are a tight knit group. It’s always fun to see who knows who when we host events in our showroom.
Are there any newer lines that you’re really loving in particular right now? Why?
A tough question as all of our manufacturers design such great products, and since we specialize in high-end artisan lines, it’s very difficult to have a favorite. I will say that as a person who loves natural materials and honest use of materials, I am continually amazed by the work of Gregorius Pineo. Each piece goes through so many steps and artisans – they continue to surprise us each season with so many wonderful pieces, both furniture and lighting, that are truly unique. This last season they showcased a gorgeous chinoiserie lamp in a Mediterranean blue color. Suddenly, a very traditional piece looks modern and fresh. It’s absolutely stunning. I had the opportunity to spend a day at their blacksmith’s workroom this summer, which gave me a new appreciation for everything that is hand forged. They work so hard to perfect each piece! And, all by hand… this is true art.
Describe your path to opening your own business in 1995. What were the biggest challenges and rewards along the way?
I was so fortunate in 1995 to be able to start a small business with very little overhead. The biggest challenge was finding new products to represent that were not already shown in the Pacific Northwest. Our market is smaller, so to convince a manufacturer to invest in our area without knowing how much return they would get meant that we had to take a leap of faith together. Luckily, I still have many of the manufacturers I started out with—it has worked out well for all of us. And back then, we did not have the Internet, so you really had to work hard to give products any exposure. The Interior Design Community was (and continues to be) great about supporting local showrooms. With the downsizing of design centers, that’s more important than ever.
How have you designed your own home?
My husband and I recently moved to Magnolia and have spent the last year gutting and remodeling a 1951 house. It has great bones, and it’s been a process of removing walls and opening up the floor plan – we are fortunate to have a wonderful view of Puget Sound so everything has been done in a very understated manner. We’ve used a quiet color palette and natural materials and allowed as much natural light as possible to really showcase what Mother Nature has in store each day. We love to have our friends and family over, so creating spaces that easily function for small or large groups has been key.