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Check Out Natalie Officer’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Natalie Officer.

Hi Natalie, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
Self-taught isn’t something we throw around, as it would be untrue. It is heavy some days, and other days brilliantly liberating. But, if we opened the doors to our studio and ushered all of the teachers in, it would be a room filled with talented craftspeople, metal artists, dreamers, innovators, and cheerleaders.

As a first-generation college student from a little gravel road outside of the only liberal spot in southern Indiana, I created vision boards of far-off lands and fashion photos from around the world. That hand-welded mailbox my father created was a keyhole. As my first decade of life closed, my first magazine subscriptions landed in the Christmas stocking and a world of discovery unfolded.

Always rooted in aesthetics and beauty, I collected. My parents built a magical home over those next ten years, by hand, with no mortgage and a band of beautiful humans contributing. To which I sat the first row. Eventually, a college degree in Fashion Marketing and Business from Indiana University landed me a “career” out of state in the cold north of Minneapolis first, and then Chicago.

Working with great retailers like Marshall Fields, propelling small fashion lines and artists through work and community.

Then with designer Sigrid Olsen, my love for textiles and spaces grew. Then there was an intersection. Or, some would call it a STOP sign. Liz Claiborne gobbled up Sigrid Olsen and she retired to host yoga retreats at far-off locations, and Federated splashed its creative flare across every small market from New York to LA, making for a homogeneous retail/fashion scene that felt as uncomfortable as an ill-fitting shoe. Spoiled by the experiences and people, I turned my blinker and hit the exit ramp.

A dreamer and catalyst of grand proportion asked me to come on board a very risky boat, and eventually, I married him. We completed many gut renovations on three-story greystones in Lincoln Square, just north of Wrigleyville in Chicago. Spent our nights watching videos and yes, DVD tutorials on how to do what we were already physically and financially in the middle of. This was indeed my lane, and I was so happy to return to it.

Powertools, walls falling down, and light pouring in. Smitten and ready to move swiftly in this direction. In 2011, we pushed the doors of Natalie O Design open in Louisville, Kentucky, and have rarely imagined doing anything else. The most important river that runs through this town, is one of the artists, wordsmiths, metal artists, upholsterers, and dreamers.

They are genuinely the answer to “How we got where we are today”. Nested in an old commercial building in Germantown, we are surrounded by every trade and the best kind of dreamer energy. My partner Julie joined the team after we completed and filled her renovated home with at least eight custom furniture creations and installations, and the light poured in. We were fast friends and her creativity is an asset for Natalie O Design.

Nothing feels more right, professionally than coming here to begin each day. We inspire one another, real ourselves in, and spitball every detail. The fashion is still serious, the scents, plants, and sunlight are all the intentional curation of our brand and beliefs about what space should be, for ourselves and others.

We are here because we have been trusted, an incredible feeling.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Smooth is relative. I would say matte is the best finish to describe us. There have been high shining glossy moments, and devastating blows, but we settle back to a patina that is both soothing and approachable. Talented people have worked in our studio, and many have moved on to their own work and in different locations.

While sometimes hard to release and not be bruised by it, it has always been our intention to inspire others, motivate them and encourage them to think beyond what they think they are capable of. Sometimes, we are really good at it. Having lost a partner and dear friend was certainly a heavy blow, and one we slowly crawled back from.

Our giving up would have infuriated her and the ground we gained together would have been lost. We have been lucky to work on large commercial properties and small intimate spaces. Coworking spaces, large banks, and even community crosshairs of social justice initiatives.

We have lost big jobs at the right time and gained small jobs at the wrong time and it all seems to even out. Rigidity has never served us well. Fluidity, reflection, and learning are the oars we keep in the water.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
Boutique Interior Design firm, rooted in artistry and detail.

We customize furniture, hand select sculpture, and art, and handcraft the soft finishes with local trade professionals and never get too rooted in the “new”. We listen deeply and distinguish ourselves by customizing each design to best reflect the client.

We stay away from trends and lean into lasting and authentic work. We are most proud that we are really hitting our stride, and that is a good place to be.

Natalie does customized tile mosaics and we can share images of that work. It is a hand-placed effort and something that runs through the last two decades of work.

Can you talk to us a bit about happiness and what makes you happy?
Execution of vision.

It is a tremendous gift to have a “vision”, and everyone has that gift. It is blindly stubborn who tap into fully and are able to make a life of it. Sharing the vision on paper or in presentation is great fun, and there are days of the process involved in that effort.

But, bringing it to reality is the real journey. Those “happy endings” to a story that starts in the dream phase, that is the sauce!

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Anna May Photography and Luke Metzinger Photography

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