Contemporary Design with Joanie Wyll from Joanie Wyll & Associates, Inc.

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Contemporary design is not only apparent in today’s interiors, but also plays a large part in our daily lives- from fashion to technology, contemporary design is ever present in today’s everyday life. Dating back to the mid-20th Century, Contemporary means with the time or modern, characteristic of the present. It can also be defined by the Museum of Modern Art as “well-made, beautiful, efficient, innovative and reflective of its time. This time is preoccupied with environmental concerns, global awareness, economy, durability, experimentation, technology, and simplicity. It is “of the moment” making it’s designs ever- changing, eclectic, low-key, and open.” Breaking away from traditional design, Contemporary design transforms into an open, minimalist approach. Not to be confused with modern design, contemporary is stylistically different, referring to the current period of design expression. One that is ever changing, whereas modern style describes a static (era-specific) design that breaks with those pre-industrial Revolution traditional styles. Although traditional design still remains as a popular design aesthetic, contemporary design has always captured the imagination allowing for a fluid, artistic, and innovative approach to design, and is uninhibited by the composition of conventional, traditional styling; providing an exhilarating contrast from traditional living. Contemporary is more fluid and tolerates a bit of rule breaking, often including an element of whimsy and surprise. mixing old with new, it has a strong emphasis on line and form, giving contemporary style it’s energy.

Key features of Contemporary Design:

  • Clean Lines and smooth surfaces
  • Emphasis of rectangular forms
  • Use of horizontal and vertical lines
  •  Light up the space- lighting is important because it is the key to illuminating the room’s design. Lighting is used as an artistic statement with clean lines and metallic finishes. is used as works of art in contemporary spacing, again keeping with the simple yet distinctive theme.
  • Use of Repetition- rhythm and cohesiveness provided by the repetition of various design elements
  • Use of Contrast- contrast elevates interest in a space by mixing different colors, qualities, and materials.
  • Use of texture and patterns- patterns and textures offset contemporary’s smooth, clean lines providing a sense of warmth to the space.
  • Bold or Soft Color Palette- either can be incorporated in a contemporary space
  • Focus of natural materials such as stone, wood, leather, teak, and even linen
  • Strong, geometric shapes
  • Extensive use of natural light
  • Overscale art
  • Open floor plans that embrace the outdoor space

Keeping with the contemporary aesthetic, we recently caught up with Joanie from Joanie Wyll Associates & Inc. to get her perspective on this design style. Wyll’s designs tend to embody contemporary elements, offering a perfect mix of unexpected and glamorous. Incorporating minimal adornments, clean lines, high-shine surfaces, and over-scaled natural stone used as a feature wall, as seen in her winning project at ASID’s Design Ovation Event, Joanie beautifully creates a contemporary space.

“This master bathroom is full of modern high contrast, luxe glossy finishes and crystal accents. She used the White Beauty marble to create a custom trough sink, that couldn’t be replicated even by an artist. She continued the use of the material behind the egg shaped floating bathtub creating a unique, statement piece.”

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Q. Congratulations on winning the Industry Partnered Collaboration Award at ASID’s Design Ovation Awards. We could not be more thrilled to be apart of such a beautiful project! Can you elaborate more on your inspiration behind the design?
A. Thank you so much! The design was really inspired by the White Beauty stone. We wanted to showcase it in a way that would bring out the drama of the stone.

Q. What attracted you to using our White Beauty stone in the project?
A. The client saw the White Beauty and fell in love with it. We did too. It’s unique and fit perfectly with our vision.

Q. What was your favorite part about the overall design outcome?
A. My heart still pounds each time I walk into this master bath. I love how each material plays off the others and combines to give a sense of grandeur.

Q. White Beauty is a very dramatic stone. What advice do you have for others that are interested in incorporating it into their overall design?
A. White Beauty begs to be the focal point in a space – it really becomes an art piece. It has a lot of movement, so it pairs well with simple, classic designs.

Q. We loved how you kept a consistent look in the space by incorporating the stone on the opposing wall. What advice do you have for others who are interested in incorporating stone as a piece of wall art?
A. We had an interesting time figuring out how to mount those two huge slabs to the wall. In the end we built a base to support the weight of the slabs and covered it in the same tile used on the walls and floor, so it gives the illusion that the stone is floating.

Q. What constitutes Contemporary Design? In your own words, how would you describe it?
A. Contemporary design can be very broad and is different from modern design. Contemporary emphasizes basic and simplified lines and shapes, but can be softer than modern. Spaces generally incorporate neutral elements with bold accent colors.

Q. Your design aesthetic tends to blend modern with other funky, fun elements. What attracts you to contemporary design?
A. I have always loved contemporary design. People did not understand my vision in design school, but now everything is going contemporary. I love the simplicity and versatility.

Q. What advice would you give to someone who is wanting to achieve a contemporary aesthetic?
A. Contemporary design requires every aspect of a space to be carefully considered. Achieving true simplicity is harder than it looks.

Q. How would you describe your design philosophy?
A. I like to take ownership of my projects. I tell my clients that their house is now my house too. I’m invested in the result; I won’t put anything in their house that I wouldn’t put in my own. I strive for a classic aesthetic in both traditional and contemporary designs; I want the project to look just as good 15 years from now as it does today.

Q. Are there any influential resources that inspire you? What are some of the things that influence your design?
A. I’m inspired by fashion, travel, architecture; there is design in everything so everything can be an inspiration.