Studio Brunstrum
Black Lives Matter is not a black people’s movement – Me Too is not a women’s movement – Pride is not a gay people’s movement – it’s all humanity’s movement – a movement for being accepted as humans by humans.
At Studio Brunstrum, we created our newsletters and communique to celebrate the beauty, history and culture that defines our craft. Our goal has been to shatter the notion that interior design is an industry that only focuses on beauty and aesthetics, but rather is an industry that acts as a conduit for the dialogue that has brought it to life. We have always said that the spaces we create should reflect the stories of those who live there. Listening is the key principle that guides our firm – and as of late is the most important tool we have in our arsenal.

Our aim is to make design a language that all people understand. It would be remiss of us not to acknowledge that this ideal is rooted in our privilege. We have work to do to make this ideal come to life and it starts with us. It starts with listening. We pledge to dig deeper to understand the roots of what has shaped our present so that we can be part of the change to create a better future. We pledge to amplify voices that are different than our own and empathize with the stories that are being told. We pledge to continue to learn and to use our resources to share with others. We pledge to be better so that freedom, safety and equality are languages all people understand first.

This month’s newsletter is dedicated to the Black Lives Matter movement – it features Black artists, collaborators, and firms in our design community that we continue to be inspired by. We hope it inspires you as we continue to fight for change.
Susan, Kelsey and Patti
The Studio Brunstrum Team
Reality Check
Magical Realism.
Magical realism was borne on the backs of social media, video games and virtual reality devices. A technique which combines realistic and naturalistic narrative with elements of fantasy or dream, magical realism has become intertwined with influencer culture and Gen Z marketing. Native Chicagoan Elise Swopes, a self-taught photographer and graphic designer, has made a career from her artistic process, working with brands from Nike to the Chicago Cubs to Apple to design campaigns geared towards youth culture. Favoring cityscapes (usually of Chicago) combined with graphic editing and often featuring her signature giraffe or snippets of Niagara Falls, Swopes has built a brand depicting the ethereal beauty of escapism and the magic of the unknown. With a loyal following on Instagram and a lifestyle blog ranging from beauty to mental health, Swopes also focuses on giving back to her community and sharing her talents with others through Youtube tutorials and prints whose proceeds go to various charities. Her #SwopesSoDope brand embodies every aspect of her lifestyle. We love the juxtaposition between the grit of the city and the airy, serene quality of the naturalistic elements that give her work a dreamlike feel. Try incorporating magical realism in your home through art (her prints are available for purchase or commission here) – perfect for a kid’s bedroom, home office, or any creative space!
Repeat After Me
Large Scale Repeating Patterns.
Pattern, texture and color are the first elements we discuss and select when creating schematics for a home; whether you like small-scale or large-scale pattern, colorful or muted, an abundance or just a splash, pattern plays an important part in your interiors. For Lisa Hunt, pattern (particularly repetitive pattern) has defined her career and aesthetic. She uses repetitive pattern to explore the spatial and the meditative ethos, drawing inspiration from Art Deco and indigenous textiles. Comprised of graphic shapes, symbols and her take on typographic elements, her work usually features the use of gold leaf for a touch of historical adornment. Her minimalistic screen prints lend a moody glamour to any space (perfect as a statement piece in a bathroom, entryway or bedroom), while her wallpaper and textile collaboration with Weitzner Designs highlight the subtle simplicity of a recurring motif, complete with a deco-royal feel.
Make a Statement
Statement Seating. 
We’ve always been suckers for statement seating, especially when it comes with a culturally rich backstory. Jomo Tariku is an Ethopian American artist and industrial designer who specializes in modern, African-themed furniture, with a passion for the statement seat. Inspired by the eclectic souvenirs, furniture and art his father collected throughout his travels, Jomo works to create pieces that synthesize his own experience with diversity and culture. His pieces are exceedingly unique and play with shape and dimension, rooted and inspired by different regions of Africa. With wood as his go-to element, Jomo’s pieces lend a natural feel and blend well with other textures and colors, while the shapes create standout pieces perfect for functional or aesthetic seating. 
Rooted in mindfulness and meditation, local Chicago artist Kenyatta Forbes (founder of Urban Macrame Fibers) uses traditional hand techniques (weaving, knotting, sewing) to create stunning macramé art. Known as a fiber artist, Forbes focuses on the process of her pieces rather than the outcome, using her craft as a medium to understand the world and cultures around her. From wall murals, to art installations, to greenery and plant holders, Forbes’s work lends elements of texture and feelings of Bohemian serenity to a space. We love the overt chunkiness of her knotting and weaving techniques, coupled with the natural fibers unique to macramé; her hanging planters are the perfect way to bring the outdoors in.
Image via Lorna Gross Interior Design, Design Trust Board of Directors
At Studio Brunstrum, we believe that kitchens are the heart of the home. The kitchen is a spot for comings and goings and one for congregating; it’s the perfect gathering space for late night snack conversations and early morning family breakfasts. The kitchen embodies the spirit of togetherness, fusing cultures, styles and traditions through food and family time. Notably, the kitchen also is the home of the kitchen table – the hub for family meals. When my kids were young, I always made sure to prioritize family dinners; we ate together almost every night and it was the point in which I would learn about everyone’s days and what was going on in their worlds. The kitchen table was privy to almost every important conversation my family had – from teaching my children about the stock market to discussing the importance of good manners and good hygiene. I firmly believe that kitchen tables should be safe spaces and act as an invitation to open the door for conversation. In today’s climate, these conversations, not only with our kids and our families but with our communities, are more important than ever. It’s through continued learning and conversation that our society will continue to grow and teach the next generation to be better than ours. For this reason, always make sure your kitchen chairs are comfortable and your kitchen table is functional and inviting – a good kitchen table can help the conversation continue.  
Chicago based artist Dwight White aims to take his viewers on a visceral journey that explores art beyond the visual realm; simply put, he wants people to feel his art instead of just seeing it. Focused on capturing truth, White’s background in sociology and human behavior define the narrative of his body of work. He aims to empower his audience, often centering his work around his own heritage as a young black male. With versatility in both scale and style, White’s signature style is undoubtedly bold, often using primary colors in oil and acrylics to contrast the human subjects of his work. White’s portfolio is displayed throughout the city in various locales from galleries to local stores. Lately, White has been using his work to channel the emotions of the Black Lives Matter movement and protests across the country. The street-like quality of his pieces lends a raw and powerful nature to the stories his work is inspired by. We love the bold, hard strokes and use of bright colors that capture the rapt attention of his audience.

Coined as one of America’s greatest living artists, Kerry James Marshall is a prominent figure in the national contemporary art scene. His body of work explores the African American experience, particularly in relation to art history, spanning mediums of painting and sculpture. Best known for his large scale paintings that engage allegory and symbolism, Marshall’s work is seeped in black history and culture and aims to address the marginalization of Black subjects in the visual realm. A native of Birmingham, Alabama, Marshall was also influenced by his time in south central Los Angeles prior to moving to Chicago to teach at the School of Art and Design and University of Illinois at Chicago. Marshall’s work has been shown throughout the world, with frequent exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. A recipient of the MacArthur Foundation’s genius grant, there’s no doubt that Marshall’s work will be remembered throughout time.  
Our team discovered the line of textiles at Hubbard Design Group last year and have since sourced their fabrics for a sectional, ottoman, and armchair for various projects, quickly making them one of our go-tos when compiling fabric schematics. Their contract-grade textiles are great for residential clients that want a quality performance material in high-traffic areas (think: pets, kids, spills) without compromising on hand-feel. Their array of textiles generally features a mix of classic patterns and solid colors with an abundance of texture – we’re enamored with their selection of boucle! The Hubbard Design Group’s line of bespoke furniture is as timeless as their textiles, featuring a selection of tables, seating, casegoods and lighting. Their exceptional and responsive customer service makes us excited to continue to partner with them on future projects.  

It’s no secret we love wallpaper, particularly in unexpected spaces (ceiling, anyone?). Mitchell Black, a Chicago-based wallpaper atelier, is known for its boldly colored and patterned wallpaper and mural offerings; we’re obsessed with both their Stalking Tiger and Shagreen prints! While we were going to feature one of the patterns of their Spring Collection, we were exploring their website and discovered their line of MB Home Easy Wallpaper Tiles. Maintaining their signature style, Mitchell Black has recreated the wallpaper space by transitioning their textiles into an easy, at-home project that can be changed or swapped at whim. The tiles feature peel-and-stick technology, making them the perfect solution for kid’s bedrooms and rented spaces or for those that want to test the waters with bold pattern and color, but don’t want to make a permanent commitment. Kelsey loved the tiles so much, she bought some for her bedroom and kitchen – stay tuned for the installation video!  

How to be an Anti-Racist. Kelsey is halfway through Ibram X. Kendi’s How to be an Anti-Racist. This New York Times Best Seller explores the concept of moving beyond the awareness of racism and pushes the audience to explore the concept of what an Anti-Racist America could look like. Reshaping the conversation of racism in our society, the book navigates public policy, ethics, history, law, and science and challenges the deeply held notions and concepts that weave the fabric of our nation. The book also aims to move beyond awareness and education, focusing on the next steps our country needs to take to form a just and equal society. A must read for anyone asking the question “what’s next?”.

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow sheds light on the blatant racism rampant within United States criminal justice system, exploring how systematic injustices and slavery were not wiped out with the Civil Rights Movement, but simply re-designed to appear constitutional. Her book explores the targeted racism of the War on Drugs and the decimation of black societies throughout the U.S., with staggering statistics on mass incarceration and the detrimental effects it has on communities of color beyond prison. The New York Times Bestseller has been dubbed the “secular bible of a new social movement”, urging readers to place mass incarceration at the forefront of justice reform.  
The books we’ve highlighted are only a few of a vast number we plan to read as we continue to listen and educate ourselves about the racial injustices in our society. For other recommendations check out this list from USA Today.  
4th of July
Our team will be working remotely the week of 6/29-7/3 as we spend time with our families.
Weekly Reverie
The Reverie is back! We received such wonderful feedback from our Daily Reverie that we wanted to find a way to continue engaging with our community – introducing the Weekly Reverie! In addition to our monthly newsletter, we will be sending out 4 Weekly Reveries (with the same format and topics you enjoyed from our Dailies) that expand on our topic of the month. Stay tuned – we’ll be starting in July.
Additional Resources
The artists and companies we’ve featured in this month’s Reverie are by no means a comprehensive list of inspirations within our design community. Click HERE to access Architectural Digest’s list highlighting other wonderful black-owned businesses in the home sector.  
Industry Insight
House Beautiful recently published "39 Creatives Talk Being Black in the Design Industry". Read it HERE for some insight into the problems plaguing designers in our community and the steps we need to take as a whole to change. 
Black Interior Designers Network Fundraising Campaign
Looking for another way to support Black owned businesses and designers? Click HERE to read about the Black Interior Designers Network to get involved and donate.
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