It is with great pleasure that we introduce the latest Guest Curator to grace the Well + Wonder blog...Gen Sohr! Gen, a woman of enviable style who likely needs no introduction, a veteran of both retail and interior design, has cultivated a one-of-a-kind online shopping experience curating daily fashion and décor finds for color-loving, pattern-obsessed women like herself. In 2012, after a move to Nashville, Gen and her husband Benjamin founded Pencil and Paper Co. an interior design and lifestyle brand that has yielded partnerships, products, and collaborations from Southern Living to Anthropologie. Through the Instagram handle of the same name, @pencilandpaperco, is where we first discovered Gen’s work and it has been a source of design, color, and fashion inspiration ever since (a member of the Well + Wonder team was quite pleased to discover that her and Gen share the same taste in green-checked vans…spoiler alert...it was Connor). From double tapping her IG post and shopping her products online we’ve been long-time admirers of Gen, her business, and her brand. So, it should go without saying, but, we are simply thrilled to have Gen and her discerning eye comb through the Well + Wonder collection this morning - it’s been a treat to learn of Gen’s thoughts on art and our collection. See her current Well + Wonder picks below as well as read more about this fab lady in our rapid-fire Q&A, Introducing Guest Curator, Gen Sohr!
There’s just something about everyday objects, especially with an intriguing color combination. This would be perfect for a kids playroom, or adding a pop of whimsy to a gallery wall!
I’m really drawn to Christy King’s work, her still lives have such a comforting warmth about them. I love the subject matter, everyday objects that just evoke so much joy! Of course I adore the color palettes, and I can imagine each of them in a kitchen, making that space feel super special!
I always love how an abstract painting can bring a room together and help set the color palette for the space! This feels like the kind of vintage modern painting that I love to collect. I also adore the juxtaposition of a modern painting over a traditional piece of furniture or fireplace mantle!
This would just be darling in a nursery, and I’d love to see it in a poppy red colored frame!
Tell us about yourself.
I grew up in Miami, and my husband, Benjamin Sohr, grew up here in Nashville. We worked together for about 10 years in San Francisco and then decided we were ready for a different lifestyle — to be closer to family and have a fresh start. It was a wonderful time to get to Nashville before it got super crowded and busy. I almost feel like a local now! Nashville is a really welcoming community, and I found this great group of creatives. It has been a joy to be here and watch this city grow. There’s an incredible influx of people from all over, so we’re thrilled that we can be a part of that creative community that’s happening here
Why did you start your blog/brand/business?
It’s a bit of a happy accident. My background is in retail. My husband and I worked for Old Navy for many years; I focused on visual merchandising and marketing, and he did in-store design. When we got to Nashville, we started a little store, and I had a baby, which felt crazy. My husband and I were both commuting, working for big retailers, and eventually, it hit for both of us that we wanted to be based here.
We built a house in the 12South area, and people would knock on the door and ask us questions about it. That launched us into buying and renovating houses and doing design work. Ultimately my husband and I have broken the business into two divisions. (My husband leads a creative consulting agency that specializes in branding and product development). The Pencil and Paper Co. that you see now on the blog and Instagram is representative of the lifestyle and media brand that we have become today!
When and where do you get the biggest surge of inspiration?
Inspiration is everywhere. As a creative, it’s the lens through which you view everything that you do. Travel is such a great jumping-off point; there’s nothing more inspiring than getting out of your day to-day-space, seeing new things, exploring architecture, going to flea markets, and experiencing new people and how they live. To me, that’s exceptionally inspiring, so that’s one of my main motivators.
It is said to look for art that "makes your heart skip a beat." What aspects of art make your heart skip? the feeling that it evokes...
My philosophy around art is that your collection should remind you of wonderful experiences; try shopping while traveling, and every time you see it you’re reminded of that visual memory! A few of my favorite artists (and dear friends) are Kayce Hughes, Sarah Malone, and photographer Susan Johnson! It’s good to mix something that’s precious in with something that’s not so precious. Don’t forget about sculptural moments either! My kids’ drawings, my husband’s napkin doodles, they all find their way into spaces of our home. Play with scale, try oversized art in the hallway flanked by two sconces, or a stacked series of smaller pieces. Art over wallpaper is always interesting, it’s actually really good to break up and contrast the pattern! There are really no rules in my world...I love hanging art unexpectedly low, or just leaning it on a table or the floor.
The greatest color combination that ever existed?
I’ve always been drawn to bright primaries and complementary combinations - red and green together isn’t always for Christmas and I love using them all year round. If it resonates with you there are no mistakes!
What is currently on your nightstand? What are you reading?
Always a great stack of new design books...I’m currently inspired by Ashley Whitaker’s The Well Loved House, Christopher Spitzmiller’s A Year at Clove Brook Farm, Summer Thorton’s Wonderland: Adventures in Decorating and Ruthie Sommer’s A Newport Summer.
The key to making a house a home? What does a home need more of and less of?
First just ask, what brings you joy to live with? Your home is a representation of your personality and what brings you joy! If you’re curious (but a bit scared) about playing with more color, start with white walls then layer color into that. We’ve done that in many houses and it's such a great help if it’s hard to conceptualize which color a room needs at the beginning. A warm, beautiful, sun filled sort of white (not harsh or sterile!) is a wonderful blank canvas that over time you can bring wallpaper, drapes, and rugs into.
My style weaves into how I want to look at the world and what my lens is. I love color and pattern. I really try to come from an optimistic place, and I think surrounding yourself with color and pattern is such a mood-lifter. It makes you feel good to be surrounded by that. I’ve always loved vintage and collecting, and all of those things inform that aesthetic. But as with any creative, we’re always evolving and changing. I’m always drawn to new things, but my lens is always drawn to color and pattern.
The house is forever an evolution, things migrate around, moving in and out into different rooms. Invest in a base of things that you love, those are the foundation pieces, just like building a classically chic wardrobe!