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No boundaries


June 2013

Multifaceted is how Nicholas Konzal describes his design abilities, which include working with organic materials (floral design), textiles (interior design) and manmade materials (furniture design). "Good designers can work in different mediums," says the Wauwatosa designer.

Immediately after graduating from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design six years ago with a degree in interior design (he also attended MATCís design school), he started Nicholas Karl Design. Working with his partner, Julio Bryand, and Bryandís sister, Veronica, the trio has created the large-scale floral designs for the Milwaukee Art Museumís Art in Bloom for the last two years. (Konzal won first place in 2010 for his arrangement of Fritz Winterís "Black Action" painting.) "Studying design at different schools helped me become more well-rounded," Konzal says.

Konzal designed the billiards room in the 2012 Wisconsin Breast Cancer Showhouse and the dining room in the 2013 showhouse. (See a preview on page 80.) "Itís great to look at a space and visualize what the end product will be and watch it transform into that," he says.

M: Tell me about this yearís Art in Bloom display.

NK: This design took us 300 hours because we built 30 containers specially for the show. We wanted people to feel like they were walking underneath a canopy of gorgeous arrangements. We flew in the banana leaves from Costa Rica, and the elephant ears from Hawaii.

M: How do floral design and interior design relate to each other?

NK: In floral design you can mix product yet have it look classic and simple. Itís the same way in interior design. Blending similar colors with just a slight variation on color makes it interesting. For this yearís showhouse dining room, all the pieces are interesting on their own, but they are not overbearing, they donít scream out at you. And some things pop out as accents, like the orange Dermond Peterson napkins.

M: What is your design philosophy?

NK: I want things to look classic, have classic proportions and be balanced. Less is more, but what is there should stand on its own and be beautiful.

M: You design furniture, too?

NK: My brother, Peter, is a remodeler and also very good at building things. For last yearís showhouse I wanted a table that was the right height for playing chess by the fireplace. I gave him the idea and the dimensions and he built it. My furniture designs are a little more modern with clean lines. I like to use natural raw materials, marble and metal.

M: What is the biggest design mistake people make?

NK: Space is the hardest thing for people to grasp. People should follow the roomís architecture to create a conversation area and place furniture around that. There should be a flow to the space.

M: Anything else we should know about you?

NK: Iím related to sculptor Joseph Konzal. His bust of Mark Twain from his American Series was in the room I designed for last yearís Wisconsin Breast Cancer Showhouse. I guess Marilyn Monroe owned the Abraham Lincoln bust.


This story ran in the June 2013 issue of: