For Shannon Skoug, the Owner and Design Principal of Modernfolk Design, midcentury interior design comes naturally.
“Modernfolk is a full-service Interior Design and Home Staging Studio that gives nod to Northwest Modern and Midcentury Modern design. We specialize in creating curated spaces through the use of modern and vintage elements,” says Shannon.
After completing her Interior Design degree, Shannon worked in “various sectors of the architecture and design field. This ranged all the way from a Herman Miller dealer/showroom to a very large architecture firm that focused on commercial and institutional design and then on boutique residential firms.”
Despite loving aspects of each of these roles, none were a perfect fit.
“Two and a half years ago, my amazing daughter June was born. I took about 18 months off to stay home with her, which really allowed me to do some soul-searching,” says Shannon. Missing the design field and still wanting to find her niche needed to somehow balance with Shannon’s desire to be a working mom.
Over drinks late last December, her best friend Lauren mentioned the idea of Shannon starting her own company—one that would meld her love of architecture and real estate with interior design. “Four days later (literally), I filed the papers with the state of Oregon, called on my business attorney to draft a services agreement, and Modernfolk was officially born,” says Shannon. “I owe a lot to Lauren for being able to see that I was ready to take on this challenge and for lovingly pushing me to follow a lifelong dream of owning a successful company.”
Q&A with Shannon of Modernfolk Design
Why are you drawn to Midcentury design?
Ever since my early days in design school, I have been drawn to the beauty of mid mod design for its clean lines and organic curves. The architecture is unparalleled and I am fascinated with the angular details, asymmetrical profiles, and simplicity of materials used. I especially love the marrying of indoor and outdoor living spaces that became so prominent during this era of design. I feel that is an element that has largely gotten lost in modern day architecture and would love to see more of that incorporated into future residential and commercial design.
Tell us about your design process. How do you approach projects and where do you turn to for inspiration?
At the start of every project there is always that panic moment where I think, “Oh, shit… What have I done? Can I really do this?” Typically, I will head out on a run to clear my mind and it’s in those moments that I’ll have some clarity over the design and the project.
Most of my inspiration and design concepts come from my surroundings. I love looking to nature to find elements of design that I can turn into details within my work. I have found that when I overthink or overanalyze the design for a specific project, I don’t produce my best work. To me, there is such beauty and calmness in simplicity. If I’m feeling a creative block, I will step back and look for ways to simplify—to get back to the basics of the architecture and find ways to incorporate a sense of serenity into the final result.
Which project stands out as a favorite?
Marisa Swenson’s home was one of my favorite projects I’ve ever worked on. Finding a balance between honoring the architecture of her home but also adding personality and flair was an exciting challenge. On top of that, understanding that spaces photograph much differently than how they appear in person really pushed me scale back and choose only the pieces that would speak the most for the aesthetic we were going for.
How to you strike a balance of simplicity and personality?
My general rule of thumb, no matter what aesthetic I’m designing for, is 70/30. Seventy percent of the elements I bring to the design, whether that be color, furnishings, materials, or decor will be true to the style I’m going for. The other 30% will bring in other eras or styles of design that blend well with the desired aesthetic. I have found that if you lean too heavily into any given era of design, the final product will come out feeling more like a museum and less like an inviting, livable space.
Do you have a motto or favorite quote that guides your business / designs?
One of my favorite quotes about design that I have ever come across is from Marcel Breuer. “A few simple objects are enough, when these are good, multi-use and capable of variation. We avoid thus the slavish pouring of our needs into countless commodities that complicate our daily lives instead of simplifying them and making them easier.”
And of course, the infamous Mies van der Rohe “Less is more.” I find myself repeating that numerous times a day.
Reproductions: yay or nay?
My gut reaction is nay, however, I know budget constraints don’t always allow for authentic pieces. This is a battle I have had with myself for years and I would say the verdict is still out. I have some very prized authentic pieces in my own home and have to say that they were well worth the wait (and savings) to be able to own a prominent piece of design history.
Where do you source home furnishings and accents?
Vintage stores! In Portland, we are so lucky to have some really great mid mod vintage stores that carry higher-end pieces. There also a couple of companies in particular that specialize in the revival of vintage furniture. I have great working relationships with the owners and they are always willing to lend a hand in sourcing if I am looking for a hard-to-find or rare piece.
In your opinion, what’s one piece of furniture or type of accent that every midcentury home needs to have?
I’m a sucker for an Eames rocker—so much so that I have one tattooed on my arm.
Also, COLOR. There’s a lot of despondency and sadness in the world these days, so let’s try to brighten it with a little color here and there.
Shannon’s Midcentury Interior Design Advice
- Keep it simple.
- Let the architecture breathe and speak for itself.
- Mix it up! Don’t lean too heavily into the mid mod aesthetic or you’ll end up with a house that looks more like a museum.
Modernfolk Design full-service interior design studio offers home styling, photoshoot styling and home staging for real estate.
Caption: Styling by Shannon Skoug of Modernfolk Design
Photo credit: Courtesy of Shannon Skoug