August 19, 2022

Thoughtfully Considered: Fanny Olsthoorn

By Gillian Stevens
Thoughtfully Considered: Fanny Olsthoorn

I am excited to introduce this feature to you. It's a collaboration between two women who I have admired from afar for many years, and it feels really special to be able to connect with them through our shared love of design and photography.

Fanny Olsthoorn is a designer based in Amsterdam. I was initially drawn to Fanny because of her minimal, neutral aesthetic - take a look through her instagram and you will understand what I mean. Her use of neutral colours and classic shapes within her work are elements that I really identify with and make her stand out against the more trendy "minimalist" approach that has oversaturated the design world. 

Marieke Verdenius is a stylist and photographer with a lifestyle focus on interiors, portraits, food, and lifestyle. Her work is so soft and natural, it's easy to get lost in time looking through her portfolio. She also teaches workshops, which have been on my wish list to attend for many years. Her passion for what she does pours through her work, and it was a privilege to see my pieces seen through her eyes and lens. 

What does this season of life look like for you? Describe a typical day/week?

Currently I spend the first three days of my week focusing on work – usually I’m very productive as I know everything needs to happen within these days. The remaining days I’m together with  Ise, my 1-year-old daughter (and during the weekends obviously with my husband Lennart). It’s  about finding the right balance between work and family life. I really want to spend a lot of time  with my daughter, as this is most valuable to me. But the previous year, I realized that working  on inspiring projects, creating, and collaborating with like-minded people is also very important  to me.  

What's something you have been learning lately? 

That patience is key. As a mother I often must let go my own desires and ideas. I think it’s a good exercise. It’s great to have goals and see where you want to be heading in life, but you simply cannot force things. I think we should be confident that things will come our way on the right time in the right way.

Can you share about your upbringing? What experiences have most led to who you are  today?  

I was born in a creative, internationally minded family and you can tell this by the way me, and  my brothers were raised. My father is an artist, my mother a passionate reader – we’ve always  been surrounded by colours, paintings, drawings, books, stories, ideas. Values such as personal development, integrity, independence, creativity, and humour have always been more important  than anything related to career, money, or property. This certainly has made me to what I am  today. 

Three things about you that most people don't know.  

Although I favour soft, muted and usually warmer tones, like greys and beiges, I do embrace bright colours and I’ve created a lot of colourful designs over the years. B) I read the religious and  philosophical work of Leo Tolstoy and C) I rarely watch any series or shows (I prefer to carefully  select a movie that is meaningful, rather than just pleasant pastime).

 Tell us a little about your work. Have you always been interested in design?

I’ve wanted to have a creative job ever since I was young. I did not know precisely what, but I  remember saying I simply wanted to work with beautiful things. This is what my current job looks like. My background is graphic design, I am very passionate about paper, magazines, and  books. But my role evolved gradually, as I’ve always been interested in various disciplines – photography, architecture, interior, design, fashion, … Today I’m working in creative direction, concept development, (interior) styling and some photography along the way too. 

Is there something you tend to collect? (In your home, in your wardrobe, in life)

I used to collect all sorts of paper – from a huge variety of paper samples to inspiring cards,  booklets, magazines, and examples of printing techniques. I think that collection can’t grow that  much anymore. Today I like to bring nature finds home every now and then – like stones, pieces  of wood, wildflowers.  

How would you choose to spend alone time if/when you get it? 

Good question! I would like to read more often (on a sunny day, in a hammock in my future  luscious garden) and would also spend time on personal projects, to create work close to my  heart.

What are you passionate about?  

A hand-woven basket, a wheel-thrown ceramic cup, a linen dress, a brass tea caddy, … I’m  passionate about beautifully crafted objects – pieces made by talented people that master a certain craft or art. Objects made of honest and beautiful materials that carry a unique story. 

Your instagram aesthetic is so soft and minimal. Does this translate to all aspects of your life  as well? 

Definitely. I think this aesthetic is part of my identity – it comes very naturally. In all aspects of  my life, I seek for the elimination of excess, to create serenity. It’s about calming down and  being able to focus on the essentials.

Something you "swear by" or recommend frequently?  

Keep it simple.

Fanny wears the Sadie dress, the Finley dress in Oatmeal, and the Briar Top in olive.

Photos by Marieke Verdenius