As director and the firm hand at the helm of House of Bohn – Vancouver’s Premier Boutique Interior Design Agency – Karin Bohn is a Vancouver-based interior designer and lifestyle brand. The company’s impeccable projects span many industries including residential, retail and hospitality and their award-winning work can be seen and experienced throughout the west coast of BC and throughout Alberta.
After leaving the Alberta College of Art in 1985, I embarked on a journey through Calgary’s interior design scene, primarily as the ‘go-to gal’ at Rhodes Renton (now defunct) and met creative minds that my young 19 year old self could barely comprehend. Creativity was suddenly more than the fine arts and photography I had been taught, it was in fact all around us and influenced our lives minute by minute. What I learned from that experience helped shape the deep appreciation for the people and the perception of the spaces that we chose to place ourselves into, whether professionally or privately.
Fast forward 30 years and I find myself engaging audiences through this online medium. In discussions about form and function, beauty and versatility, fashion and structure, and have a much deeper understanding of the spaces I find myself venturing into. Pondering the thought process of those who have designed these spaces, who speak for the client and turn their vision into reality and ultimately the effect on the end-user. Whether it be a luxury retail store like Saint Laurent Paris or Versace or divine restaurants such as Vancouver’s newest vegan hotspot Virtuous Pie or Anh + Chi, concepts and constructs of form and function are always at the forefront of our experiences whether we recognize them or not.
I have been an admirer of Karin’s drive and zest for her business from the first moment she entered the room at a launch event earlier this year, and immediately someone whispered ‘there is Karin’. I moved off to the side and searched her immediately. Her presence was powerful and when she smiled, the room literally lit up. For me, the ZEST Woman switch had been flipped.
BLUSHVancouver had the pleasure of interviewing her in between Dinner x Design and an impromptu visit to China, for which I am grateful to Karin and Todd Mitchell for their precious time and diligence in ensuring everything went smoothly.
What have been some of your failures and what have you learned from them?
The quote, “I failed my way to success,” comes to mind with this question. I started in the design industry almost 12 years ago and have had my business for almost 8 years now. My trajectory has been sprinkled with failure throughout. I’ve had projects go off the rails, a dissolved partnership, financial losses and made leadership mistakes with staff. I could go on and on listing numerous “failures” and “mistakes” along the way, but the reality is each one of those failures also presented an equally enormous learning opportunity. I don’t think I would be as successful as I am today without all those (sometimes big) failures. And you know what, House of Bohn is still evolving and growing in big ways, so as painful as failure is, it’s going to happen a lot more too.
You can’t have one without the other – failure is an important part of success.
How do you generate new ideas?
When I think about idea generation I think about creativity. And creativity is something everyone has. Everyone might not practice their creativity, but we definitely all possess it.
In the world of interior design, creativity can be about imagination and dreaming, but it also has a lot to do with problem solving. Design is all about coming up with the best and most creative solutions to business and/or personal challenges.
Coming up with new ideas just takes practice and exercise. The more you do it, the better you are at solving those problems in a creative way. Another quote, by Maya Angelou comes to mind: “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”
How do you define success and what is the best way to achieve long-term success.
My definition for success is really simple: Happiness.
I believe living a truly happy life, surrounded with people you love and waking up every day doing something you love is the ultimate success a person can have.
I truly believe the pursuit of money, fame, status, etc., as a means to “success” can be a very empty pursuit. What’s the point of having tons of money, or a lot of fame, while at the same time being ridden with anxiety, guilt, and fragmented personal relationships? That doesn’t really paint a picture of success to me. You could have all those things but if you’re unhappy, how could you really call it success?
So what’s the best way to achieve long-term success? Follow your heart every day.
What makes you happiest? What do you do in your non-work time?
Work. In my non-work time I work.
That might be a little bit of a weird answer but it’s true. I’d say that I’m lucky because I get to do so much of what I love to do, but the reality is I work really hard to create a life I want to live. I’m proud and grateful that I get to work on great design projects with my amazing design team and equally amazing clients. I absolutely love the lifestyle and media side of my business and I’ve recently added amazing people to my team to assist on that end. I love it, so I literally do it every day, all day long. Still after all these years work makes me so happy that I can’t pull myself away from it. I love it.
But, yes, I do have downtime and when I’m not working I’m with my fiancé Chris and we’re usually golfing, skiing, travelling or binge-watching our favourite show on Netflix.
What advice to you have for other women looking to take a big step in their lives?
Just do it. Don’t overthink think it.
It might sound overly simple, and don’t get me wrong there’s been many times in my life where I’ve obsessed and droned on and on to literally anyone that would listen to me about solving a problem or making my next move.
But you know what? Life is short. Follow your heart. And if you fail, so what? I guarantee there’s a bigger success on the heels of that failure so don’t worry about it too much… Just go for it!
WHO IS KARIN BOHN?
I have been working in the design industry for 11 years, eight which have been at the helm of my business. Over the last 2 years House of Bohn has evolved to encompass not only an incredible roster of clients, but an online platform that offers inspiration for interior design, fashion and beauty.
BLUSHVancouver so excited to share Karin’s inspiring words with our readers and if you know a woman who has ZEST who should be honoured with a spotlight in BLUSHVancouver, let us know!