Anyone who has met Bonnie J. Steves, Associate ASID and founding principal of BJS-Assoc. Interior Design, knows that a call, a meeting, or now even a Zoom call, can last for hours. It’s down to Bonnie’s love of life and gift for storytelling. The talented interior designer envelopes you with her energy. Which then, of course, keeps you wanting to stay in her world for just a little bit longer.
So it’s no surprise then that Bonnie’s life’s work is about turning a room, a home, a location into the backdrop of another’s life story. She gets to know her clients; their hopes, fears and even what they do in their spare time, in an effort to create spaces that feel authentic.
We had the chance to catch up with Bonnie Steves recently, between updates on her beautiful garden, and wanted to share a bit about her journey and plans ahead.
Tell us about your business?
Business is business unless you turn your passion into your business. I grew up with a mom and dad who had a career which relegated their creative projects like painting, sewing, knitting, baking and mosaics, to evenings or weekends. The result is that I too believed that my creative outlets and passion for fashion and design could only be extracurricular.
Yet as I began to think about a career, I took into consideration the creative outlets I had growing up. The perfect combination of business and creative was marketing and special events. So, I spent the first part of my career in fashion doing special events. And was able to work with high-end luxury brands like Tiffany, Escada, Mattel, Giorgio, Young President’s Organization, Chrysler, Yahoo and Nissan.
What was the path that led you to the work you do today?
Although I loved my work, the challenge was that as the projects got bigger, teams got bigger, etc. And unfortunately creativity did not play as big of a role. I spent most of my time managing teams and responsibilities. So creating and designing the projects were not at the core of my day-to-day activities.
As I considered my future career, using my creativity became paramount to envisioning how I saw my future. I always loved interior design and used my own homes as a palette for design inspiration. So as I thought about what was next, it became more about incorporating a true passion for design into my work.
And with that, I went back to school to study interior design. And then took a role working for one of the foremost interior designers in New York City! I incorporated my project management skills along with my design sensibility. And was able to work on product licensing and interior projects throughout the country and internationally. In 2009 I formed my own interior design busines. And I have continued to hone my skills and interest in design ever since.
What have been some of your favorite projects?
Designing a bedroom and bathroom for Ronald McDonald House to serve families going through serious life challenges so they could enjoy a beautifully-designed space that is tranquil and comfortable. Additionally, I designed the first-ever laundry room to be featured in the Kips Bay Showhouse. I also enjoyed creating the Benjamin Moore color of the year booth for the Architectural Design show.
I was also asked to design, in the past, a number of collections for a furnishing manufacturer and spent a great deal of time in China developing and bringing the collections to life.
How do you see your work evolving?
In this new world of connecting with so many people online, the designer in me comes out. Of course so does the fashion police when I see how many present themselves online. Having had the time recently to reflect, I have come to realize how much I want to share the secrets I’ve learned over the years about the power, magic and joy of fashion and design.
Throughout my career, fashion has driven many of my interior designs and vice versa. Interior design and the way I dress is very much about me and being my “brand.” It is whimsical, unique and unexpected, yet always appropriate. I like to think it’s traditional with a twist! It is a vocabulary that I have collected from a lifetime of experiences.
So as we learn to embrace the WFH environment, I see a huge opportunity to do it with style. This includes conducting webinars and workshops to give everyone the tools to ‘Work From Home with Style’. It’s so important to learn how to present yourself on camera, as well as, creating the perfect backdrop for your on screen video chats. I envision helping people be the best brand they can and getting them camera-ready!
What does the very busy Bonnie Steves do for fun?
Gardening, photography, reading, skiing, hiking, biking, baking and traveling (it is limited to fantasy travel for the time being!)
How have you been managing stay-at-home?
Solving more and more complex jigsaw puzzles, baking, creating a COVID-19 cookbook and experimenting with loads of new recipes. I am making a mean and mouth watering roasted chicken with rice! Not to mention, capping it off with my double chocolate chip brownies with cream cheese! Yum! Oh, and, house hunting for a castle or chateau online.
If you would like to learn more about BJS-Assoc. Interior Design. Or if you need help styling your virtual work meetings! Please get in touch and we’ll make an introduction to Bonnie.