AWANAY PRESENTS: NICOLE FRANZEN
9 December, 2020
With an authentic talent, photographer Nicole Franzen shares through her own lense, the interior of her beautiful apartment in Brooklyn, New York with her newest additions – an AWANAY rug and throw! Her photography is centred around interiors, food, travel, people and lifestyle. Her work is truly remarkable. Her eye captures minimal, sophisticated yet warm and soft images. One can see through her photography the story behind it with such depth, interest and profoundness. Besides her uncanny talent she is also the loveliest person to talk with! Take a journey through her wonderful home while reading through our lovely chat with her.
With an authentic talent, photographer Nicole Franzen shares through her own lense, the interior of her beautiful apartment in Brooklyn, New York with her newest addition – an AWANAY rug and throw! Her photography is centred around interiors, food, travel, people and lifestyle. Her work is truly remarkable. Her eye captures minimal, sophisticated yet warm and soft images. One can see through her photography the story behind it with such depth, interest and profoundness. Besides her uncanny talent she is also the loveliest person to talk with! Take a journey through her wonderful home while reading through our lovely chat with her.
Tell us a bit about your path as a photographer. How did it all start?

 

N: If I look back, I was always super aware of my surroundings. I looked at the world through a photographic lens. I saw the details and the light of the world. I can remember visiting friends homes when I was around the age of 8, being super in awe of the fabrics, the colors, the objects. I am very nostalgic and love watching scenes and documenting from the outside. Throughout high school I would take pics at parties, portraits of friends, places I went and kept a wall of photos in my bedroom. Once I started traveling it continued to grow. I started shifting my idea of what photography meant to me and that I may be able to use it as a medium to combine all my loves, for design, travel and food. So I started working on it, passionately every single day. In a nutshell here we are.

 

What do you enjoy most about your work? Are there any drawbacks?

 

N: I love that every day my job takes me somewhere different, whether it be a new location or new client. It always keeps things fresh and interesting. I also love being on my feet vrs a desk job. Traveling is one of my favorite things and I’ve been so lucky to have had the wealth of experiences I’ve had. Drawbacks are that living said transient life, now that I am 35 I feel like I have neglected certains areas in my life. I would love to have a dog and I can’t really commit to anything that requires too much time/effort because I travel (pre covid) nearly half of the year. So I don’t always feel particularly rooted in a specific place.
Tell us a bit about your path as a photographer. How did it all start?

 

N: If I look back, I was always super aware of my surroundings. I looked at the world through a photographic lens. I saw the details and the light of the world. I can remember visiting friends homes when I was around the age of 8, being super in awe of the fabrics, the colors, the objects. I am very nostalgic and love watching scenes and documenting from the outside. Throughout high school I would take pics at parties, portraits of friends, places I went and kept a wall of photos in my bedroom. Once I started traveling it continued to grow. I started shifting my idea of what photography meant to me and that I may be able to use it as a medium to combine all my loves, for design, travel and food. So I started working on it, passionately every single day. In a nutshell here we are.

 

What do you enjoy most about your work? Are there any drawbacks?

 

N: I love that every day my job takes me somewhere different, whether it be a new location or new client. It always keeps things fresh and interesting. I also love being on my feet vrs a desk job. Traveling is one of my favorite things and I’ve been so lucky to have had the wealth of experiences I’ve had. Drawbacks are that living said transient life, now that I am 35 I feel like I have neglected certains areas in my life. I would love to have a dog and I can’t really commit to anything that requires too much time/effort because I travel (pre covid) nearly half of the year. So I don’t always feel particularly rooted in a specific place.
living room nicole franzen home decor interior design photography
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living room nicole franzen home decor interior design photography
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Can you name two projects you’ve enjoyed working in the most? Why?

 

N: I would say the book I did with Athena Calderone “Live Beautiful” was one of the most special projects within the last few years. From shooting the projects, traveling and meeting the amazing designers of the homes we shot it was such an incredible experience. Seeing it come to life and being hands on throughout the whole process was really special.

 

I also photograph food occasionally, some of my cookbook projects have been the most rewarding. I feel really in sync with people who are utterly passionate about growing food, making food and the sense of hospitality that comes with it. Since I spent over a decade in the restaurant industry prior to my life as a photographer, I will always consider myself a “food person”. Cookbook projects like “The Lost Kitchen” that we shot in rural Maine throughout the course of a year or working with the Bestia team in Los Angeles and Alex DeBoschneck on her mother’s farm upstate. Those will be forever special projects I hold close to my heart.

 

Describe your taste in design in three words.

 

N: I gravitate towards minimalism, timelessness and elegance.

 

Tell us about your home. What do you like most about it?

 

N: Like all apartments in New York, you face a list of oddities. Not to lead with the negatives but the apartment’s shape is a bit strange. The front of the building cuts in at an angle, which really messes with my love for symmetry. The building was previously a radiator factory and has since been converted into two apartments. My dear friends live across the hall and it’s a bit like an episode of Friends around here.

 

In the main living space, there is a row of very large windows. The apartment is pretty bright and airy, a big plus in my book. The kitchen on one side and the couch on the other. Coming up with a floor plan to best utilize the small space was tricky. I needed a place to dine, a place to chill, a place to work and a place to cook. What was really important to me was to create a little comfortable oasis, a place to really relax after the busy intense days in the city. I wanted a soft couch, I chose two comfy vintage chairs made in boucle and the wool rug is so soft you’d happily lay on that for movie night. I have a small dining table that sits two but can also fit four pretty comfortably. The apartment has many things that for most seem quite common but for NYC is a real sign you’ve made it, like a laundry machine!

 

Do you have any daily rituals you do at home?

 

N: Yes, I’m a bit of an early bird. I make a pot of tea first thing when I wake up. I appreciate slow mornings and like to give myself a bit of time before rushing off. I tend to be my most productive in the early mornings and I often answer most of my emails before 8am (workaholic much?) I love cooking and do so often, I regularly bike to the farmers market on the weekends and load up the fridge with fresh things. Lots of movies/show watching happen on my couch.
Can you name two projects you’ve enjoyed working in the most? Why?

 

N: I would say the book I did with Athena Calderone “Live Beautiful” was one of the most special projects within the last few years. From shooting the projects, traveling and meeting the amazing designers of the homes we shot it was such an incredible experience. Seeing it come to life and being hands on throughout the whole process was really special.

 

I also photograph food occasionally, some of my cookbook projects have been the most rewarding. I feel really in sync with people who are utterly passionate about growing food, making food and the sense of hospitality that comes with it. Since I spent over a decade in the restaurant industry prior to my life as a photographer, I will always consider myself a “food person”. Cookbook projects like “The Lost Kitchen” that we shot in rural Maine throughout the course of a year or working with the Bestia team in Los Angeles and Alex DeBoschneck on her mother’s farm upstate. Those will be forever special projects I hold close to my heart.

 

Describe your taste in design in three words.

 

N: I gravitate towards minimalism, timelessness and elegance.

 

Tell us about your home. What do you like most about it?

 

N: Like all apartments in New York, you face a list of oddities. Not to lead with the negatives but the apartment’s shape is a bit strange. The front of the building cuts in at an angle, which really messes with my love for symmetry. The building was previously a radiator factory and has since been converted into two apartments. My dear friends live across the hall and it’s a bit like an episode of Friends around here.

 

In the main living space, there is a row of very large windows. The apartment is pretty bright and airy, a big plus in my book. The kitchen on one side and the couch on the other. Coming up with a floor plan to best utilize the small space was tricky. I needed a place to dine, a place to chill, a place to work and a place to cook. What was really important to me was to create a little comfortable oasis, a place to really relax after the busy intense days in the city. I wanted a soft couch, I chose two comfy vintage chairs made in boucle and the wool rug is so soft you’d happily lay on that for movie night. I have a small dining table that sits two but can also fit four pretty comfortably. The apartment has many things that for most seem quite common but for NYC is a real sign you’ve made it, like a laundry machine!

 

Do you have any daily rituals you do at home?

 

N: Yes, I’m a bit of an early bird. I make a pot of tea first thing when I wake up. I appreciate slow mornings and like to give myself a bit of time before rushing off. I tend to be my most productive in the early mornings and I often answer most of my emails before 8am (workaholic much?) I love cooking and do so often, I regularly bike to the farmers market on the weekends and load up the fridge with fresh things. Lots of movies/show watching happen on my couch.
Has quarantine made you fonder of your home?

 

N: I’ve always been a bit of a homebody and someone who values a well thought through home. I am very domestic and love all things design, cooking, gardening/floral. I’ve been in my place for about 2 years and constantly add and change things around. It’s finally getting to a place where I am happy-ish, having some of the bigger pieces in place. Saying that, because I shoot interiors for a living I can never just let things be. I am always looking at new furniture and art. My bare walls are crying for a painting but I’m really waiting for the right piece. It’s so important to live in your space and add slowly over time. You learn as you go and I would have for sure done things differently but it’s all part of the process. I can’t wait for the day when I can have fun decorating something bigger than a 600 square foot apt.

 

Favorite items in your house? What ‘s their story?

 

N: I bought a cabinet that I love from designers Guillerme et Chambron. I’m a big fan of much of their furniture. The duo created beautiful pieces out of Northern France in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s after they met while imprisoned by Nazis during WWII. I bought it from an antiques dealer in London. My dining table I had made by this super talented furniture designer and sculptor out of North Carolina named Casey Johnson. The table base was inspired by one of my favorite artists, Brâncuși. I also collect ceramics, I can’t stop. I have them from all over the world. I’m always on the hunt for my next pieces. My little wicker stool by Tony Paul brings in a little americana, my coffee table is from Danish brand & Tradition designed by Space Copenhagen. A ceramic lamp by my pal Danny Kaplan made here in Brooklyn.
We see lots of cooking and food on your Instagram. What are your three go-to ingredients to cook with?

 

N: All things fresh and green, I love herbs, greens, brassicas. You will always find lemons, good olive oil, flaky salt. I always have parm and feta. I make lots of salads, pastas, soups, roasted chicken and stewed meats in the winter months.
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Has quarantine made you fonder of your home?

 

N: I’ve always been a bit of a homebody and someone who values a well thought through home. I am very domestic and love all things design, cooking, gardening/floral. I’ve been in my place for about 2 years and constantly add and change things around. It’s finally getting to a place where I am happy-ish, having some of the bigger pieces in place. Saying that, because I shoot interiors for a living I can never just let things be. I am always looking at new furniture and art. My bare walls are crying for a painting but I’m really waiting for the right piece. It’s so important to live in your space and add slowly over time. You learn as you go and I would have for sure done things differently but it’s all part of the process. I can’t wait for the day when I can have fun decorating something bigger than a 600 square foot apt.

 

Favorite items in your house? What ‘s their story?

 

N: I bought a cabinet that I love from designers Guillerme et Chambron. I’m a big fan of much of their furniture. The duo created beautiful pieces out of Northern France in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s after they met while imprisoned by Nazis during WWII. I bought it from an antiques dealer in London. My dining table I had made by this super talented furniture designer and sculptor out of North Carolina named Casey Johnson. The table base was inspired by one of my favorite artists, Brâncuși. I also collect ceramics, I can’t stop. I have them from all over the world. I’m always on the hunt for my next pieces. My little wicker stool by Tony Paul brings in a little americana, my coffee table is from Danish brand & Tradition designed by Space Copenhagen. A ceramic lamp by my pal Danny Kaplan made here in Brooklyn.
We see lots of cooking and food on your Instagram. What are your three go-to ingredients to cook with?

 

N: All things fresh and green, I love herbs, greens, brassicas. You will always find lemons, good olive oil, flaky salt. I always have parm and feta. I make lots of salads, pastas, soups, roasted chicken and stewed meats in the winter months.
NFWEB7
You had quite a “nomadic” lifestyle in the past. How important was this way of living for you?

 

N: It all really started when I was 17. I had the opportunity to move to the Caribbean to a small island in the US Virgin Islands named St John. I didn’t go to university, because I mostly knew that I wanted to work in restaurants and in food. I was ready to head out to start experiencing life as a young adult. I showed up on the island and worked for 2 years there. I met many like minded individuals from all over the world who worked seasonally and traveled for months in between. It was quite an incredible lifestyle. I saved enough money to go to South America. Originally I wanted to go to Europe but knew my money wouldn’t stretch as far. I knew Buenos Aires was the closest thing and showed up just before my 21st birthday. After 8 months there I decided it was time to go chase my dreams in New York City. Traveling and seeing the world has framed my whole being.

 

Which are the favorite places you’ve lived in?

 

N: All of them have offered very unique and special experiences at the time. I’ve lived in New York City the longest coming in at 14 years. A real love/hate relationship but I am forever indebted to the life it’s allowed me to create for myself. There are few places that offer as much opportunity as this city and I love what it has in terms of culture, food, art, design etc. I long for nature and a beautiful home someplace quiet. Hopefully I can have the best of both.
You had quite a “nomadic” lifestyle in the past. How important was this way of living for you?

 

N: It all really started when I was 17. I had the opportunity to move to the Caribbean to a small island in the US Virgin Islands named St John. I didn’t go to university, because I mostly knew that I wanted to work in restaurants and in food. I was ready to head out to start experiencing life as a young adult. I showed up on the island and worked for 2 years there. I met many like minded individuals from all over the world who worked seasonally and traveled for months in between. It was quite an incredible lifestyle. I saved enough money to go to South America. Originally I wanted to go to Europe but knew my money wouldn’t stretch as far. I knew Buenos Aires was the closest thing and showed up just before my 21st birthday. After 8 months there I decided it was time to go chase my dreams in New York City. Traveling and seeing the world has framed my whole being.

 

Which are the favorite places you’ve lived in?

 

N: All of them have offered very unique and special experiences at the time. I’ve lived in New York City the longest coming in at 14 years. A real love/hate relationship but I am forever indebted to the life it’s allowed me to create for myself. There are few places that offer as much opportunity as this city and I love what it has in terms of culture, food, art, design etc. I long for nature and a beautiful home someplace quiet. Hopefully I can have the best of both.
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Please tell us about your experience in Argentina!

 

N: Like I mentioned, I showed up at the age of 21 to Buenos Aires. I originally went with a friend who was living in Portland, we had worked together on St John. I fell in love with the culture, absorbing it like a sponge and trying so hard to fit in. I made the mistake of dying my hair brown lol. I spoke a little Spanish growing up in the west but nothing prepared me for understanding Argentinian Spanish. I quickly learned to survive and took their accent on as one of my own. I met many amazing locals and expats some of whom are still dear friends today. I am still fond and nostalgic over the music, food and traditions. Their passion for life is infectious. I traveled to Mendoza a couple times, the waterfalls in Iguazu, also visiting Brazil, Uruguay and Chile. It was such a special time in my life, after that I moved to NYC. For the years to come I would ditch the winter and go soak up the summer sun in BsAs for months at a time for the years after.

 

We were so happy when you contacted us asking about our rugs. How did you find out about us and what drew you into choosing an AWANAY rug for your home?

 

N: I had stumbled across the brand some years ago. Then I was visiting with a friend in her house in the Hamptons and was reminded of how nice, soft and squishy the rugs are. I also loved the idea of having something hand crafted from Argentina in my home. I loved the earth tone color palette, the thickness of the rug and texture/softness.
Please tell us about your experience in Argentina!

 

N: Like I mentioned, I showed up at the age of 21 to Buenos Aires. I originally went with a friend who was living in Portland, we had worked together on St John. I fell in love with the culture, absorbing it like a sponge and trying so hard to fit in. I made the mistake of dying my hair brown lol. I spoke a little Spanish growing up in the west but nothing prepared me for understanding Argentinian Spanish. I quickly learned to survive and took their accent on as one of my own. I met many amazing locals and expats some of whom are still dear friends today. I am still fond and nostalgic over the music, food and traditions. Their passion for life is infectious. I traveled to Mendoza a couple times, the waterfalls in Iguazu, also visiting Brazil, Uruguay and Chile. It was such a special time in my life, after that I moved to NYC. For the years to come I would ditch the winter and go soak up the summer sun in BsAs for months at a time for the years after.

 

We were so happy when you contacted us asking about our rugs. How did you find out about us and what drew you into choosing an AWANAY rug for your home?

 

N: I had stumbled across the brand some years ago. Then I was visiting with a friend in her house in the Hamptons and was reminded of how nice, soft and squishy the rugs are. I also loved the idea of having something hand crafted from Argentina in my home. I loved the earth tone color palette, the thickness of the rug and texture/softness.
All interior photos by Nicole Franzen
All interior photos by Nicole Franzen

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