At Floor Coverings International Williamson County, we love to bring you creative insight and perspectives from some of the top influencers in the Texas design world. Our latest interview features Austin designer Angelica Norton of Open Envelope Studio. You can follow Angelica on Facebook, Instagram, Houzz, Twitter, and Pinterest.
angelica norton

Please tell us a little about yourself.

I have a Master of Landscape Architecture from the University of Texas at Austin.  I own a landscape design/build firm called Open Envelope Studio, LLC with my husband, Matt Norton, who also graduated from the UT School of Architecture.  We enjoyed designing together while in college, so it was a natural transition to start a business together.  When I’m not designing, overseeing plant placement and installation, or sharing OES project images on social media, I’m spending time with my family or decompressing with creative outlets like sewing and writing.

Why did you decide to start a blog? What do you enjoy about blogging?

My undergraduate degree had a focus in creative writing and I have performed poetry or storytelling on stage since high school.  I initially started blogging on my now inactive parenting blog to keep up with milestones and memories of our two daughters.  Driven by the direction of comments from my community of parenting bloggers, many of my posts had to do with passing on information and tips, sharing birth stories by contributors, and party decoration ideas.  Once Matt and I started OES in 2011, I pivoted my focus to growing our company, although our daughters still make appearances in the occasional blog posts.  The purpose of the OES blog is to make beautiful landscapes more accessible by providing a source of information for those researching modern landscape ideas, such as material comparisons, small space arrangements, or budgetary expectations.

How would you describe your design style?

Our primary focus at OES is space-making, which is informed by our multi-disciplinary backgrounds in architecture and landscape architecture.  We feel that designs are at their best when they’ve been distilled down to their simplest forms.  We like minimal designs that rely on details, proportions, and quality of execution for impact.  I utilize a variety of plants to soften the orthogonal lines of the architecture, create volumes and thresholds, and give color, texture, and movement throughout the year.  Much of my plant palette includes native species to provide habitat and food for local wildlife while requiring very little water.  I never select invasive species and use turf grass sparingly as unprogrammed play areas when it serves the greater composition.

Where do you find most of your inspiration?

Traveling has given me a lot of inspiration, especially when visiting incredible parks or taking note of plant massings in natural areas; Matt is inspired by modernist architects like Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Pierre Koenig, as well as the courtyard homes of Joseph Eichler.

Tell us about a recent project you’re proud of.

I’m really proud of the project that we designed this spring and we spent all summer fabricating: Buck Residence.  It’s a full-property installation, including the front, back, and courtyard.  This couple’s home was remodeled before they purchased it and the front door was moved to face the busiest street, which serves as an on-ramp to a highway.  Functionally, entry circulation needed to be clarified and privacy was obviously a huge concern.  They loved modern landscapes from Palm Springs, so our design proposal included minimal but structured plantings, concrete and steel walls, an entry courtyard with polycarbonate panels, and clean lines to define spaces.  While the entire property is now fenced off, the front yard is still accessible and visually open to the neighborhood.  The backyard patio serves as a dining space, which connects to the hot tub deck and gardening areas with raised steel planters.

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