The Style Files: Gen Sohr of Pencil and Paper

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I first heard about Gen and Ben Sohr of Pencil & Paper Creative Development Co. in Nashville when they were featured in Matchbook Magazine in January of 2015. I remember being struck by the husband and wife duo’s playful design aesthetic which blends vintage and modern elements with a fun dose of color and pattern. After a while, I found out that Ben had started his career in retail several years ago and it turned out that we had a good friend in common in Mark Sikes. It is certainly a small world! With backgrounds in visual merchandising and architecture, it was only natural that when the couple moved back to Ben’s native Nashville, they would renovate a house, in their case, a 1930s charmer in serious need of some TLC. Since completing their renovation, the couple’s burgeoning firm has taken on countless design projects including full-scale renovations, working on the team that brought Reese Witherspoon’s Draper James Nashville store to life, and helping to launch brands and lend their creative wisdom on multiple ventures. I recently got to know Gen a little better through the newest installment of The Style Files. I hope you’ll enjoy getting to know the fairer half of this talented duo as much as I have!


Paloma Contreras: How would you describe your style?
Gen Sohr: Traditional meets modern, collected and fresh.

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PC: Has living in Nashville influenced your aesthetic in any way?

GS: Definitely….you can’t help but be enamored by Nashville’s traditional southern style, charm and hospitality.

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PC: What does your home say about you?

GS: I think a home should be personal….I hope that when people see our house they think its a reflection of us, of our family….the places that we have traveled and the pieces we have collected.

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PC: Where do you turn for inspiration?
GS: I think inspiration is EVERYWHERE…..sometimes it’s in a beautifully filmed movie, a vintage fabric, art, travel, and even Instagram.

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PC: Who are your personal style icons?

GS: Diana Vreeland, Jackie Kennedy, and Jenna Lyons


PC: Is there anything you find particularly challenging about working with your spouse?

GS: Two strong-willed “decision makers”….. is not always easy.

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PC: What part of it delights you?

GS: Traveling and being inspired….”together”.

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PC: What is your guilty pleasure?

GS: I often start the day with a McDonalds coke….shh don’t tell.

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PC: Who/what has been your greatest professional influence?

GS: I started my retail career with Gap Brands…and at the age of 21 I relocated to San Francisco to be part of a small team that rolled out the Old Navy Brand. This amazing team of people and my first boss (Jody Patraka) have been huge influence….I actually met my husband Benjamin there.

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PC: What is your idea of living “la dolce vita”?

GS: Being surrounded by the people that you love in a home that brings you joy.

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PC: What can we look forward to next from you?

GS: We are excited to be designing FrameBridge’s new offices in Washington, D.C. We are also collaborating with Serena and Lily on an amazing summer party at our home. We will be speaking at ADAC in March (A Candid Conversation on Conquering the Digital Design Space) and are designing our first Window at Legends 2017. We will be featured in Ronda Carmen’s upcoming Rizzoli book: “Entertaining at Home”. We recently launched a collection with ceramicist Jill Rosenwald and have some other exciting collaborations in the works. We also recently completed a re-imagining of the historic George Dickel Distillery and created a new retail concept for the brand ….up next: Stitzel Weller Bourbon.

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Go-To Outfit: neutral cashmere sweater or blue and white stripe T, wide leg/crop jean, leopard shoe or Stan Smiths
Style Mantra: Buy what you LOVE
Scent: anything with Jasmine, Honey Suckle or Gardenia
Piece of Jewelry: vintage gold rolex my husband gave me
Color I Never Tire Of: White. Is that a color? I also love blue or our signature orangey red.
Flower: peony and gardenia
Indispensable Design Element: rattan
Dream Project: hotel
Fabric/Textile: Schumacher, Quadrille, vintage
Hostess Gift: Prosecco with our signature gift tag
Meal: In and Out Burger
Drink: Prosecco with a splash of St. Germaine or ice cold Kalik Bahamian Beer preferably on a boat somewhere in the Bahamas
Way to Unwind after a Long Day at Work: Family dinner and some late night vintage dress hunting on Etsy
3 Things I Love About My City: southern hospitality, the best “meat and three’s, local road trips
Weekend Destination: Miami… hometown
Hotel: Chateau Marmot in Hollywood
City: Amsterdam
Museum: SF MOMA
Artist: so many….. Alexander Calder, Josef Albers, Henri Matisse
Prized Possession: the art that we have collected over the years
Risk Worth Taking: leaving Corporate America
Go-To Color Palette: blue and white with touches of orangey red and always a few natural elements
I can never have too many…vintage dresses

Paloma Signature

{Photography by Leslee Mitchell, Courtesy of Pencil & Paper Creative Development Co.}

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  1. Hi! I just discovered your blog and love it! I have a random question. I’m looking to replace the doorknobs in my house. Is there a rule of thumb to follow in terms of matching the doorknobs to other fixtures in the room or should they be consistent throughout the house? What did you do in your new home? – thanks Debbie