MEET THE DESIGNER
A CT DESIGNER DRAWS INSPIRATION
FROM THE 18TH AND 19TH CENTURIES
TO CREATE FRESH LOOKS
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Who is someone, living or deceased, that inspires you and your designs? Stanford White of the architectural firm McKim, Mead & White of the late 1800s. He created unexpected vistas with the use of paired arched openings, which centered on a strong focal point that in turn invited us into and through his spaces. What new projects are you looking forward to? Creating an NYC apartment space for a theater director. Starting with raw space is a great opportunity to create an environment unique to the individual and their lifestyle.
What season is your favorite to design in—which most inspires you? This is a tough one! Fall to me is the most sensual of the seasons. We feel its first fires burning, colors and crispness. The natural light and colors of the first blooms of spring also provide renewal and rebirth in my designs. Are there any new design trends that you are excited about? I think we are returning to the notion of home as a sanctuary. We are seeing a return to the classics, and the home library has started to provide both decorative and literary appeal, as well as refuge.
What is signature about the homes you design—what elements scream "Jean Marie"? It is always my goal for the interiors I create to speak to the people who occupy them vs. scream my name! In particular, my designs include unexpected and often antique lighting fixtures—especially sconces, which are not only architectural and decorative, but also provide soft and sensual lighting. Can you tell us a little about your own home? My home is a true labor of love. Eighteen years and two renovations have transformed it from a quaint Cape to a stone-and-shingle Colonial with classical interior detailing. Many of the pieces in my home are the result of relentless auction searching, which became an addiction for me after visiting the Paris flea markets.
What does every room need? The most essential, yet often overlooked, aspect of every room is varied and beautiful lighting. Overhead lighting should always be placed on a dimmer—nothing ruins a room more than bright lighting. What famous structure would you have liked to design? Le Petit Trianon in Versailles, France built for Mme. de Pompadour in 1761. It's the quintessential neoclassical building with elegant and harmonious proportions and light-filled spaces, all richly detailed in the French classical tradition. If you could have any super power, what would it be, and why? The ability to be a design "traveler" and travel between periods in the history of art and design with the potential to learn from the great masters. If you could go back to any era of design, which would you choose? I would love to have the chance to go on a grand tour of 18th-century Europe. The access to art, architecture and curiosities of the time would have been a truly enriching cultural experience.