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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Designer Interview: Jennifer of Design Hole

I had the pleasure of interviewing a friendly and talented designer, Jennifer Mitchell, of Design Hole - Jennifer is based just across the river in Grosse Pointe, Michigan.

Photo courtesy Design Hole
Here is a photo of Jennifer with 'Misterarthur' (a regular guest blogger for Design Hole) at the Junior League of Detroit Showhouse opening night. Jennifer transformed a powder room, adjacent coat closet and dressing area into a chic space dubbed the 'Gentleman's Club.'

1. In a nutshell, how would you describe your personal style?

My personal style is a bit eclectic. Truly, if I could have my way I’d own several houses and have one that was super modern, another that was a beat up beach shack, and a third house in a mish-mash of styles which would require a bed with a canopy. I’ve always wanted one of those. Maybe it could be sort of Indian. I’m into that a lot right now.

Photo courtesy Domino Magazine

2. What/who has been the biggest influence on your design style?

I’d have to say that it was learning to look at all sorts of things to find inspiration. That’s where design starts for me. Expanding my knowledge regarding where to go when I’m feeling stumped or when I’m looking for something fresh allowed my creativity to truly break free.

3. What is your favourite design trend?

Right now, I’m loving ethnic patterns from India and Africa. Suzanis are great. All the tiles, textiles, and colors are gorgeous. I have a special affinity for color and love to work with it when I design. So styles from those countries are a trend I see taking off.

Photo courtesy Gorgeous suzani fabrics!

Photo courtesy A suzani upholstered ottoman

4. What is the most annoying decor/design pet peeve you see with clients or in general?
I have two pet peeves. One is clients who know everything they don’t like, but nothing they do, and are not willing to do any homework. The first place to start when working with a professional is the bookshop. Start a collection of images you like, colors, furniture, over all looks, anything that appeals. This not only helps a client to think about what they like, it a great way to communicate those likes to a designer.

The second is paint. So many times I get to a prospective client’s home and they’ve already painted. I like to remind my readers at Design Hole to always choose the paint last. You can mix a can of paint in any color imaginable. But your carpet, your curtains, all other color-related elements come in a limited palette.

5. What is your current favourite resource/store?

Any good designer shops in lots of stores because each job is different. Each look is different. However, Royal Oak is full of great home stores. Shine, Vertu, and R2Home are some favorites. And, of course, there’s Mezzanine, which is owned by a friend of mine. He sells amazing things and great accessories. Plus, he can help me find things and makes great suggestions.

Photo courtesy Detroit Metro Mix

6. What is the simplest design-related thing you’ve done that has made the biggest impact?

I was finishing up a room for a show house and I had about an hour left before my deadline. I realized that the room was screaming for an additional art work and, to my perfectionist’s eye, would be a failure without something. Eureka! I ran home, where I had the perfectly sized canvas. I whipped out my paints and created my own Rothko–inspired masterpiece. Even a solid block of color on a wrapped canvas can work wonders in a room. (See the actual Rothko painting below).

Rothko painting photo courtesy

7. In this ‘economic crisis’, how do you feel your clients and people in general may change?

Geez, that’s a tough question! I think it started with people not moving and fixing up their existing homes. Now, things are worse and folks are looking to do things themselves. I’m doing a lot more consulting work, as opposed to full-on design work than I used to.
But clients still want quality products. I think if they can paint a room themselves, they’ll save money by doing that so they can afford the furnishings they really want.
I also recommend that, if you see something you like, don’t be afraid to ask for a discount. Everybody's hurting and everyone needs to make a sale – even if it’s at 10% off.

8. What paint colour did you paint your office?

I don’t remember! It’s a sort of sage green with more blue in it than yellow.

9. Name 2 favourite items you currently wear that you love.

I bought a really cool pair of Navy pants from Max Mara that I’m looking forward to wearing this season. They’re high waisted and have suspenders. I love those. I bought a great black Jil Sander dress with a metal zipper up the back. Now I need a party to go to!

10. What could someone identify as some trademark elements of your designs?

I like the color red, to paint ceilings a color and to mix contemporary and antiques together.

Photo courtesy Design Hole
A photo of Jennifer Mitchell's Junior League Showhouse Design. I love how she has used red and black!

11. Please answer : If I could be anywhere right now, I’d be...
.... in Paris reading Emma Who Saved My Life, staying at Le Relais St Sulpice, with plans to dine at Benoit.

Photo of Le Relais St. Sulpice, Paris
Photo courtesy Michael Piazza

Thanks so much Jennifer, for your great answers and your Junior League photos! Be sure to check out Jennifer's blog

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