Aromatherapy — Both at home and in the workplace, making sure that your space smells good is a great way to add to the calmness of your space. Tranquility can come from visual elements as well as your sense of smell, so paying attention to all of those elements is important for an all-around sense of calm. I recommend trying different essential oils in a diffuser (my favorite is from Muji) and deciding which scents affect and resonate with you.
As part of my series on the “5 Things You Can Do To Help Your Living Space Spark More Joy”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jessica Shaw. She is the Interior Design Director for the NYC-based award-winning architecture and design firm the Turett Collaborative. Fusing her diverse experience in retail and residential design to live events; production design and art direction for film; video production for installations and performance art, Jessica has pushed the boundaries of the conventional role of an interior designer.
Thank you so much for joining us in this series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Growing up in the home of an artist, I was constantly exposed to a lot of visual arts. My original fascination was with theater design; I was fortunate enough to experience a lot of performance art throughout my early years. The magic of seeing sets transform and tell a story was very compelling to me, and early on I decided that set design was what I wanted to do as a career. Being practically minded, however, and growing up around only a few theaters in St. Catherines, Ontario, the thought of interior design seemed more realistic. I decided that at age sixteen and began gearing myself toward that. I attended Ryerson, one of the best schools for design in Canada, and have since explored many different sectors of the design world. Overall, my childhood is what led me on this specific path. When I was invited by a fellow designer to come to New York and work for Estee Lauder in the nineties, I could not say no, and that jump-started my career in New York.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
There are a lot of interesting stories, but one that stands out is flying to San Francisco for only four hours while a client I had worked with in New York signed on a house. He was choosing a home in a very exclusive area of Silicon Valley and was pretty sure he wanted the house but wanted me to see it before he signed off. I hopped on a flight that day from Manhattan to San Francisco, saw the house, he bought it, and I flew home.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
We are currently hoping to work with a brand that has approached us looking to create a community hub in the city for local creatives. Working with a company that I have admired for many years is exciting, as is contributing to a space that will allow others to carry out their creative dreams.
We have also recently been working with a couple we have designed two homes for, who is looking to revamp their house ten years after the original design. Because we have a relationship, we have a lot of confidence going into the project and work in a very fluid way. It is always fun to work with people you know you collaborate well with. This project will give them a new perspective of their home, allow for updated family living, as they now have a child, and preemptively prepare their home to be put on the market in the future.
Our team has also been working on a multi-family condominium project in an exciting area of Brooklyn. It has been a lot of fun to design thoughtful architecture for a multi-family residence, which often tends to be cookie cutter. It feels like we are building something that goes with the fabric of the neighborhood and provides healthy community living.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Always sleep on big decisions.”
I take this to mean not to be impulsive. I really live by that. Even if I think I know the answer to something, or the next step I want to take — anything major — I always sleep on it. This applies to everything I do in my work. For example, if I write a proposal, I never send it out the same day; I look it over in the morning with a fresh pair of eyes. Life is always different the next day, which has taught me to really be patient about the big decisions.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
There are many people who have helped me along the way that I owe a big thank you to.
The collaboration and dynamic I have had with Wayne Turett (founder of The Turett Collaborative) that I have had over the years, prior to me becoming a formal member of the team, has really helped to put me in front of some wonderful clients.
I also owe a lot to Andrew Rasiej , a client of ours. One of the highlights of my career has been completing the design of his home. He is such an admirable individual and we have a great camaraderie. His joy with the results of the project really affirmed something for me.
The other person who always comes to mind is real estate agent Sean Turner. As an independent designer before I met Wayne, I was working with one of her clients when Tribeca was first developing in the late 90s. This client had a deal with the developer of the new building he was living in that allowed him to play around with the floorplan of his unit. This caused a lot of extra work for Sean, as I was constantly coming up to bat for the client and advocating for customization requests. Cut to a year later, when Sean recommended me to a new client, for a triplex in Tribeca, and simultaneously asked me if I would help her with her own home. She was impressed with my work and how I took care of the previous client, and I was her go-to designer. She referred me to almost 80% of my work for the first five years of my career, and I owe her a huge thank you.
Thank you for that. Here is the main question of our discussion. What are your “5 Things You Can Do To Help Your Living Space Spark More Joy” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
Both at home and in the workplace, making sure that your space smells good is a great way to add to the calmness of your space. Tranquility can come from visual elements as well as your sense of smell, so paying attention to all of those elements is important for an all-around sense of calm. I recommend trying different essential oils in a diffuser (my favorite is from Muji) and deciding which scents affect and resonate with you.
Take a moment to practice some feng shui and clear out the clutter that you have accumulated. By both getting rid of things that are no longer needed and better organizing what you do keep, having less around you can contribute to a balanced, serene atmosphere. In the way you would go through your closest to get rid of pieces you no longer wear, do the same with furniture, decor, and knick-knacks. It doesn’t mean that your space has to be empty, but creating a more open area decreases too much visual stimulation.
Turn on the tunes
Whether it is white noise or music that helps you feel your best, tapping into your auditory side and installing or buying some new speakers is an easy way to fill your home with music that you control and choose. Any speaker will do, and the music choice is up to you. Many people turn to instrumentals, ambient noise, or soothing music to create a sense of serenity in their home.
Reuse and recycle
Bringing a bit of change and visual stimulation to your home can make it feel like a new space. While you do not have to necessarily purchase new furniture, reupholstering and repositioning existing pieces is an affordable way to reorganize your relationship with your space and how it is filled.
If it sounds simple, that’s because it is! Having fresh flowers or a succulent in each area of your home brings in a connection to nature, especially for those who live in urban events and do not have access to a backyard garden or much greenery. I always have a vase of flowers on my desk or windowsill. It does not have to be anything fancy — a bouquet from the deli will work. It is the intention and visual reminder that counts.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Many years ago, I started Yoga for Youths, which was an initiative to get kids turned on to self-awareness and meditation. As a lover of yoga and meditation myself, I reached out to people from yoga studios and had them volunteer in schools to introduce local kids to yoga.
If I were to start a movement for good, it would be to give women to developing countries bank loans through micro-financing, an idea coined by the honorable Muhammad Yunus. Funding arts initiatives around the world to people who may not have had access to the materials and tools necessary to do so would bring a more diverse range of voices to the design world and uplift untapped creativity.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this, especially if we tag them 🙂
If I could sit down with anyone, it would be Muhammad Yunus, the man who created mico-financing. He is a Bangaldeshi social entrepreneur and civil society leader, two things which I greatly admire.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational!