Designer insights with Jane Freiman

Jane Freiman has had a varied career as a cookbook author and magazine editor but with parents as upholsters you could say she was always going to find her way back to interior design. Her blog focuses on home design, kitchens, bathrooms, interior decorating, antique furniture, rugs, collectibles and high quality home products. Educated at the Parsons School of Design in New York City, she has the expertise to provide her readers with advice on all aspects of design. So we are proud to bring you the Designer Insights of Jane Freiman.

Designer Insights with Jane Freiman

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1) In your own words describe your unique style and creative aesthetic?

For me, home spaces must be individual, accessible and modern but never too composed or fixed. I favor unique vintage, salvage or antique pieces which can be used in more than one room. I want wonderful rugs that add color on the floor. And I believe the kitchen is the heart of the house so it must be consistent with the style of all the other rooms – and open to them. My passion is great kitchen design.

2) When starting a new design project, what is your creative process?

Home decoration isn't successful when you try to fight the architecture. I consider the overall style first and then cast specific ideas which are basically a wide range of variations on a theme.

3) Out of all the creative people you have worked with, who is it that you respect and admire the most?

Expertise is what counts most for me. The people I respect the most are the crafts people who are highly opinionated because they are skilled and know immediately what works and what doesn't. One of the contractors who worked on our house is a stunningly talented carpenter. I bought a salvage Aesthetic period mantel that had been removed from a Victorian building. He cut it down and made it fit the existing fireplace flawlessly. No one would guess it wasn't original to the house.

4) Is there a building that you find yourself revisiting repeatedly, because of it’s beautiful and inspiring interiors?

The summer after I graduated college, I came to New York City to take an art history class at Columbia University. I also spent time photographing buildings I had studied. My favorite then and now is the Seagram’s building, designed by Mies van der Rohe. The surfaces are luscious – stone and bronze -- the ceilings soar and the walls are windows. There were always Picasso murals and other art in the public spaces, even in the Four Seasons restaurant. I read recently that the new building owner wants to display his own contemporary art and is removing the 20th century classics. A building needs to evolve, but that hurts.

5) How did you get into interior design? And what is your advice for design students looking to follow in your footsteps?

Both of my parents were interior designers. They owned an upholstery studio in Los Angeles where I spent time as a child. I can still see the upholsterers in their undershirts with sofa frames up on saw horses removing tacks from their mouths with their hammers. There always were fabric sample books with me in the back seat of the car. But my first career was in art galleries. Then I veered off and became a cookbook author, cooking teacher and restaurant critic. I spent a decade as a newspaper editor and only after that went back to school at Parsons for my interior design certificate. After a few detours, I wound up in my parents' business more or less. My advice to students is: take business classes and to develop computer expertise. Clients are very savvy today. They can find anything online. It’s not just about aesthetics or great taste.