JESSICA HALL - Interior Designer to the Rich and Famous by Kaya Morgan
Jessica Hall has been wowing clients in the Bay Area for over two decades with a never ending list of prestigious projects. Whether it's the San Francisco Mayor's Office, historical structures, an Oscar award-winner for the Matrix, a hotel and winery in Sonoma, one of the world's leading small hotels on Union Square, one of the best known blues clubs in America, a top restaurant in the theatre district, or one of the country's most widely-known winemaking families, her clients all have one thing in common — the unique creativity of Jessica Hall.
A self-made woman with an introspective side, Jessica was influenced early on by a life that read more like a movie script. Growing up in a small suburb in Virginia, just outside Washington D.C., her father was head of FBI security for the Pentagon while her mother worked as a guidance counselor. Family weekends were spent entertaining the many visitors and friends from all over the world, as well as touring the monuments, art galleries, or attending the multitude of events centered around the diverse cultural population in our nation's capital.
However, it was the steadfast influence of Jessica's grandmother, Agnes Kennedy, who provided her first exposure to the world of textiles, antiques and fabrics. While her grandfather, a talented painter and muralist for churches, was off to work, Agnes, would take Jessica along to the auction houses. There they would bid on the many items of random furniture and unclaimed, sealed trunks from around the globe. The trip home was always filled with anticipation since the trunks were often stuffed with dresses, clothes and other textiles, left behind by hasty travelers. For Jessica, they were a source of inspiration, often made up of intriguing design and color combinations that helped lead to her own sense of style in blending colors with culture.
After high school, Hall headed for Europe. With lots of family friends to visit, her travels were more like a pilgrimage to some of the most architecturally beautiful, historic and artistically diverse areas found in the world, eventually taking her as far as Morocco and Tibet. “I was inundated by the cultural differences of various color palates. People's color sense is 100% contingent on where they grew up, and what the light was like there,” she says. “Knowing how people see so differently has helped me recognize how my client's experiences, history, and travel have all influenced their design preferences.” This unique insight is, no doubt, one of the many reasons why her every-expanding client base remains fiercely loyal.
Upon completion of studies from the University of California at Berkeley, one of the largest architectural and design groups in San Francisco, Environmental Planning & Research, hired Hall. With 45 designers, and 45 architects on staff, she had the advantage of working on some of the biggest and best projects in the Bay Area. “I was fortunate in that I was well liked and some of the staff took me under their wing, mentoring me with a wealth of practical information about the business,” says Hall. “But, I was truly lucky when Beverly Thom, the famous colorist, who eventually became a designer for Nike, and other large textile manufacturers, had me assigned to some of the best new projects,” she goes on to say. “Eileen Gray, a very early, top female architect, was also a huge influence on me because she demonstrated how far a woman could go in this industry.”
Being a career, single mom with three daughters was challenging but Hall wasn't deterred. Eventually, with determination and the support of clients, she set out on her own as Jessica Hall Associates, and has not looked back. “It's been a real source of recognition to have repeat clients that come back again and again, after 2 years, 5 years, or more,” states Hall. “We became deeply involved in Old World interiors with its many aspects prior to it becoming such a huge trend. Our jobs were finished, being shown, and photographed when there was nothing in that venue around. And now, we've helped pioneer that trend from architecture into interiors as well. To be at the front of a wave like that, and to have developed a stable of Old World artisans and craftsman with a high level of expertise, I consider a big accomplishment. Even our best contemporary projects, as avant-guarde as they might be, still stem from classic designs based in Old World architectural history,” she goes on to say. That may be one of the secrets to why her contemporary designs remain so timeless.
Another important aspect of the business that Hall considers basic is to keep things in writing. “The design process is so complex that people need a clear place they know as their starting point. Good documentation helps map the creative process through the many layers of visualization so that clients do not get confused by the complexity of the moment,” Hall says. “We get so many jobs that are re-doing what another designer has done merely because they did not really listen to the client. Being able to see into a client's vision, and make sure it's incorporated into the overall project, as well as not restrict a client by their own limitations — then going 10 steps beyond — can make the difference between a mediocre project and one that the client will be ecstatic over for years to come,” she states.
As the former President of the Board on the California Council for Interior Design Certification, Hall has become almost an institution in the San Francisco design industry. Her in-house staff has completed projects in Paris, Athens, London, Cairo, Beirut, Manhattan and Beverly Hills. The firm's Northern California commercial projects include upscale restaurants, hotels, offices, and banks, as well as many private residences for an elite clientele. Their work has been showcased in Design Times, California Home & Design, Northern California – Home & Garden, Veranda, and Sunset magazines, along with special features on HGTV and The Food Network. Jessica Hall is excited to bring fresh, new ideas, boundless talent, and a vision highly focused on developing the ever-changing face of Las Vegas.
For more information on Jessica Hall Associates, contact the San Francisco office at 415.461.0588, Las Vegas 702.876.5576; or e-mail them at Alia@JessicaHallAssociates.com
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