Joanne Jordan: Food and Shelter

JoanneWith a focus on the connection between food and the shelter, Joanne Jordan has become one of the leading designers in the Northeast, especially when it comes to designing everyone’s favorite room.

What are some of the first things you try to notice when meeting a new client at their space? Do you have a checklist, or is it a meet and greet to feel out their personality?

Sometimes the space isn’t even built yet, so while it’s exciting, there’s little to notice. However, the most important items that really stand out to me when meeting someone new isn’t design or industry–specific, it’s how compatible, personable and comfortable we will be as a collaborative team working together towards something spectacular.

Working as a designer is committing to a career filled with difficult challenges. Which problems do you face most often? Clients or space? Do you have a method to work through those problems?

Each project comes with its own unique set of challenges.  Some associated with logistics or space, some associated with, at times, the client.  My method, which has always served me well, has remained constant for the 25 plus years I have owned my own firm – and that is to be patient, professional and handle things as openly and with as much diplomacy as possible.

Design shows are very popular on television right now. How have they influenced your business? In what ways do your clients now interact with you that they might not have before the popularity of the shows?

A lot of my clients will get ideas from another kitchen they saw, not necessarily on a show or on television, but maybe a magazine or while at a party at another house.  I think these shows enable do-it-yourself types with ideas that can fall within a variety of budgets, which is certainly raising awareness for the overall industry.  Yet, we offer a lot more than just designing a kitchen. We offer our expertise, our industry knowledge and an overall experience from the very first conversation and sketch to the last cabinet being placed in the finished product. I don’t think that translates into a popular show, but its what makes us as successful as we are.

From the outside it seems like the Philadelphia area focuses on incorporating it’s rich history into many designs! Is that something many clients want? Describe if/how you might incorporate a sense of history into your designs.

Some clients love the look of a grandiose, traditional space but I’ve also worked on many landmarked townhouses in Center City that end up contemporary and urban.  I try to be as flexible as I can with understanding the client’s needs and incorporate a variety of styles as a result of those needs. If it happens to marry both historical and modern or contemporary and traditional, we certainly strive to achieve just that by, for instance, using different woods or marbles with stainless steel or taking advantage of an exposed beam in a unique and interesting way.

Do you have a design project you are most proud to have completed? What did it look like before? After?

Honestly, I would say we’re proud of all of our projects so it’s difficult for me to decide.  However, one project that was very personal to me included an entire ground-up redesign of my husband’s family home in Canada.  We built the new house on the original footprint, visually played upon on the former layout in a modern way and interior design-wise, incorporated a number of family antiques and local and environmental elements in the décor.

We love rugs. Can you take us through how you use area rugs in your designs? Are there designs where you’re more likely to use a rug? Less?

I’ve used runners in kitchens. I’m less inclined to use rugs in bathrooms. I’ve never understood it. I’m particularly fond of sisal despite it not being the most comfortable to walk on In fact, a running joke in our family is my firstborn son skipped the crawling process and went directly to walking because we don’t think he liked the sisal rubbing on his knees!

Which area rugs do you find most durable? Least durable?

Persian area rugs although expensive, are beautiful and sturdy.  Like a well fitting piece of clothing, they always look timeless and terrific. Bamboo rugs also hold up nicely and look sharp and there are many indoor/outdoor brands that look indoor, but hold up amazingly because they are meant for outdoor use.

We know as well as anyone that rugs can be expensive. Any assistance on how to cut down on the initial price?

Pretty much like anything.  The bigger the room, house, etc. the more expensive it gets.  Rugs are no exception to that rule.  To cut down on price, find a smaller rug that is still a quality product as opposed to trying to find a bigger one made more cheaply. It shows and won’t last as long anyway.

Thanks for your time today! Any more hints for our readers

Don’t be afraid to be opinionated and communicate with the designer and architect you choose to work with and enjoy the process!

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