Jennifer Wagner Schmidt, one of Badass + Living’s contributors, recently collaborated with the ELEVATE Design Collective on a loft in the trendy neighborhood of SoHo in New York City. As the owner of JWS Interiors, her business takes her all over Washington D.C. and NYC. She invited the Badass Staff to come take a look at the beautiful ELEVATE space which was transformed by six different brands working together. After the event, we spoke with Jennifer to get a bit more information about the project and her involvement in the team.
1 | How did you first get involved with the ELEVATE Design Collective?
In the beginning of the year, Havas Formula, the PR firm representing the ELEVATE Design Collective, called me and said they had six large home décor brands coming together in conjunction with Pantone to renovate a NYC space. They wanted me to be the designer to pull it all together while showcasing each brand’s products in a cohesive way. Needless to say, I was honored they selected JWS Interiors and was thrilled to be a part of the collaboration!
2 | The loft was designed by six different brands that worked together to create a cohesive space. What inspired a collaboration of these different brands to transform this SoHo loft?
The ELEVATE Design Collective was formed in 2015 with the goal of elevating the role of accent products in the interior design conversation. Showcasing each brand’s products in an urban setting in the heart of NYC was an excellent way to reach designers and architects to show how accent décor can really “make” a space.
3 | You did an amazing job (those cabinets were incredible!), can you walk us through the design process and share what role you played?
Thank you so much! This was an amazing project to work on. The high caliber of brands – Delta Faucet, Hunter Fans, Formica, Jeld Wen, Schlage, and Kitchen Aid – made it even more fun and was a great challenge. There were so many aspects of this project that were unique. This included an entirely new way of approaching the design process. I started with each brand’s product and then designed the entire loft from there. I usually don’t design starting with the accent pieces – fans, hardware, faucets, etc. – so this was a fun challenge. After meeting with the brand’s product designers, seeing the space in person, and discussing ideas for our Single Malt custom Pantone color, I thought a Scandinavian look would be beautiful and appropriate for this space. It’s a Soho loft with white walls and white floors, so an organic, textured aesthetic made sense. Once we determined which products we were going to use from each brand, JWS Interiors was able to take off with the overall design.
4 | What was the most rewarding part of the experience?
As with all projects, the most rewarding part is seeing the project come to life after all the hours of coordination, designing, and having the idea in your head for so long. Working with these amazing brands was a great experience and I hope to work with them again soon!
5 | The loft features a beautiful, custom Pantone color, created just for ELEVATE and is included as an accent throughout the design. What was the process like in developing and choosing that color?
It was so much fun visiting the Pantone Color Institute with the brands and learning about color while brainstorming what our custom color would look like. Dubbed “Single Malt,” our custom color was developed after talking about the loft space, wanting the space to feel natural and warm, and bringing about a sense of comfort. The designers went on a field trip around Manhattan to look at different natural colors derived from nature, architecture, clothing, etc. Ultimately, Single Malt was created just for our loft space and we incorporated it in both bold (veining in the Formica counter top) and subtle (thin edge on Jeld Wen doors and paint on part of Schlage locks, Delta faucets) ways.
6 | Often times, when you have a bunch of people all working toward the same goal you can end up with too many cooks in the kitchen. What was the biggest challenge of this project?
The biggest challenge was our short time frame. We had limited time to get everything done, but collectively it all came together!
7 | If you could go back to before this transformation started, what advice would you give yourself?
We had a really short timeline to get everything done and luckily we had an amazing contractor (from Emerald Construction that I’m happy to refer to anyone in NYC!) who was able to truly transform the space. It was certainly stressful at times as with any large project. I think I would tell myself, “take a break and don’t stress over things you ultimately cannot control.”
8 | When we walked through the space I was obsessed with the SIMPLE connect fan by Hunter. I told everyone I knew about it. What is your favorite part of the space?
Ah, yes! Hunter Fans make amazing products and now with the technology capabilities available it really adds to the level of design. I loved all of the loft, but to me the kitchen was the standout. All of the brands had a product in the kitchen area. I think it is successful because anyone could see themselves cooking, entertaining, and really just living in that space. To me, that is what makes it an extraordinary design. I worked with Mary Jo Peterson on the design (she is amazing!) and everything from the tiled wall and tile inside the cabinets, to the gorgeous Kitchen Aid appliances, to the stand-out Formica counter top, it all turned out beautiful, but functional as well.
9 | What advice would you have for other companies who are looking to collaborate in the way that ELEVATE did?
ELEVATE was a success because everyone worked hard and we had a common goal. As with any large project, planning is key and having a long lead time, whenever possible, is really important so that all the components of the collaboration can come together seamlessly.
10 | Finally, one of the things we thought made this space very badass is how open and airy it is. A lot of our readers, especially in New York and London, are working and living in smaller spaces. What are three tips you can share on how to design a small space to give it that loft-like feeling?
1 | Living in a small space requires you to use furniture or other items in the home for multiple purposes. For example, a bar cart is small and can be used as a side table, as storage, or if you have a really small space, it could serve as a mini island in your kitchen!
2 | Keep colors at bay – most lofts use color sparingly – white, gray, and black are typical choices to keep an “open air” feeling.
3 | Since you can’t incorporate a lot of furniture in a small space, it’s important to add in texture. Be sure to add different types of fabrics for pillows, blankets, baskets, and even your rug(s). It makes a big difference.
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