In New Voices, we shine a spotlight on inspiring up-and-coming talent shaping the future of their respective industries. Consider this the new class of creatives.
Growing up, Jessica Schuster was guided toward a strict academic path, but nevertheless, she continually felt the pull of interior design. “I always wanted to do something in a creative field,” she tells Domino. “Where I came from, art school was never really discussed as a possible route for me.” Still, she didn’t make the decision to pursue such a career until college—and it took some convincing.
It was Schuster’s first boss, interior designer Tui Pranich, whom she interned for while studying communications at New York University, who pushed her beyond the comfort zone of her liberal arts education.
“Tui told me that I had natural talent and taste, which was rare, and that this is what I needed to be doing,” Schuster remembers. Buoyed by the praise, she headed to New York’s Parsons School of Design after graduation to study interior design. “It was such a natural fit, and I loved every minute of my education there,” she says. “While I value academic experiences, I ultimately felt that a career in design was a better fit.” For someone as creative as Schuster, Parsons was exactly the right place to nurture her talent uninhibited.
Following her intuition paid off. At 33, the young designer, who has worked for big names like Kelly Wearstler, has multiple restaurant and residential projects, from New York City to Miami, in her portfolio. At this year’s Kips Bay Decorator Show House in Palm Beach, her bold, Yves Klein Blue room (a modern woman’s haven, as she dubs it) exhibited a savoir-faire and discerning eye that has catapulted her career even further. “It was an incredible platform to showcase some of the wild and imaginative concepts floating around in my head,” says Schuster.
Years after she took the leap into interior design, she is proving that this radical move was clearly the right one. As she wraps up a number of large-scale projects worldwide, including a hotel in Miami, the designer gives Domino a glimpse into her world.
What or whom did you want to be when you were growing up?
Dorothy Gale from The Wizard of Oz.
What inspired you as a child?
The outdoors: the beach, the wind, the sun. I’ve always loved the way something so fundamental as light can totally change a landscape or a room. As a designer, I never take nature for granted.
What excites you the most about your job every day?
Being creative and working in a collaborative setting with my team and clients. No two days are ever the same. As daunting as that can sometimes be, it provides a really exhilarating atmosphere for creativity. We have a lot of fun!
What’s the least favorite part of your job?
Billing! I’m sure it’s something my clients would love to live without, too!
If you weren’t an interior designer, and money were no object, what would you want to do?
I’d want to be more active in rescuing animals from shelters and abusive situations.
What’s your favorite method of procrastination?
Browsing Pinterest. It inspires my projects because I’m always finding new inspiration and new vendors. It totally relaxes me. It’s the time when I can shut everything out and be authentically creative.
What’s the one thing you’re pretty much guaranteed to do every day?
On any given day, my team and I look over hundreds of fabric and fixture samples. There is no shortcut to seeing something in the flesh and holding it in your hand. I’m sure I’ll still be doing it in 30 years’ time.
What excites you right now in design?
I’m inspired by J.P. Demeyer and his insane use of color, texture, and patterns. I think he is a genius and has an incredible way of blending genres, not to mention the intricate details he adds to his work. He’s a huge inspiration!
What’s a trend you wish would disappear forever?
The color gray!
If the sky were the limit, where would you want to take your career next?
I’m hoping to create an accessories line in the near future. The first iteration will be an affordable board game concept. I’m obsessed with backgammon and see a need in the marketplace for beautiful yet affordable designs. We are working on a few concepts right now!
What is your dream project?
To collaborate with an iconic architect on a new development project or residential project. Currently, I’m obsessed with the work of Valerio Olgiati, who most recently designed the new Celine stores.
What’s next for Jessica Schuster in 2019?
There are a lot of exciting things in the works. We will be completing a hotel design at the end of 2019 in Miami, as well as some other exciting large-scale residential projects around the world. I can’t wait to share them!
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