Jessica and I worked together at Western Interiors & Design magazine a few years ago, where I was an editor and she was the art director. Many an afternoon we spent behind her artfully cluttered desk, making the sure her visual presentation of a story was complementary to the words I was smithing. We scrutinized the width of columns, and we ragged each and every line for uniformity and to the best effect, so line breaks didn't give the paragraph a funny shape. We paused frequently to discuss her metallic-pink clogs. And almost always, we reached agreement with smiles and exhalations. Oh, how I miss those afternoons. I also miss her eagle eye and design tutelage, though getting her feedback on these blog pics felt almost like the old days. She'll probably wince looking at this post due to its lack of proper design. Working on it, Jess!
Jessica left WID three years ago and is now working on all sorts of cool projects, including the design of a book about houses by Frank Gehry, coming this fall from Rizzoli. She recently designed the posters and ads for her playwright-sister's Red Fly/Blue Bottle, a dark musical theater extravaganza that opened this week at HERE in NYC. Literary publications like the Journal of Aesthetics & Protest 6 also have her touch. Last but not least, she teaches typography and graphic design at Otis College of Art and Design and USC.
I drove up and down and up and down some big LA hills to reach her home. Surrounded by her wonderful collection of art, quirky objects, design books, a blooming garden, and some freshly baked orange-nutmeg muffins, I allowed myself the ultimate dwelling fantasy--that I would never leave.
StudioA former garage, the building behind the house wasn't accessible by car, anyway, so Jessica upgraded it into a studio. Shelves of books line one wall; along the other, a work table extends the length of the room. Interior walls are raw Homasote, a "low impact, low budget, old-school wall surface made out of pressed recycled paper and has insulating properties," she explains. (Jessica apologizes for what she calls "a mess." I think she's crazy. It looks great--and it's a work space! Can you trust an artist with a perfectly neat studio?) A flowering tree stands just outside. Stacked orange chairs from IKEA, the pink-and-black print above is by Jessica's former student Cheryl Humphreys. Inspiration in objects, print, everyday, everything.
Below, on the shelves, a curated mini-gallery of books with a stack of Jessica's work on the left. The pic with the purple poster is an aerial shot of some of her designs. The magnifying glass, she says, is for looking at bugs. Or maybe it's for soldering small things. Lanterns hang from an old camellia tree, views of Echo Park beyond.
"Dallas-cowboy-cheerleader-meets-pimp" silver boots near the door are by n.d.c. from Barneys, and I love them. The little painting is not of a bird--it's a lovely portrait of Jessica by a disabled elderly man named Willy who had the development of 4-year-old. He was in an art workshop she led in Luxembourg years ago. On the wall, framed works by artists Cynthia Madansky, Olga Koumoundouros and others.
KitchenJessica loves her avocado-green stove. I love her orange-nutmeg muffins! The green-plastic rug was a $5-steal from a Chinese store in L.A.
OfficeJessica, reflected and reflecting, with a cup of green tea. Pink walls, loads of shelves, and two more light boxes--don't you LOVE these??? Her desk. "My monkey!"
Living AreaBelow, prints on the wall are by Felix Gonzales-Torres. Framed print and rolled-newspaper piece by Olga Koumoundours, a friend with whom she sometimes collaborates. The stone walrus is an old family piece, and the colorful feathers are from a Zero + Maria Cornejo sample sale last year. "25 cents each," she says. "Wish I'd gotten more." The "fuck" plate is by James Victore, a gift from the artist after a Sahre, Victore, Wilker workshop last summer. Close-up of a basket-weave lampshade--it's actually plastic--bought at a garage sale. She put a string of lights inside and uses it as a lamp.
BedroomShe says the wall is "tomato-soup-with-a-splash-of-milk" red. On the other wall, the watercolor of a gate in the Cornwall countryside is by Jessica's mom, Elsa Leviseur. Artistic family, no? (WHAT?! Jessica, I just Googled her; you never told me your garden-loving mother was an accomplished architect! All those afternoons I spent at your side, practically in your armpit, and we didn't discuss her work on the Hollywood Bowl?) Another print by Olga Koumoundouros. More inspirations on the table. Jessica loves that the battered clay African warrior figurine is "so beautifully detailed." It's from her South African mom.
BalconyA blue table and white chairs mirror the colors of the sky—the best place in the house to sit and think about your next creative endeavor.