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Publication Date: 2019-06-19

Behind the Design

Designer Jana Magginetti's Comfortable Elegance

Designers know more than most that within a certain context, anything can be beautiful. "I keep my eyes open all the time," says designer Jana Magginetti, explaining how she searches for inspiration. Here, Magginetti tells us about the value of a strong accessory, the "elegant edge" of the San Francisco design world, and the easy transitions that help make a space ready for summer.

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Kathryn MacDonald Photography

Q: How would you describe your style?

A: One of the most important things is that it is thoughtful. I love the process of collaboration with my clients. Overall, people have described my style as being comfortable yet elegant, layered, and textured. And I like it to be well-edited and have a lived-in look. I do take a lot of time working with accessories, and I make sure, when we develop the budget, that it includes that. You can buy beautiful pieces of furniture, and then without accessories, it looks flat. I think I’m also known for my fabrics. I love unique fabrics that my clients have never seen before.

Thibault Cartier

Q: What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in the design world?

A. There are a lot of challenges, like daily things. It really comes down to communication, with vendors, clients, and contractors, whether it’s about trying to convey your aesthetic or vision. I make sure my clients understand the process and are aware that we’ll run into certain things during construction. Education is part of the process for clients, education about the process and quality. A lot of my clients aren’t exposed to high-end products, so I tell them what lasts, what won’t.

Kathryn McDonald Photography

Q: Where do you find inspiration?

A: Most people talk about nature and travel, and I find inspiration there too, but I keep my eyes open all the time. I watch the way Nature creates colors together. Also, I have about a thousand shelter books, and I just look at other designers’ work when I’m stuck on a certain issue or need help with architecture, finishes, or built-ins, I just peruse books. And those images also help communicate the vision I’m trying to achieve as well.

Thibault Cartier

Q: Do you have a favorite trend right now?

A. I’m not really a trends person. One of the things I really like that is going on now is the exposure of design, and how people are starting to understand how it affects how we live. Great design really affects how you feel in your home, physically and emotionally. It doesn’t have to be expensive. It’s just thoughtful and put together well. We have a hospital up here in Monterey that has fabulous artwork, for example. A lot of times when people visit me, I take them up there just to see it.

Kathryn MacDonald Photography

Q: Where are your favorite places to shop in San Francisco?

A. The San Francisco Designer Center is one. I’ve been to a lot of design centers, and I like how cohesive it is there, how well-edited and small. Almost anything on Sacramento Street, like MARCH, Hudson Grace, and Sue Fisher King.

Thibault Cartier

Q: How do you think San Francisco design impacts the design world as a whole?

A. Design here has just kind of blossomed in the last 20 years. I see more San Francisco designers getting press, especially like Ken Fulk, and some of the up-and-coming people. I think SF design has an edge, but it’s an elegant edge. It’s not gonna be here today, gone tomorrow. I think it is long-lasting. Especially in the Napa Valley, people use a lot of texture and different materials, and they are really inventive with the materials they use.

Thibault Cartier

Q: What are easy ways to update a space for summer?

A: Cleaning house, editing out things. To me, summer represents a clean look. It’s nice to move things around and take away a few accessories — just make it simpler. I’ve had clients who have wanted me to do a different set of pillows or slipovers for summer. A lot depends on if you have a pool or are at the beach, because you’ll definitely get more wear-and-tear from sand or wet children running around.

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