Thursday, August 6, 2015

From Greece, Japan and Ireland to Alabama and Atlanta... The Love of Design Flourishes with Jackye Lanham

Who knew that growing up as a military brat moving all over the country and the world could set someone up for finding their vocation, particularly if they weren’t destined to join the army? In Jackye Lanham’s case it did just that. Growing up in places like Greece, Japan, Washington, DC, Oregon and North Carolina, among others, certainly exposes one to a wide variety of cultures. With those cultures and geographies come vast differences in architecture and design and just by osmosis one can pick up a sense style. And with Jackye it stuck… and led right to Queens College in Charlotte.

According to the Census Bureau, three quarters of college graduates don’t work in their major. That’s often because students study a subject right out of high school, get their book education and then discover that the real world application is frequently much different. That’s not Jackye. After a year at Queens College she transferred to the University of Alabama when her Army father became the Commanding Officer of the university’s ROTC program (Reserve Officers Training Corps). And indeed she graduated from Alabama with her BA in Interior Design.

Upon graduation and after a short stop in Birmingham Jackye and her Army JAG husband Bill – yes, like the one on TV, but landlocked – moved to the Ft. MacPherson Army Post in Atlanta. Once here she took a job at a small interior design firm where she spent two years learning the ropes. She decided to go back to school and enrolled at Georgia State with the plan of getting her masters. In typical fashion it didn’t take her long to figure out that learning by doing was far more educational and fulfilling than reading about what you’re supposed to be doing, so she jumped back into the world of work. Here she landed with a two person antique furniture and wholesale firm who sold antiques, wicker and rattan to the design community. She loved it… and spent 13 years there! (And, incidentally that’s where she was when she first met Hugh and Angie, who were still selling at shows and out of their very scary warehouse in Jacksonville!)

One of the great upsides of this job was that Jackye became a world traveler once again as she went to places like Spain, the Philippines, Hong Kong, England and France to work with locals to manufacture wicker furniture and accessories. More art than interior design, she would watch as the craftsmen and artisans brought her designs to life. The beauty of being right there in the weaver’s workrooms was that if a piece didn’t come out exactly as she had envisioned, she could make adjustments right on the spot so that they were perfect before they went into large production runs.

L to R the Ladies of Lanham Designs:
Liz, Amy, Jackye & Jennifer
As fulfilling as that work was, the pure notion of interior design was never far from her mind, and she’d long thought about hanging out her own shingle. The timing seemed right when some friends lured her back into the business as they wanted her to design a new house they were moving into. Soon thereafter she took the leap and purchased the building on East Paces Ferry Road that Jacquelynne P Lanham Designs, Inc. calls home today.

Of course, as we all know, Interior Design is not exactly a cookie cutter business. Sometimes there’s just a room that needs to be decorated, other times a house needs a complete makeover and other times you’re designing while the project is being built! While she loves all sorts of design work, Jackye’s favorite pursuit is the latter… forming a team and starting from scratch. That team includes an architect, a builder, a designer… and of course the client. The thing she loves about such ground up endeavors is that as the interior designer she’s intimately involved with everything associated with the overall project. That was exactly the case when she worked with the builder and architect in designing the spectacular Doonberg Golf Club in Ireland. She did such a great job that the club was purchased last year by a certain presidential candidate who’s known for firing people, putting his name in gold on the side of buildings and operating exclusive golf courses. If he wins maybe she can ride on Air Force One with him the next time he flies into Doonbeg – on the west coast of Ireland – to check on things.

Apparently Jackye’s pretty good with golf clubs because she just won the 2015 Shutze Award for Commercial Interior Design from the prestigious Institute of Classical Architecture & Art. (Applause goes here!) The award was for her work on The River Course at the Kiawah Island Club in South Carolina.

Another aspect of design Jackye likes is when a room or a house tells a story, where the pieces, rather than being limited to one particular style or period, are suffused with stories that bring them together to create a vibrant tapestry of life such as a 19th century gentleman traveler might collect. In creating such rooms or homes this organized disorder makes them more approachable and more livable than they might be if they were constricted by a narrow style or period.

Watson & Elliott hard at work!
When she’s not busy designing – which, with up to 10 or 20 projects going on simultaneously isn’t often – she and Bill like to travel with their favorite companions Watson & Elliott, their second pair of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. (They came by the first pair in Umbria, Italy when a friend with six of them suggested they contact her UK. They did just that… albeit in the middle of the night after a few too many glasses of Sagrantino.) Besides their hideaways in Jacksonville and Charleston, their favorite places to visit are the United Kingdom, London in particular, and Italy… pretty much anywhere. (Shouldn’t France be on this list???)

Although she’s been doing interior design for some time, she has no plans to slow down anytime soon. In addition to projects in and around Atlanta, she’s currently working on projects across the globe, including one in Hawaii, another in Harbor Springs, Michigan, another in San Francisco, soon to be joined by a new project in Cashiers, North Carolina. So the next time you’re in the airport and see a stylish woman holding two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, say hello, it’s likely to be Jackye on her way to scout out a new project.

1 comment:

  1. Such an honor to work with Jackye on some of these projects! #wyattchildsinc