DESIGN VOICES – Spring

Designer on Designers: 2Michaels Design

By Chris Roughan, Roughan Interior Design

Twin Sisters Create Simplicity Inspired by Glamor and Intelligence

I had the pleasure of meeting Jayne and Joan Michaels, founders and principals of New York City-based interior design firm 2Michaels, LLC, when my home office was also based there in the early 2000’s. We met at an industry party in Soho, a book signing for Shane Reilly’s first book, “Inspired High End Interior Design,” in which we were both included. It was soon after we had both also been published in Quest Magazine. Their statuesque elegance and warm appreciation of people were immediate and highly-inviting attractions.

After chatting with them, I noticed that those gifts translated throughout their featured project in Shane’s book. The space was beautiful yet thoughtfully simple, a simplicity that appeared effortless. I know now that anything in design that appears simple most of the time is not. In fact, the more simplistic something appears to be is often the result of a most arduous journey. Knowing this, made it particularly enjoyable to speak again with Jayne and Joan and to tell their story.

Photo courtesy of Trevor Tondro

It’s quite clear that the 2Michaels’ past has greatly influenced their present design aesthetic. They are truly unique and the familial aspect of being identical twins is just the tip of the iceberg. Their journey has been glamorous, intelligent and meaningful guided by their passions for travel, architecture and design.

It began as children living in Utah with a beautiful, bohemian mother who was an artist and father who was, literally, a rocket scientist and engineer for NASA. Their influences taught the girls to tune in, listen to their own voices and take a stand when needed. When they were very young, the inspiring Utah landscape provided a wholesome environment, however the culture was a bit homogenous and the family moved on.

Their mother was a Palm Springs, California native and was excited to relocate the family to her home town. Palm Springs in the 1970’s was filled with Rolls Royces and second homes for Hollywood celebrities and execs.

Photo courtesy of Trevor Tondro

A predominant architectural style in the area was known as “Desert Modernism,” a movement that started in the 1940’s and continued into the 70’s, with California architects adapting Bauhaus inspiration to the desert. Such well known architects as Richard Neutra, John Lautner and Donald Wexler, among many others, were responsible for beautiful homes the girls either lived in or near – including that of their next-door neighbor, Bob Hope.

Jayne recalls walking by these buildings every day thinking, in disbelief, that they were from another planet. The clean, crisp lines and textural elements the architects applied to building and landscape were unknowingly influencing both girls throughout their high school days in Palm Springs.

Christina Roughan
Roughan Interior Design
Weston, CT / New York City
www.roughaninteriors.com

Editor’s Note: Welcome to Designer on Designers, a KLAFFStyle column by designer Christina Roughan of Roughan Interiors. As an interior designer for more than 20 years, Chris has met and collaborated with some of the best-known design professionals in the industry. She is, in fact, a designer’s designer, having completed commercial and/or residential assignments for Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Donna Karan, Takashimaya and many other noted clients. Chris will be interviewing her colleagues from the designer’s point of view and sharing their design insights.

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Photos courtesy of Eric Laignel

The girls went on to college at UCLA. During that time, a scout approached the tall and striking young women to model fashion in Italy. It was an interesting invitation — so they accepted.

While in Italy, they found themselves surrounded by, studying and conversing with architects and interior designers. Their discussions were always about a piece of furniture made or a structure completed by famed Italian architects and design influencers like Franco Albini and Carlo Scarpa.

The women soon realized that fashion modeling was not their calling — and that interior design and architecture was!  After being in Italy for a number of years, Joan and Jayne landed in New York to study interior design at Parsons and FIT, respectively. After graduation, Jayne worked for Simone Feldman and Victoria Hagen designing interiors and Joan worked for Ronald Boris Architect in Soho. In 2001, they started 2Michaels LLC and the company has been gaining press and attention ever since.

Photo courtesy of Eric Laignel

The 2Michaels style can be described as Italian cinematic classic modernism. It’s infused with midcentury American and European furnishings along with textural objects, wall coverings and lighting. They are all about the exploration — from how a piece looks in one direction vs another, while keeping the functionality and comfort of a room intact.

To them, each room is special and represents their client while softly infusing their own style. Their work spans the globe from New York City to LA, Michigan and Italy. In addition to residential work, they’ve participated in commercial design and architecture ventures, including law offices. When designing commercial spaces, they bring in elements of home to create a warm, familiar feeling in these places where people often spend more time than they do at home. Each space is carefully curated.

Photo courtesy of Trevor Tondro

Recently, they’ve begun working with real estate developers on high end, ground-up projects. New York developer Richard Pandiscio approached 2Michaels to work with his firm on three projects with Flank Architects, also based in New York. There were other designers in the running so his request was to have the selected designers create a presentation from which he would choose the designer that would fit best.

Photo courtesy of Eric Laignel

At the end of a laborious, competitive interview process, the 2Michaels were selected. It became obvious that 2Michaels was the right choice when the luxury ventures in New York City and Miami sold out within nine months.

What’s on the horizon for these design ‘Wonder Women’? They have a wonderful project in Sutton Place in Manhattan and a dream come true working with model-turned-architect Robin Osler on a project at 83rd Street and 5th Avenue. I am so looking forward to seeing these projects when completed. Love these ladies!

Photo courtesy of Douglas Friedman

To see more of Jayne & Joan Michaels’ portfolio, please visit www.2michaelsdesign.com.

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