September 29, 2016

Q&A with Interior Designer Jenny Dina Kirschner

Jenny Dina Kirschner, of the eponymous design firm, opens up about her background, sources of inspiration, and what she is working on now.

by New York Spaces

Design on a Dime Vignette by Jenny Dina Kirschner.
Holiday House Vignette by Jenny Dina Kirschner. Photograph by Marco Ricca.
Jenny Dina Kirschner.
Jenny Dina Kirschner.

NYS: When and why did you found your design firm, Jenny Dina Kirschner?

Jenny Dina Kirschner: I founded my firm back in 2006, after I had moved back from London and had worked for some other designers. I studied and worked in fine arts for many years, and my career just naturally led me down the interior design path.

NYS: If you had to pick a design style, what would you pick and why?

Jenny Dina Kirschner: As in all of my work, I have a very difficult time choosing one particular style. I enjoy mixing various aesthetics and styles together to create spaces that somehow feel unique and not obvious, yet also cohesive. There should always be a surprise in each space or design. I suppose if I had to choose one style, it would have to be Midcentury because I have loved everything Midcentury for as long as I can possibly remember. I find it interesting and filled with personality, yet simple, clean and not fussy.

NYS: What are your favorite types of projects?

Jenny Dina Kirschner: I love a complete gut renovation job where I can play a role in designing the entire project from the very beginning, especially where there are kitchens and bathrooms for me to get my hands on.

NYS: Yea or Nay on mixing high/low designs? Why so?

Jenny Dina Kirschner: Yea! There is a place for both high and low designs and it's all about how you work both

Jenny Dina Kirschner.
Holiday House Vignette by Jenny Dina Kirschner.
Photograph by Marco Ricca.

elements into an overall scheme. "Low design" has made the interior design world more accessible to everyone, and you no longer have to be wealthy to have a beautifully decorated home. On the one hand, there is something wonderful about that accessibility, but on the flip side, and as a designer with a classical fine arts background, it's sometimes sad and disheartening to see so many classic designs knocked off in such obvious ways. However, I love being able to offer nicely "low" designed pieces to some of my clients who are working with a more limited budget.

NYS: Who is one of your favorite designers (past or present) and why?

Jenny Dina Kirschner: I adore anything by Ian Schrager. Even as a young art student, I recall being influenced by his uniquely designed spaces and boutique hotels—I spent countless evenings with friends at the Delano in Miami during the late 90's, always dreaming that I'd one day live in such a space! Shrager's design juxtapositions are so unexpected, and his use of wild objects, art and accents does not in the least bit take a way from his clean, architectural aesthetic. Ian Shrager will forever be classic in my world.

NYS: What would your dream project be?

Jenny Dina Kirschner: A restoration and interior renovation of an old home in Tuscany or in the French countryside—and then I would want to live in it!

NYS: What does your home look like?

Design on a Dime Vignette by Jenny Dina Kirschner.
Design on a Dime Vignette by Jenny Dina Kirschner in collaboration
with fashionista Iris Apfel. Photograph by Ryan Dausch.

Jenny Dina Kirschner: I live in a lofty bright space with twenty-eight-foot ceilings. I have a ten-foot by eight-foot vintage chandelier that once hung in an Amsterdam church, hanging between my living room and dining room areas. Other than some wall coverings here and there, the space itself is mostly white with clean, simple architectural elements, some glass rooms, some unusual marble, a funky mix of warm textiles and vintage furniture, and lots of crazy, colorful conceptual art (some of which are personal works dating back to the time I spent at the Art Institute of Chicago in the mid 1990's).

NYS: What project have you most recently worked on? Can you describe it?

Jenny Dina Kirschner: I most recently completed an apartment at 56 Leonard Street, the new Jenga game-looking building designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architects Herzog & de Meuron. The 1,000-square-foot space has ten-foot ceilings and the exterior wall spanning the forty-foot length of the apartment is entirely floor-to-ceiling glass. I allowed the natural white oak floors that had already been installed by the developer and the wonderful indirect light from the floor to ceiling glass to dictate my choice of color scheme in the space. It ended up having a soft, airy and soothing Scandinavian color palette, with subtle hints of color throughout. Since each space in the apartment was not large, I used modern and basic furniture designs upholstered in luxurious, yet simple textiles so that no one item would fight another. We installed a spectacular kitchen island with an integrated dining table in the open kitchen area that truly made the apartment feel complete.

NYS: What are you working on now?

Design on a Dime Vignette by Jenny Dina Kirschner.
Holiday House Vignette by Jenny Dina Kirschner.
Photograph by Marco Ricca.

Jenny Dina Kirschner: I'm currently working on a Brooklyn townhouse in my very own Prospect Heights neighborhood, and I'm about to start demo on an exciting large gut renovation in Long Island. I'm also adding the final touches to my own home, which started off as a complete gut job over a year ago!

NYS: You have worked on projects in various locations. If you could pick a year out of your life to spend on a project, where would it be and why?

Jenny Dina Kirschner: Assuming I could take my kids and husband with me, I would love to move back to London for a year to work on a great project, and to even collaborate with some old colleagues who still live over there, and whom I miss dearly. I would have so much fun showing my family my interior design roots, traveling all over Europe again on the weekends with them, and designing with old friends during the week!

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