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TALKS with JESSICA LAGRANGE                                           View in your browser

Jessica Lagrange
Founder and President



Jessica Lagrange established her namesake, full-service interior architecture and design firm in 1998. Today, her practice is recognized for creating and executing sophisticated luxury projects that maintain the highest standards of excellence; embrace a wide range of periods and styles; and adeptly reflect the wants, needs and lifestyles of a diverse clientele. Jessica is known for her principled approach to design, which embraces collaboration, transparency and a deep commitment to personal service.

How did you get started in design?
It was sheer luck. Halfway through college, I still couldn’t pick a major. So I came home and got a job in the resource library at SOM, where I was seduced by colors and textures of all the materials. I went back to school and got an interior design degree at SAIC, and now I always laugh when I hear that saying, “follow your passion.”

What’s your motto in design?
To paraphrase the famed graphic designer Milton Glaser, “Yes, no and wow. Aim for wow!”

Do you have any favorite materials?
That’s like asking who’s your favorite child!  There’s no such thing, but right now I’m infatuated with wide plank floors and fabrics by Tonyne Sellers.

Has the role of the kitchen changed a lot since you started designing?
Absolutely.  They’ve changed dramatically.  What was once a single-purpose workroom is now the most versatile, vital and hardworking space in a home because we use it for almost everything. 

How do you see the integration of technology with the kitchen?
I find it as astounding as driverless cars. Your appliances can even order your groceries! And who needs cookbooks anymore? All you need is WiFi and an iPad.

Who is your favorite architect?
That’s back to the favorite child syndrome. I appreciate the “wow moments” in so many people’s work that I couldn’t pick just one—especially living in Chicago, where we have so many of the best architects in the world. When you’re used to greats like Wright and Mies, not to mention our current crop of starchitects like Jeanne Gang, Adrian Smith, Ralph Johnson and more, there’s no right answer to that…no pun intended.

What is your favorite building?
At the moment, I’m really smitten with the Hancock Building, which was one of the first multiuse buildings in the nation. It’s a fantastic place to live because it’s like a city unto itself—which is great given our winters. But we’re doing a project there right now and I’m awed by how well it has stood the test of time. It’s still powerful, elegant and exquisitely proportioned.                
        
The Hancock Building 

What is your favorite destination?
Forte dei Marmi in Tuscany. With its beautiful beaches and laid-back ambiance, it’s so alluring and idyllic that I go every year.
        

Who is your favorite photographer?
Annie Liebovitz, who is a major talent and also recognizes talent, since my son is one of her production assistants.

What’s your source of inspiration?
Everything! The world is an astonishingly rich environment full of wonders that never seem to cease.  

What do you surround yourself with at home?
I live in a Louis Sullivan row house, which is very elegant but compact, so I have to curate my possessions and make choices.  I have several significant collections, but the one that’s most fun is my bracelets. I store them in baskets on my dressing table.

Do you like cooking?
I love cooking.  My specialty is orecchiette with sausage, rapini and red chili flakes. I like it really spicy.  Then I make a Pavlova for dessert. The meringue is super-impressive but super-easy to make, looks fantastic and tastes even better.