WELD Artist of the Week: Jen Mauldin
Career: Designer [Extraordinaire]
Mantra: Beautiful design should not steal from the earth’s beauty.
Interview by: Kristin Read
What made you first realize you wanted to pursue a career in design?
I’ve wanted to be an architect since I was in the 7th grade and have always been drawn to the creative: art, building structures, etcetera. As a child, I enjoyed driving through downtown, naturally curious about skyscrapers, and various types of art forms. It’s another reason I enjoyed visiting Northpark mall, as odd as that sounds, I was intrigued by the installments by Raymond Nasher. Bear in mind, I wasn’t taken to museums at a young age—so I was infatuated with the art, sculptures, and architecture found in malls—if it meant that was the only art I was exposed to.
Was your career path planned? Did you expect to be where you are today?
To some extent, no. Originally, I came into this field as an architect and really had no desire to go into interior design. I felt design was a vocation that women pursued, and a career path that men pushed us towards. So, very early in my career, I really “rebelled” against the idea of becoming an interior designer. But after going through various firms, teaching art at a Montessori school, designing jewelry, and a tough economy, I started to pursue design work. Ten years ago, I was fortunate enough to find a firm that was hiring, and went into the job really unsure what I was getting into. Fortunately, I found myself working for an extremely successful design firm that creates spaces for five and six star hospitality resorts … And that’s where I’ve stayed ever since. A couple years into this new design realm, I realized I was there for a reason: Yes, hospitality is exhaustive of the land it occupies and leaves a rather large footprint, but by refocusing my mission instead to making hospitality “green”—I realized that’s where I can make a difference. As of late, I’ve transitioned into a contract position with my firm to pursue a Masters and PhD in Sustainable Interiors, with the hopes to teach the craft at a college level. To this day, I’ve never really seen myself designing hotels and resorts—but I have to admit, I’ve fallen in love with it.
If you had to describe your work in 3–4 words, what would you call it?
Sustainable. Luxury. Design.
What keeps you awake at night?
Work! I really enjoy working out of the WELD space, but I feel like the majority of my inspiration comes to me at night. You’ll find me working until 4a.m., and jumping out of bed at 10a.m. to go at it again. Being a perfectionist about my work doesn’t help.On top of that, I have ideas running through my head constantly, and I want to get them down on paper.
If you could take a time machine 10 years into the future, what would you expect to have changed in the design world?
I think we’re already seeing it actually—the shift in the design world from unnecessary waste towards sustainability and being environmentally friendly. My passion is the interior environmental: What we’re breathing in everyday … The chemicals found in paint, dyes, carpets, glues, fabrics, and special finishes are affecting our health, whether we realize it or not. I feel as though we are somewhat conscious about this in the design world at the moment, and designers are starting to alter their work as consciousness spreads. But a lot of this change is actually consumer driven—when buyers start requiring more energy efficient and environmentally-friendly materials, the industry as a whole while change for the better.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in the past 12 months?
Not to doubt myself. If I work hard enough, it can be done.
Do you have any unusual traditions associated with the design process? Any magic hat, or special socks you have to wear?
HA! Umm, no. I’m really not superstitious at all. But, I have been weaving red electrical cords into all my designs as of late … Making function a part of the design.
What phrase do you overuse?
The Design is in the Details.