Anastasia Casey 00:00:08 Hello and welcome back to the Interior Collective, a podcast for the business of beautiful living. I'm your host, Anastasia Casey, and I cannot believe we are already dropping Season three. What began as a passion project has exploded into a massive online community that extends to every continent. We are so grateful you are here and are so excited to bring you more in-depth actionable, specific details about the inside of home. Today we are back with a fan favorite Jake Arnold. Just in time for the drop of his first book, redefining Comfort on the tail of his global cover story with Arch Digest, Jake is breaking down his design process, working with the likes of John Legend and Christy Teigen, how his first of a kind cover hit all seven international Arch digest markets and how you can translate his celebrity status to your own interior design firm. Hello Jake Arnold and welcome back to the show. I cannot believe I get you for a second time.
Jake Arnold 00:01:08 Oh my God, thank you for having me. I thought I would never be asked back <laugh> <laugh>.
AC 00:01:12 No. Still one of my favorite episodes to date. So if you missed the first one, it's in the show notes and you can click back and listen. It will change your life. But we have-
JA 00:01:20 How long? How long ago did we do that?
AC 00:01:22 It was like 18 months ago.
JA 00:01:25 Oh my god. Wait, that’s crazy.
AC 00:01:26 Isn’t that so wild?
JA 00:01:27 Yeah, that is crazy.
AC 00:01:29 And like we've done two Design Camps together and that's like two years and I feel like it's been the most like pinnacle two years. Although I say that and the next time I talk to you you're gonna be like next level or next level level <laugh>. But it's just been such an incredible time to feel like I like got in your door to like start to chat about these things and get into your incredibly beautiful brain.
JA 00:01:50 No, I mean it's always been so fun. I've loved talking to you and doing the Design Camps. It's been so much fun and just like a completely new experience for me on the other side of things. So I've loved it. It's been so fun.
AC 00:02:04 I still to this day get dms and get emails from people saying how when they think about your keynote, like hairs stand up on the back of their neck and I just think we'll cover so much in today's show. But like there's something about being in that private room at Design Camp where we can get just a little
JA 00:02:23 Crazy thing happened that you don't know about guys. Very crazy.
AC 00:02:28 So wild. Well let's get to your big news because something so major came out last week. Your project for Chrissy Teigen and John Legend is on the cover of all seven International Arch Digest covers. It is the first time Arch Digest has shared the same project across all publications. What is this moment to you?
JA 00:02:53 <laugh>? I mean honestly, I don’t know what this moment is. It's something that is so overwhelming but in the best way and I'm just, no, it's a, it's a huge pinch me moment and a moment to just take it all in and realize that all of the hard work has really come to fruition. And just to, to not only have it on the cover of Architectural Digest with an amazing client who I love and had an amazing experience with, but to have it internationally recognized and appreciated is so good. I mean it just happens. So we're still, I haven't even, still haven't even got the actual hard copies of the international ones. That's how new it is.
AC 00:03:33 Oh my gosh.
JA 00:03:34 So it's all happening but it's so exciting. It's so rewarding to have an opportunity like that with people that you respect and for a publication that you respect and it's just a, it's a real big milestone that I'm taking in <laugh>.
AC 00:03:50 Well congratulations. It's so amazing. The project is spectacular. My personal favorite moment is actually on the AD YouTube channel, the video walkthrough and it's so sweet. <laugh> when their kid goes, Jake did a good job.
JA 00:04:07 Oh my God. Yeah, itt was, we were, we were dying at that and I honestly can't believe they got it on film 'cause I, when it happened, I didn't realize they were still felt like they had the voice recording still and we were all dying A) because what child knows even what I'm doing < --
-- laugh>, like I didn't even realize he was aware of the concept that like someone is designing this space and it was just like stuff like that is what I live for. It's just like the fun joy of the end result of all the blood, sweat and tears and like that's the best. So funny.
AC 00:04:37 Well those kid rooms are just so freaking fun, the whole space. But I was like I'll just live in the kid's room. It's fine
JA 00:04:43 <laugh>. I know.
AC 00:04:46 So, I am curious <laugh> like how did you make that happen the first time to have all covers unanimously? Like how did that convo evolve from Hey we wanna put you on the cover to hey we want you to go on the Global covers.
JA 00:05:04 So I mean well the conversation started generally that we were gonna do a cover and the team Architectural Digest, Amy Asley, Alison the Vassar and Mayor Russ and everyone was, it was this constant conversation that eventually they kind of presented to me and it was a huge deal. Like I thought they were joking. I was like, what do you mean you've never done a global cover since Architectural Digest was bought? Like that's never happened. And so it was this back and forth for a while and then everything got confirmed and I didn't even realize that we were gonna do different covers per magazine. And that was the cool part that every country gave its own spin. Mm-hmm <affirmative> given the market, which was really fun to see. So it was a back and forth conversation and because it was new for them too, I was so excited that they were so excited about it and it was just special. It was just the day even doing the shoot, it was so memorable and exciting to just have that energy in the room and just working on something that was so meaningful and such a great like couple to do it with of people that I've genuinely had the best time during the process and for them to have that moment too is so exciting. So forever grateful honestly.
AC 00:06:19 Was this your first project with Chrissy and John?
JA 00:06:23 So this is my second project. The first project we did an office space together for both Chrissy's cooking and also for John. We did a music recording studio. So we'd worked together at the beginning and that was our first like work relationship to really test the water, see how they, what they love and what they work. And it was a perfect way to kind of fore into doing a full house renovation. So it was great. It was try before you buy for everyone <laugh>. So it was good. So it was great and it's, I mean we first met I think in 2020, literally the day before we went into lockdown is when we had our first. We had a Zoom 'cause we weren't meeting in person so we had a Zoom and then we started working on that office and then during that time we ended up going to see houses and they bought the house and then we started knocking things down the next day. <laugh>.
AC 00:07:14 Yeah I bet. I bet they were in like crunch mode of like hey we're going into lockdown, let's get this done. Yeah. So how did you approach the creative process when working with such creative people? I mean there's such geniuses in their own creative rights. Was that different than a typical client? Were they more hands off? What did that look like?
JA 00:07:34 I think what's so nice about working with creatives, especially in the entertainment is that they really understand like that everything has a process. That there's like a beginning, middle and an end. And I think being on the same page of like it's the same way of like writing music. Like you've got that whole through line and it's the same with designing a house. So there was that understanding and respect level I think from a creative to another creative. And what was so great is that the whole process is they really trusted me to bring their kind of direction and what they wanted as a vision but bring it to fruition through my understanding of what they want through my lens. And I think it was interesting 'cause the house architecturally is a lot more contemporary than most of the projects that I've worked on before. So it was a, it was a really great challenge to work on something that architecturally was very different to what I normally do, but also have the space really be a representation of who they are as people and have it feel very accustomed to their taste was really what I loved about the project is I was able to like put on different hats and kind of take myself outside of my comfort zone. But it was, it's all trust. It's like I think that it was successful because there was a trust there and that I think you can't really, any designer will tell you that any project you work on, you don't, it's like dating, you have no idea what you're getting yourself into but you have to just put your best foot forward and hope that there's a mutual respect and patience. And I think when you have that it's like the key to success.
AC 00:09:06 One of my favorite aspects of this project, I mean there was a lot, I really loved how contemporary it was honestly there were so many elements that I felt were like inspired by Bridget and I just talked to Bridget yesterday and like that contemporary architecture but then like you put such a Jake spin on that contemporary architecture. Sure. It feels so layered and so warm and so inviting while still feeling like really hip and cool just out of what your normal projects usually feel like. But what I thought was really amazing about it is like it's such a family home, right? But you look at it and you're like there's no way that a family lives here. And I got such a better understanding watching the video tour of it. Talk to me about how you approach knowing that they live in that house, they live hard in that house with little kids and made it still feel as glamorous and elevated as it turned out.
JA 00:10:00 Yeah, I mean I think that it's not mutually exclusive to have something be livable and family friendly and also impactful from a design perspective. So I think everything for me was, is all about silhouettes and creating these moments in such an open plan, big space that you want all these areas to have their own individual independent point of view but also have to flow all the way across the house and be able to take like they use that house, they live in it. So it's, so we really were very cognizant about like fabric choices, the materials, but also everything was sculptural. So the intent was that everything we chose stood on its own. Whereas normally on a house that I would work on, we would really have those high and low moments of pieces that were more maybe sculptural and then other things that were very simplistic. But every piece in this house has its own almost sculpture and moment and has almost like an artisanal form to it because it's such an open plan space. That was really the, the goal there is for everything to stand on its own but also be cohesive and they jump on every sofa, every table. But it works, and I think that that's what makes a beautiful house is that people live in it and they're not scared to run around and have fun.
AC 00:11:18 What would you say are your favorite elements in that project?
JA 00:11:23 I def, I mean I love the bedroom, the primary bedroom I love. It's just so cozy and comfortable and just very like rich and inviting. But I also love the bar. Like the bar to me is just like when you are there, 'cause I've been there for like a party before and it's just like the lights are low, the drinks are flowing, there's music, it's just such a vibe in there and it's feels so them. That's what I love about this house is that when I'm in it it it's all them. It's not me. Like I let them have this house and it's perfect for them and I just love that it really, I was able to put on like their point of view through my lens and I, I think the bar is the perfect, the perfect space that kind of illustrates it. It's just fun and playful.
AC 00:12:10 Well I feel like one of your very many magical superpowers is the fact that you are able to embody the client so well. To designers listening, can you talk us through what conversations, questionnaires, homework you have a client do to get to the point where
you do know them so well that you can evoke their embodiment in their home?
JA 00:12:37 Well I think, yeah I think it's a process. I think at the beginning of first meeting a client, I really look at all of the what I've, to be honest. So what I've been really fortunate about is a lot of the people I work with are public people. So I see, but then what's interesting is when you get to know them, there's a whole different side of how they wanna live. So really picking up on someone's personality and really I do exercises of like, okay here's 10 images, what point to the things that you love and point to the things that you hate? And they don't even have to be that specific. They could just say no to this whole room and yes to this room, but they might not like anything individually but the feeling. And so it's basically like playing clue where it's like here's all these spaces, love this, hate this.
JA 00:13:20 And then I kind of decipher around that and then come up with a narrative for the house. And so that I'll start even before I've done the schematic design, I'll come up with just a full narrative and like a story and almost like a playbook for what this house is gonna be like and how people are gonna live in it and how they're going to use the spaces. And then when you paint that picture of experience for a client, if it fits into that narrative, great because all the specific choices are all leading to that north star. And so I like to have that focal along the whole way of like, well just remember, I know you are not into this but it's going to allow us to create this four overarching kind of direction that I think sometimes people get too in the weeds of picking things versus like understanding the overall direction. So it's a process of elimination at the beginning and then it's also, it's a people's job. I think every designer will tell you no matter how creative someone is, you also have to be a good listener and just be observant.
AC 00:14:26 Do you typically at this discovery phase, are these always meetings held in person? Now I know that you guys were getting ready to go into lockdown so maybe that was different. But typically would this be in person? Are you physically showing them images or is it a digital presentation?
JA 00:14:41 Yeah, I'll do this in person and then I'll also have like a palette of maybe some woods and stones and fabrics, different materials because then I can see like this is someone who hates veiny marble, this is someone that loves nubby texture. Like I just need the tiny little inklings of like a little clue of what they're into and that's it. And I think that people love and are very receptive to it because it's tactile and it's very general and you then you can build someone's home and even if it's not specific items or like furniture, lighting materials, like you get a sense of what people like I have some people who hate velvet and some people who hate linen. So it's like once you know that I know the type of person and the type of living, it's how people dress, it's all the same thing really.
AC 00:15:29 For sure. For those inspiration images, are you always pulling from your own work or are you good to pull from other things?
JA 00:15:35 Always others. I never pull from mine because I always like to start fresh and not really look as a reference point because they already have come to me 'cause they've seen what we've done. So every time I take on a new project I wanna be challenged and push the needle and evolve. So I really try not to like focus on what has already been done because then I think people get too comfortable and it's not a fun, it's fun for me to do something new.
AC 00:16:00 For sure. I have a super technical question and I'm always curious when it comes to presentation day and you are, even if it's like this initial vibe check presentation day, uh, do you have like special boards that you put everything on? Is it in like a custom Jake Arnold tray? Are you just spreading it out on the table? What does the actual presentation look like to help people get closer to a Yes faster?
JA 00:16:26 So I think it's a mix. Firstly it's all I, every single thing that comes out of the studio, no matter what it is, whether it's the quickest correspondence or not, is always on like a branded like Jake Arnold full package. So you understand that every single thing that we're doing there is like a full loop on the whole process. And so I'll take, I'll create a, a little package that I print, I have it bound, have it laminated, people would like to love at the end of a meeting to take something with them. That's what I've learned. And then we have a beautiful wood tray with all of our samples labeled. And then I also print everything out individually, not just in this bound presentation so that we can move things and play around and grab like I think allowing those types of meetings to be as tactile as possible is what's really successful.
JA 00:17:14 So even sometimes before at some phase before we start going into like really selecting, especially like on the FF and E phase, I'll maybe print out like 10 sofas and just have them in little like square pieces and play around with them with different fabrics and just get a sense. But again, it depends on the client. If someone can visualize, you can do half the work and half the time and it's a conversation and then someone who needs the full gamut, it's a full developed presentation that's really spelling it out. So I, I think it's again like communication varies based on the client as it should.
AC 00:17:53 Well that's so helpful. Thank you Jake. The thought of bringing in materiality at the very beginning I think is a great pivot that people can implement right away. Totally. I can totally see that as a big shift between feeling and touching something even if it's not the final pick. Versus looking at something just like in a big lineup of product and comparing.
JA 00:18:13 Yeah, you also just save so much time. Like it's like you could be designing bathrooms for months and then you get to the presentation and the client's like, I don't like veiny marble, I hate marble, I don't want that. So it's like you could just, it's, it's just being very like flexible with what people's like personal like choices are.
AC 00:18:32 Yeah. And just being smart with your time. Yeah. And delivering a better product for the client.
JA 00:18:36 Definitely.
AC 00:18:37 So, speaking of product, last time we chatted you hadn't even launched e-comm yet on The Expert so fast forward
JA 00:18:44 Oh wow. Yeah we haven't,
AC 00:18:45 Yeah it's been a while. So I wanna talk about The Expert showroom and I'd love if
you could break down what its purpose is and what makes it different than First Dibs, Cherish, or any other sort of e-comm platform and why it's really special.
JA 00:19:02 So, well what's really exciting about The Expert showroom is it's really built on the perspective of not just designers but homeowners and also artisans and brands. So across the board it's like we are really here to serve all of these different parties and I think a lot of these smaller brands and artisanal companies that we're giving exposure to is not only good for them but it's also so amazing for the everyday consumer who hasn't had that level of access. But then we also have our a designer trade program that really gives like the designers like first looks on some of these amazing brands that even they may have not had access to and it also makes their job really easy. And a huge part of what makes the showroom special and different is we have an entire back of house procurement and specialty support system and customer service that is so in tune and understands the full gamut of like how a full project works from the perspective of a designer and the everyday retail customer.
JA 00:20:06 So we have that experience and knowledge through the building of The Expert. So it really is this additional kind of handholding like really it just allows people to make informed decisions and it's more personal. So that to me is what's exciting is it has those touch
points that I think some of these other e-commerce brands are almost a little more less curated. There's almost too much out there. And I think what we are trying to do is really like peel back the curtain and give access to all these amazing companies and brands that a lot of people wouldn't have access to. Especially when it comes to the textiles where before we started some of these companies didn't even offer like direct to consumer. Like you couldn't even go and buy any fabric by the yard online. That just wasn't a thing. So we are really trying to evolve the landscape of what that purchase, purchasing like experience is for people. And I, it's been really fun. I think people have really enjoyed it to have access to all these incredible companies.
AC 00:21:07 Well, since the very first day that I met you Jake, you have always lived so wholeheartedly on the platform of making design accessible and that great design is and should be available to everyone at any price point and at any accessibility level. And it's just really amazing to see like not only do you live that like you are putting that out into the world. So I wanna hear more about the designer trade program because I think that's amazing. I'll make sure and link the application in the show notes so the designers listening can go ahead and apply because that sounds literally like concierge level service and that is blowing my mind.
JA 00:21:44 Yeah and it's, and and I think that's what people really enjoy. It's like even if you, even if a designer already has access to a lot of these things, like it's just an additional layer of service that just makes everyone more efficient and I'm in the business of making things efficient. Like there's so much layered to all of these purchases like in this industry. Like everything becomes so complicated and we've already tried to simplify it for the trade as well and also with those additional benefits that you can find all online under the trade program <laugh>, which will, which we'll send over. But I, for me it's always about the balance. It's like design is accessible for everyone no matter what the price point is and no matter what the project is and there's something for everyone, whether it's buying into a beautiful pillow accessory or buying a full bed or a sofa that's custom made through The Expert collection.
JA 00:22:38 Like there's so many ways that we can reach these audiences and everyone deserves to be kind of served and had those needs met and centralized. Like when you go on First Dibs, most people are so overwhelmed and I love First Dibs, it's one of my go-to resources and I think they're an incredible company but it's really, we are about the both the designer and the homeowner and shedding a light to these brands. Like I want some, I want people to hear some of the incredible companies that we have on the platform that some people would never ever see because what's so difficult with nowadays, like there's way less in-person showrooms for people to go see things. So it's all about giving people like that designer touch that everything on the website, someone on our team has had experience with that product. So we know like I can recommend the sofa because I know that when you get it, it's actually comfortable. Like right, you've got that type of trust and like ability to make a purchase online knowing that someone has really vetted it before. And that's the, that's the whole key
AC 00:23:47 And it's not just your opinion or The Expert's opinion, it's the designer's opinions that are on The Expert. So you're getting like multiple validations on these products.
JA 00:23:56 A hundred percent.
AC 00:23:58 So The Expert showroom product price point is higher than the average consumer retail store because it's bespoke made to order higher quality, all of the above. Are you seeing that Expert clients, clients who have booked a session with an Expert purchase frequently from the showroom and are non-Expert clients shopping the showroom as in people who haven't even booked with The Expert yet. Do you feel like we're hitting both markets yet? Yes, definitely. Or is there like room to make a jump?
JA 00:24:26 Definitely. I mean we have a lot of people who just add to cart where we don't even have, there is no communication with the back like the procurement or the sales team and it really is so that's the most exciting part as someone who hasn't done an Expert or is not necessarily familiar with the original platform. Mm-hmm <affirmative> and how we started is that they're really drawn to the product and what we're selling is what they're drawn to. And that's the key is like we wanted to build this not on the back of the video consultation and everything else we've done but as its own ability to, it's this full lifecycle and we've, I think we've tapped into always of course we're growing every day and we're expanding all the time but it's so nice to hear from people who have been buying pieces from the showroom who hadn't had a relationship with The Expert before or any of the designers and they've loved the kind of service that we've provided for them.
JA 00:25:18 And I have to say that hearing that from non-Expert related like past relationships and seeing how people are really like interacting with the showroom is always like the best learning curve. 'cause we really can see with people with blinders on where they don't have any context like is this really a space that people can like go on there, be inspired, find things and be exposed to things that they may have not seen before and then see that through all the way to execution and have an easy very nice experience that like again doesn't add to the stressful situation of designing a house. It's a lot of work. <laugh>
AC 00:25:56 So I know it is not Jake Arnold sitting at his laptop approving or waitlist or denying applicants. So don't come at Jake. But are there any tips or tricks that you could provide to those listening for people who are interested in joining The Expert of how they can best position themselves when it comes to applying to be a designer on The Expert platform?
JA 00:26:21 Yeah, so correct. I am not personally involved in any of that. Sure, once upon a time before we like fully started the company. Yes. Now I'm not involved in that whatsoever. And our team is so diligent and always looking at different designers from all over the world with all different price points, all different styles. And we are really expanding that more so than we have ever and really letting more people onto the platform because we want to have something for everyone, not only for the consumer and the and the homeowners, but I also want all these designers to have an opportunity to expand and build their businesses. So the tips and the tricks is that there are no tricks and there are no tips other than keep doing incredible work and always send an application and it will always be considered like it's a long arduous process and we have so many applications which we're so grateful to have and we continually are going through it.
JA 00:27:19 And just because maybe you haven't been on like essentially signed up and set up right now, it doesn't mean that's like forever. I think it's a constant evolution for The Expert. So showing your best work and have, by the way, I will tell you do you know what is the tip? Because this is the quickest way for people to see what you have to do is the minute you go on your website or your Instagram page, like let that be the best representation of your work because that's your two seconds of showing what you are about and it will just make make our on our end to be able to really see what you have going on and a little bit about what you do. So. So clean up those Instagrams and take those dog pictures off
AC 00:28:02 <laugh> 100% progress pics. Put 'em in stories, save 'em to highlights. Yeah, yeah. But treat your grid like a portfolio. Yeah.
AC 00:28:11 This October we are headed back to the Santa Monica proper hotel for Design Camp 2023. Join designers from around the world as we go in depth in small group breakout sessions and large keynotes covering topics like systems and processes, design presentations, maximizing profitability, marketing that converts, updated software solutions in so much more. Meet celebrity designers, Bria Hamill, Chael and Co and Kaitlyn Fleming while we dine Alfresco under the Stars Design Camp is loaded with surprises in a lifetime of friendships. Don't miss our final event of the year. Visit www.design-camp.co to secure your spot.
AC 00:28:53 Jake, I have to tell you a super embarrassing story. I'm sure you don't even remember, but before you were launching The Expert, you sent me an invitation to join the platform and I was like, this looks amazing but I don't take design clients. Thank you so much. And you're like oh my gosh, I'm so sorry. Like I love the work that you do for yourself but that totally makes sense. Jake, I literally kick myself every day of my life for telling you no I wouldn't do it.
JA 00:29:20 <laugh>, wait, I’m honestly dying because I can't even remember which is even more embarrassing.
AC 00:29:24 I’m sure it was probably someone sending the email from your email anyway, but I was just like dying and I was like oh my gosh, this is so amazing. I should open a studio tomorrow so I can say yes to this <laugh>.
JA 00:29:37 No, well we'll always have you back <laugh>, so there you go.
AC 00:29:42 Okay,
JA 00:29:42 You can come back any day.
AC 00:29:44 Oh well thank you. I'll email you immediately. <laugh>. So <laugh>, okay so new, bigger additional things happening at The Expert. You just gave a little teaser on your Instagram and I think we're allowed to talk about it now. You are launching <laugh> that The Expert is launching a podcast next month in October. Yeah, this will come out or a month and a half or so. Tell us what we can expect to hear on the show who we can expect to hear on the show and if it's more geared toward designers or to clients specifically or a combination of both, just tell us everything.
JA 00:30:22 So yeah, I'm doing a podcast and by the way you make it look so much easier than it is because it's not, it's you really do. So it's really a place that we can gather incredible like thought leaders and design enthusiasts across the gamut from editors of publication magazines, entrepreneurs in the home space, designers, potentially some clients like who knows that we might be interviewing. But I think that there's gonna be a really fun mix of people because what I want with the podcast is to expand just obviously like it's design focused and that's the key. But it's also I want people who aren't necessarily in the design field per se, to find something that they can get some incredible insight from. Both running a design business, designing product, having clients, building a brand, all those things that across the board. And I think it's just a really fun, enjoyable, lighthearted like opportunity for us to really like shed light to our experts, to the designers, to all the experiences of our clients.
JA 00:31:26 And just like across the board, it's gonna be a little bit of everything and we'll see what people are loving and that's what's so great is we've had so much intel with all of the clients and customers from The Expert and what they really wanna hear and what they wanna see. And it's a mix, some tips, some tricks from of specifically design related but also like I think from the business point of view is just getting those tips and advice on and really how to like expand and hopefully empower and inspire people to go out and fulfill like their passions and dreams that maybe they haven't yet.
AC 00:32:01 Well I'm so excited to listen in because Jake, you have this incredible gift that when
you are in conversation with someone you make them feel like the most important person in the world.
JA 00:32:13 Oh, thank you.
AC 00:32:14 And I can hear you hearing me so well that I'm excited to see how that carries over with your friendships with so many people and getting to tune into that. So yeah, cannot wait.
JA 00:32:23 Thank you so much.
AC 00:32:24 It drops in October. Do you have a date yet tentatively?
JA 00:32:29 I don't have the exact date in front of me and probably I should and that's probably not good. But I will <laugh>,
AC 00:32:35 We'll add it to the show notes as soon as that is up and live so that we can make sure and link to that. But even bigger news like this show just gets bigger.
JA 00:32:44 Oh my god, what's the news I don’t even know <laugh>,
AC 00:32:47 I hope you know that you have a book coming out. Yeah, well <laugh>, I believe we're launching this episode the week that the book comes out, which is now September 5th. Just so you know, if you've pre-ordered it, you're getting it like a week earlier than we initially thought, which feels like Christmas came very early. <laugh>, I have had the incredible privilege of getting an advanced look at the book and it was so unique because it truly breaks down your design thought process with every project that's showcased. There's this delightful section at the end of each chapter with an extensive behind the scenes look content of each project. What was your thought process behind this unusual or unique approach to a design coffee table book?
JA 00:33:30 Well I'm so happy that you got to see it. Um, which I'm so excited about and it was just such a fun experience to put the book together and a huge part of what I believe in is that design is accessible for everyone. And I think that creating a book that's inspiring and something that's beautiful to look at and really kind of just like this perfect little bow of all the projects that I really felt like illustrated all my design philosophy is I wanted to just really showcase the process because I think it's not just the end result but really what my thoughts and like, I guess inspiration was across the board because I think the context is, is what I think is always been missing in the design in like the high design is that people wanna know like why did you choose this? What was inspiring? What was the architecture and the client like? And they wanna know all of this information because it really adds that richness and layering to the projects. And I think that it was just like a fun way to showcase some, like take some real takeaways and hopefully just give a little more like, like clue of how the whole process works for some people who may not have any idea. So it was just a, it was a hopefully a fun new way to do that.
AC 00:34:46 I hope that you have also additional pages like a bonus edition where it's like all of the emails and spreadsheets and all of the less glamorous behind the scenes <laugh>.
JA 00:34:56 I'm still looking for that too. So if you have that book I'll buy it. <laugh> still disorganized.
AC 00:35:01 So a few months ago, I guess it was May when we were last chatting backstage at Design Camp, you mentioned that you, y'all shot and wrote this book in like three or four months. My question is have you always had a clear idea of what your first book would look like?
JA 00:35:21 I think when I, when Rizzoli asked me to do the book, I think that my first thought that came to mind was like how do I make this more of a story and like how do I showcase not just the projects but also like my journey as a designer and someone who really started from nothing in this industry. And so that was always like my big goal is like just to give a little piece about me, however small that was and my journey and and everything. But then also just like the idea that I wanted this book and I think maybe subconsciously I thought about this more is I wanted every single project in there to have more meaning than just what you are seeing. Like I wanted there to be this almost like a, every single chapter is really almost like a benchmark and like a and a way of thinking about design that's maybe not linear.
JA 00:36:13 And so I think that there is chapters that really break down how I've grown as an individual and a designer and how that's reflected and presented in that project. So it's, it's already like a twofold like I guess like I'm losing my words of what I'm trying to say which is it's not just about how it looks like don't judge a book by its cover. Like there's so much more to it than pretty pictures And I hope that there's takeaway for people both on a personal level and that can be inspiring but also visually too
AC 00:36:44 Well congratulations on Rizzoli 'cause like that's just the pinnacle
JA 00:36:48 Thank you so much
AC 00:36:48 Question: did they just approach you, did you already have a book agent? What was that process like? Because it feels like there are a lot of books coming out from our favorite designers and those who are like looking up to that and that being like a big grand supreme Oprah sized goal someday. Like what is the step to get on that path towards getting a book deal?
JA 00:37:14 I think like, I think my tips and tricks across the board, I really believe this, no matter what you are doing, no matter whether it's a book, whether you are doing a product line or a collaboration is I just always have my head down and work my absolute hardest no matter what without that as the goal. Like I think now having looked back some of these goals, we all have these goals and it's always a dream, but I think the shortcut to anything is just doing whatever you are doing as best as you can. And then on a practical level, I, I am with CAA agent as my agent and really it was actually interesting 'cause as I started working with them, Rizzoli had actually come to me directly but then I had an amazing book agent at CAA who really helped build out the book deal and really expand on all the potential.
JA 00:38:04 So I think my advice is whether or not you speak directly to a publisher or you work with an agent beforehand an agent and having someone on your side to really guide you through the process. 'cause I have no idea what what's entailing a book and we're still, it's so fun 'cause now all of like the marketing side of things and the event book events and the signings and all of that stuff like that had to be thought about months ago and that was, that was not even anything on my radar. So working with a book agent to really get you the best book deal and to really shop out your work. 'cause I think it's, it's really good to work with an agent if that's your starting point because I think that it allows them to take your work, create a proposal, build something out, and then shop it around to different publishers because if it's not Rizzoli, there's uh, there's so many other incredible book publishers and it's about finding your fit and, and I think that putting the proposal together and sending it out is probably the best route I think for, for getting a book together.
AC 00:39:06 Well thank you for sharing that. That's super helpful. So in the book Redefining Comfort, there are so many never before seen projects along with new photos of project. Maybe you have teased on Instagram. I feel like your book is a little bit of a unicorn, like everything else you do that because we've heard from other guests that they're never allowed to share a to be published project. How did you, how did this kind of work around happen for you as they approached you and you had projects that you were able to shoot in three, four months? How did that negotiation work out?
JA 00:39:45 I mean honestly the universe was on my side because John and Chrissy's house that we had in the book before AD came out, the timing was perfect. Mm-hmm <affirmative> like the book came out just as this has happened. So it was really aligned. Had that not happened, it probably would've been very difficult to do it. But we did kind of work backwards I think, know, like as soon as we knew about Architectural Digest in the cover like pub, like obviously publishing is always the number one thing that you wanna focus on because it's, it's just a completely different built in audience essentially. But I think in the book, like I really have made sure anything that we did that was published or I've shared on Instagram is that we didn't share every single angle or different details in the room because it's always nice to like save some of those things.
JA 00:40:34 And it wasn't even intentional that when we did some of these shoots, we saved things for the book. It's that you can't share everything. Sometimes on a publication there's only six images and you've got an entire house of vignettes and closeups and four room different angle shots. And so honestly going through all of the projects and being able to pick some of my favorite images that we couldn't use when publishing, like some of my favorite images are some of the closeups in the vignettes. So you already get the texture and it's more tactile that way. So yeah, it's, it's it, I think it's always important for, for designers to really pay attention when you are doing a shoot that who knows what you could do in the future, whether it's a book or a furniture line or expanding on your website to just make sure that you get as much content always. 'cause you never know when you're going to use it and you'll save so much money and time doing that.
AC 00:41:27 So, very specific question, when you're working with a photographer who charges a day rate plus a per image fee, You would recommend like going ahead making the investment to get that per image fee?
JA 00:41:40 A hundred percent. Okay. Yeah, because I think ultimately when you have all of these images, one day you are going to use them for social, for a magazine, for, for a different magazine, for a different publication who has a different spin whether you are doing a book no matter what it is. And I, and by the way, do you know what else I also think it's so useful for is if you are using a custom piece of furniture for another project, it's like your great opportunity to show it in situ. Like there's all these other angles I think about when shooting a project where it's not just this the end result but it's also like the details maybe like when you are building your team and you're building out a list of standards for new employees, it's like here's the, the detail that we do in upholstery and you can see it in these three projects because you have the good images. So it's really good to look at it all holistically that it's, it there's so much value in, in capturing all the details in a space when you finish the project.
AC 00:42:38 That's so brilliant. I've never thought about how much value you can have from an image just on an internal standpoint.
JA 00:42:45 Mm-hm, totally.
AC 00:42:47 What are you most proud of with the upcoming release of Redefining Comfort?
JA 00:42:52 I think what I'm proudest about is right at the beginning in the intro when I kind of give a little background of like where I'm from and how I started is I think what I'm proud about is that I have this tangible book that I can look at that just reminds me of all of the years of hard work, sweat and tears and stress and worry and like there's actually something there. Like
it's all worth something. And I think that to have that in my hands and when I first got hold of the book, it was just like this really nice tap on the shoulder of like, you can chill for a second. Like you have done all of this work and it's all in this book to remind you of what's happened over the years. And that's what I'm proud of that like everything that I really have done has, has been, has had, had, has had meaning and it has like, it lives somewhere now. Like now I can like leave that book and it's in it and it's a really nice reminder. I think that's why I'm, that's why I'm most excited about the book.
AC 00:43:57 We had a little bit of chat before we hit record today just talking about the level of busy that you are and with so many things launching like with so much stuff coming out, finding this point in your life where it's honestly something I'm working on with my therapist, getting to a place of content, getting to a place of I have done enough and that I wanna keep doing this really, really well. And it's not always necessarily about yes to every single thing. Can you talk us through where your headspace is at and what decisions you're making to make all of this possible?
JA 00:44:40 Mm. I mean I think it's a very apt question because I'm going through it like in real time and what I'm learning while I'm peeling back the onion and like doing the work with therapy and all the things is like A) figuring out like what is that reason why you keep pushing? Like we all push push and I think it's, there's always something else you could be doing always. Like we, we live in a world and a culture, especially here in the US 'cause I didn't grow up here so I did not have this mentality growing up. It's not typical where normally I grow up and it's like
you work hard but you like really go on vacations and you really take time off and you really don't have to work all the time. And so for me right now I'm going through it, I'm figuring out, okay, what gives me joy, that's what I wanna focus on, what's taking away energy And those are the things that have, you gotta edit and it's, and it Rome, like I said, was not built in the day.
JA 00:45:41 You have to really take a step back and think about where you are putting your energy because everything is an opportunity cost. And Leanne Ford, and I've said this so many times and it's the best advice is she said to me that you have to say no to the good to get the great, like you have to be able to in the face of an amazing opportunity that you think is so good. Like, I'll give you an example, like I like a potential client that is amazing project. It seems so good all like, it could be amazing, but for me right now, like my health mentally and physically has to come priority and I have to make those decisions of I can either lose this project by saying I can't start for three months because I'm, I'm go going through so much or I do it and then I'm overwhelmed and everything is miserable.
JA 00:46:32 So it's, it's really picking and choosing your battles and I'm, and honestly I'm learning right now and it's, it's, it's fun and exciting because I'm like, oh like now I can really make some changes because it's not sustainable. Like even everything I've done and that I'm doing right now, like that's not sustainable and I know that and I am content with every single thing that I've done. But I think as creatives we always want to do more and be curious and get different challenges but there are some months or maybe a year that maybe you're a little quiet and you take a step back. I haven't done that yet and like I'm excited to see what that's, that's like, but it's, it's a work in progress.
AC 00:47:15 Well I have a couple of design ethos questions that we can leave everyone feeling incredibly inspired as they get back to their projects. One signature element I have studied in your work is an unexpected furniture flow. You do not seem to subscribe to traditional floor plans, particularly in living and entertaining spaces. Can you tell us why you stay away from the standard two sofas and a coffee table in between and call it a day?
JA 00:47:44 I cause myself so much stress with this because like that's what I spend so much time on is creating layouts that really speak to both entertainment and personal time. Like I love living spaces that are made for families but also when you have a huge party. So creating that like dynamic is really important in the layout is key. And I think that it's all about creating internal furniture. I call it like furniture architecture where it like creates a flow and a use of a space that maybe is more limiting for a more traditional layout.
AC 00:48:19 Can you talk to us about specific things that you incorporate to have that kind of flexibility? For instance, it's multiple seating areas or maybe it's smaller coffee tables or anything tangible like that.
JA 00:48:34 Yeah sure. I think it's definitely like multiple coffee tables, different sizes, day beds are the best way I think of splitting a room and also like curved furniture pieces, specifically sofas or chairs that just allow you to have that more organic feel and really staying away from very boxy squared off angular pieces is pretty much in all our projects we, I really don't do a lot of angular anything because it is so limiting with the layout. But yeah, to me it's the layout is key to do something interesting and then if it's not and you're doing a more classic traditional layout is then it's all about the fabrics and then it's always about bringing something in that has that unexpected detail or upholstery piping or something that just gives it something where you're like, oh like that's feels comfortable to me and is livable and timeless but it's giving an additional kind of personality in the detailing versus these big moments where you don't honestly like sometimes you'll get sick of it so you wanna do less. I think with those types of bold choices.
AC 00:49:40 When you're working with a space that isn't large enough to subdivide, what would be something that a listener at home could implement to give that loungy vibey Jake Arnold feel?
JA 00:49:56 Sure. I think the first thing that comes to mind is like if you're in a living room, don't do matching pair of chairs. Like do two different chairs with slightly different silhouettes and shapes and then maybe do a coffee table that's like a cluster or two so that, so that you are avoiding all your furniture just being like one block volume. But it has this movement and flow that I think you can do it through this mismatched side tables, the lamps, the chairs, make your coffee tables a little more organic and I think you'll get the same, I think feeling that like a multi like seating living room would have.
AC 00:50:32 That's amazing. Thank you. A goal you shared with us many times is to prove that great design is accessible to everyone. And when we look at your projects for the likes of Chrissy Teigen and John Legend, what are three elements we can take away on a, not just smaller scale but on a more modest price point? What should we be focusing our dollars and energy on?
JA 00:50:56 I think rugs are the, to me so important and I know that rugs are so expensive and they can be like one of the biggest purchases that you make, but there are so many incredible rugs that are out there and available and that's, I mean honestly that's why I love doing these collaborations because I want to be able to make some of these more expensive unaccessible pieces just a lot more affordable and attainable. So I think a rug is like the is number one thing. And then I think lighting like really investing in great floor lamps and pendants and sconces and I think a way that you can add a really custom feel to a space that's not as expensive as people think is adding sconces on a wall. Like to me, like you could buy a pair of sconces for a couple hundred dollars and maybe you spend the rest of the money on the labor, but like that makes such a difference I think in a space. And if you're in a rental you can do sconces that are obviously plugins. But I think if you can do the electrical work that you can honestly find someone so inexpensive electrician to do that. It's, it's this perfect way that just adds that like height to a space and it's a little more layered. And I think also that's where you can add your vintage as well as easily
AC 00:52:12 For sure. If you're wondering, you can buy Jake's rugs at Lulu in Georgia and he has some great lighting options at his Crate and Barrel line as well.
JA 00:52:20 God, I'm already flogging, flogging a lot today, <laugh>.
AC 00:53:47 Okay Jake, as we wrap things up, I wanna ask a more personal question. As your career has skyrocketed after a decade of grinding and hustling, I'm not cutting that short. There was so much hustle before you really became a household name, but you are now arguably one of America's most acclaimed designers. And with your global covers, I mean we're way past the United States now. So what does success look like to you as you head to the future?
JA 00:54:18 Well firstly thank you. 'cause I feel like still Jake from the middle of nowhere in England. So like thank you. But I think while I read this the other day, it was this, it was this meme where it said, success is when you have a calm nervous system. And I really am feeling that way. So for the short term near future, I'm in a nurturing, taking care of myself, editing place that's, I wanna enjoy the fruits of my labor and just be in a place that I can really build a new dream and expand on new horizons. But just take a minute to enjoy everything. Like that to me is like, success is really taking intentional time to take a step back, because otherwise you're just nonstop. And then all of a sudden, what was the point? I didn't enjoy it. So that's where I'm at today. But ask me in a few months, I don't know, <laugh>,
AC 00:55:09 I will circle back around next season when we have you undoubtedly on the show again. Well, Jake, this was incredible. Talking to you always leaves me so refreshed and inspired and weirdly focused at the same time. Thank you for always being so warm and welcoming and open with everything that all of our listeners wanna hear. I cannot wait to get my hands on your book. It is linked in the show notes. You can purchase your copy now coming out on September 5th, and we can't wait to tune in to the Expert podcast in October.
JA 00:55:38 Well, thank you for having me, as always. It's such a treat. I love speaking to you, it also gives me energy to remember not to be so hard on myself, <laugh>. So I really appreciate and thank you for always being such a supporter and a cheerleader and it means so much to me.
AC 00:55:54 Well, I'm sure I'll talk to you soon. I'm gonna start sending you daily affirmation texts, <laugh>. Yes,
JA 00:55:59 Exactly. That's what I need.
AC 00:56:01 Uh, thank you so much, Jake. We'll chat soon.
JA 00:56:03 Thank you,
AC 00:56:07 Jake Arnold is not only paving the way for designers to come. He is transforming the industry as we speak from developing a direct to market e-commerce platform to making top designers more accessible to the public and creating a safe space for interior designers to gain direct access to the studios they most look up to. The world is our oyster. You can learn more about the Expert Trade Program in the show notes to begin accessing their concierge level service and industry discounts. If you haven't already ordered Jake's new book, Redefining Comfort Today, as it is released on Tuesday, September 5th, you can order your copy from the show notes below or anywhere books are sold. Thank you for tuning into these conversations and bringing us to our third season. Your support makes this passion project so worth it. Please remember to leave a review for this entirely free resource on Apple Podcasts and rate us on Spotify. If you're on YouTube, you can catch every episode there too. Until next week, I'm Anastasia Casey. Thank you for being a part of the Interior Collective, a podcast for the business of beautiful living.