Interior designer John K. Anderson creates classic environments as seen through a modernist’s eye. With over 20 years experience in residential, commercial and hospitality design, Anderson is known for his dynamic balance of contemporary, mid-century and traditional elements, developing urbane interiors that are fresh and enduring.

We sat down with John to discuss his process, how design will evolve in the future and a few silver-linings during these difficult times. 

Can you tell us how JKA Design was conceived?

JKA was conceived in 2005, after working for several great firms in the Bay Area over a period of about 15 years. I had some wonderful mentors during those formative years, including Orlando Diaz and Howard Backen, but eventually decided it was time to create my own studio and do things entirely my way. 

Can you explain your process during the onset of a new project?

Our process always begins with the client — who they are, what stage of life and career they are in, how long they intend to be in the space under consideration, how much they entertain, whether or not they have children or are planning to have children, et cetera and so forth. We strive to delve into the core of who they are as a couple or a family and how they would like to craft their environment in order to help them truly and fully “live their story.” We then tune into the architecture itself, to ensure that we properly respond to and skillfully modify it to align with our established goals. In the end, it becomes a collaboration with the client, the architect/contractor, and our firm, all working together to inspire creativity and leading to deeply satisfying results for all participants in the process — this is the utmost definition of success, as we see it, and always our goal. 

What would you consider to be the most substantial change in the field of design since you opened your firm?

I think technology. We’ve come leaps and bounds with 3D design and printing, which have changed the ways we are able to present to our clients and manage their expectations; clients now have a much better sense of the final project throughout the process, by being able to see images of conceived and finished rooms. On the other hand, the plethora of online and online-only retailers as well as instant, internet-based “design services” have unfortunately lead some clients to believe that they can just as easily do the work that designers have spent years learning and preparing for in terms of hard skills, established sources, and acquired knowledge — of materials (fabrics, finishes, etc.), of color theory, of scale and proportion, of architectural principals and history; our exclusive relationships with vendors and fabricators; our knowledge of the various construction trades, and so forth. There’s so much more to creating great, lasting interiors and design than merely buying a few nice — or not-so-nice! — pieces. Sometimes clients don’t fully understand or appreciate all that goes into creating a functional, enduring, and aesthetically cohesive environment. 

“This crazy, chaotic time has forced all of us to get clearer on what is most important in our lives. We are all having to make sometimes difficult but also valuable decisions to adjust to this new reality.”

How do you predict design will evolve over the next couple of decades?

I think over the next couple of decades design will continue to trend toward the handmade, the local, and bespoke that had all but vanished in our world of cheaply constructed, on-demand goods made in substandard factories paying unlivable wages. The younger generations — Millennials, for example — generally have a greater awareness of and passion for our environment and the looming effects of climate change. I hope this awareness continues to go to battle with the disposable culture I grew up in. 

How has the global pandemic impacted your business—any silver linings?

The pandemic has had such an enormous impact on our lives, globally as well as personally-individually, that I don’t think we even have full perspective on it yet — and won’t for a while. However, a couple of silver linings have emerged: First, it has been very good for the shelter business, as people have had to spend unprecedented amounts of time at home. They’ve come to more fully understand what does and does not work in their home environments as they conduct the entirety of their daily lives all under one roof…eating, sleeping, rest & relaxation, fitness, and, as never before, working as well as studying/schooling. Clients seem motivated and ready to make significant, lasting changes. Our firm has remained busy and has even had several of our most profitable months of the year during the middle of shelter-in-place. Secondly, this crazy, chaotic time has forced all of us to get clearer on what is most important in our lives. We are all having to make sometimes difficult but also valuable decisions to adjust to this new reality.

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