The entrance to her studio is by no means devoid of grandeur. The address: Park Avenue, New York. Lynn Jacobson lives and works there. She can boast an impressive record of interior designs, having worked for Henry Fonda, Liza Minnelli, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Kenneth Cole and many others. The ambience in her studio immediately sets the tone for her work: energetic, colourfully classical yet contemporary. OBJEKT©International met her in her home, where she lives with her husband Geert Flammersfeld and the dog, Bismarck.
The studio has its own entrance next to the customary canopy that marks a Park Lane apartment. This is where Lynn Jacobson works on her interior designs for people she herself describes as Global Connoisseurs. They include a good number of celebrities – Neil and Leba Sedaka, Diahann Carroll, Liza Minnelli, Michael Bennett, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, John Kluge, and Kenneth and Maria Cuomo Cole. She also restored the historic 1930s Beverly Hills house of Kate and Deane Johnson for their important collection of 18th-century art and antiques. And one of her first assignments was to design the interior of the townhouse belonging to Henry Fonda and his wife.
Lynn: “In the more than thirty years I have been designing interiors, I have worked in all the world’s major cities. I always wanted to do this work from childhood. My mother loved beautiful furniture and collected art and antiques. From the age of 5, I would accompany her to art auctions and galleries. That’s how it all evolved. I never imagined I wouldn’t pursue interior creation. I graduated from Parson’s School of Design in New York. As a child I always dreamed that I might be able to decorate the Christmas tree that appeared every year in House Beautiful. And I did just that, in 1981.”
Also: “It’s an extremely exciting job. The nice thing is that clients keep coming back for me to do their new homes. You build up a relationship based on creativity and trust. My clientele ranges from mega-business people to artistes from the world of cinema and theatre, and art collectors.” And she continued: “With them, I try to find the best solutions for their homes, boats and planes. I would never leave my own mark on their interiors. Every house is different. I compare my profession to that of a cook: if you’re a great chef you can always make a good meal, and the same applies to an interior.”
Her style varies from solidly traditional to elegantly modern, but never explicitly contemporary. “If clients want that, they call in my son who’s an architect”, Lynn told us.
“There are a few essentials in an interior, as far as I’m concerned. Firstly, it must provide considerable comfort and good light. And, of course, it must be functional. I also think it’s important for a woman to feel ‘the most glamorous in the world’ in her own home. Also, I love beautiful things: be they objects of no value, but with their own emotion and beauty, or very valuable art works.
I often hear from the people I work for that they no longer want to go away from home, as they feel most comfortable there! That’s the biggest compliment anyone could pay me.”
When asked what it takes to be a successful interior designer, she replied: “Apart from creative talent, you need dedication and a willingness to work hard. You must have an open mind: grow by observing and learning about the world’s cultures. Always aim for the best quality. You must help clients to make their dreams come true. For that, a disciplined studio with professional staff is vital”. She is clearly open for new ideas, as demonstrated by the fact that she origin-ally embarked on her professional activities with the designer Richard Ohrbach – an eccentric person with highly extreme ideas. After his death in 1990, she carried on with the studio.
She derives inspiration from travelling and from the city of New York itself. Besides her many trips to ongoing projects, she and her husband find time for what she terms ‘impromptu city trips’, with France and Italy heading the list. She describes New York as amazing and brimming with energy. The Upper East Side, where she and her husband live, is comfortable and friendly, and only a stone’s throw from the major museums. “The city actually comprises five large parts, each with its own distinctive ambience. One life isn’t enough to get to know it all, although we’re doing our best! We’ve always lived in Manhattan and here we really can find everything for our material and spiritual needs in terms of diversity and energy.” In her work the sumptuous furnishing fabrics of the éditeurs’ elite play an important role. Her studio represents all the leading brands in that field. At the back of the studio there is a private entrance to the lobby, where the concierges rush around on behalf of the residents. A lift took us up to her apartment, the interior of which she describes as ‘a reference to simplicity’.
She and her husband purchased the apartment in the early seventies from the art dealer who took Picasso to the United States. “It was full of Pablo’s work”, she recalled.
The apartment, covering two storeys, is richly decorated, but not full. Many of the art works and pieces of antique furniture are from Lynn and Geert’s own collection. The kitchen forms the hub of the apartment and is where they spend a lot of time and enjoy life’s earthly pleasures.