Recent studies at Columbia Business School confirm that spending time abroad can increase creativity. By this measure, JLI lead interior designer Julia Vandal was primed for success in a design career from birth—both genetically and environmentally.
With a mother who is a textile designer and a father who is a civil engineer, Julia’s parents have strong design pedigrees. But Julia’s birth while her family was living in Kuwait, and the extensive travel she did with her family from an early age, clearly sealed her fate. “Their passions and all the travel we did had a direct influence on my choice to pursue an architecture degree,” she admits.
Not only did Julia earn a Bachelor of Art in Architecture from Clemson University—with a semester abroad in Barcelona for more design inspiration—she went on to receive Master of Interior Architecture from the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design. After school, her penchant for international experience continued; she jointed Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architects, where she spent two years working on an office tower in Dubai, then headed to Suriname, South America where she worked for an architecture firm on commercial projects.
Julia came to JLI from an eight-year stint at Hutker Architects in Falmouth, Massachusetts, advancing from an entry-level designer to become one of the firm’s two senior interior designers. While she specialized in assessing and selecting interior finishes, designing multifunctional layouts and devising décor schemes for residential homes, she was involved in all phases of a project, from setting budgets and working with vendors and contractors to optimizing comfort and function to meet her client’s expectations.
During her time at Hutker, she was able to balance her interests between interior architecture and interior design thanks to the comprehensive nature of the firm’s residential projects, bringing a new level of depth and refinement to her work. She also took great sustenance in the give-and-take of collaborating directly with homeowners and developing design solutions that were cohesive with each project’s architecture, yet gave clients the sense of familiarity that is necessary to make a newly built residence feel like a home.
Before joining JLI, Julia was captivated by the firm’s diverse, sophisticated projects and commitment to timeless design. She was also attracted to the great sense of camaraderie and depth of collaboration between the JLI team members. Today, she’s excited to be working with an extraordinary group of professionals who inspire each other daily. “Everyone here has a deep, abiding commitment to quality and takes great pride in every project. That kind of passion is what allows us to create such singular, bespoke homes for each client,” she says.
Enamored by the energy of her new hometown’s metropolitan area, the former East Coaster relishes weekends exploring the stunning architecture in and around Chicago. She also appreciates down-time spent lounging at home with her husband and their dog, Jack.