American designers duo Tara Mangini
and Percy Bright
definitely know one thing: they want to leave places looking better than they found them. For this reason their interior design brand Jersey Ice Cream Co
aims to blow in a soul and a touch of aesthetics to more and more spaces all over the world.
How and how long ago have you found your passion for designing and transforming places?
We met in the summer of 2009 and very quickly found ourselves sharing an aesthetic and a love for old things. One of our first weekends away was a trip to the Brimfield Flea market, and while we were shopping there for Percy’s house at the time, we started talking about opening a vintage online shop, which very quickly became a reality. About a year into that we realized we wanted a lot more control over the spaces we were furnishing, and in the same breath, realized we had been working on our first project (Percy’s house) all along, and that designing spaces in that complete way was really what got us excited.
What is the best part for you of your job?
There are lots of great things. I think one of the best parts of our job is the feeling we get when everything is finally finished and we can step back for a few minutes and just relax and take it all in. Those moments honestly usually come down to like, 15 minutes before we have to leave the house altogether, but they are fifteen glorious minutes. Aside from that, the freedom that comes from being your own boss is absolutely priceless.
Isn’t it hard to design, create and make all decisions together? Have you ever had any disagreements about it?
Somehow, for the most part, it is really easy. Like any couple we argue about things, but work is one thing that we usually agree on. When we don’t, we try to make our case and be open to the other person’s suggestion as best we can. Often when we’re disagreeing it’s because someone has been working closely with the issue and thinking about it quite a bit, and the other person is offering an outsider’s opinion. When we both get on the same page and think about it for a few days, we usually find ourselves agreeing again.
In your duo, who is responsible for what while designing?
We always say Percy is the big picture person, while I am the small picture person. He handles things like the demo, wood working, furniture design and plastering. I sort of come in where he leaves off and handle the wood finishing, painting, furnishing and styling.If we were, for example, working on a kitchen, we would discuss it in detail before we did anything and come to a general consensus of what we were doing, what materials we were using, what lights we want to get, what look we were going for, etc. He would from then, do any demo that needed to be done and build out the space with cabinets, counter tops, shelves, a table, etc. Then I’d take over caulking, painting, staining, waxing, making sure that everything looked as perfectly finished as possible. From that point I pretty much take over with furnishing, which includes everything from kitchen chairs to dining napkins, and style it all to look just right.
What is the most important for you while designing?
We are really driven by functionality, aesthetics, and the idea of timelessness. We want the space to look beautiful of course, but we also really want it to make sense. Things need to have a flow, things need to have a place. The timeless part is the toughest. It’s hard to know what people will be into in ten, twenty, fifty years. But we try to create spaces that will stand the test of time.
Where does the biggest inspiration come from?
I think the space itself is usually our biggest inspiration. We really take our cues from the homes and try to listen to our guts when it comes to design decisions.
Don’t you simply want to stay and live there forever after transforming a place in the way that you like?
No. We have a few moments here and there during the process where we feel that way for sure, but by the end we’ve been living in the space very intensely for 4-5 months and are excited to move on to the next thing.
Overall, how many different spaces have you designed/redesigned?
We are right now working on two homes, which when we’re finished will bring us up to eight complete home renovations. In addition to what we’ve worked there are other ten houses where we only redid the kitchen or a few selected rooms.
Do you only work in your area or travel to other places to create there too?
We got our big start in Upstate NY, so most of our work continues to be up there, but we’re more than happy to travel for the right job. Aside from upstate, we’ve done work in Philadelphia, New York City, Long Island, Chattanooga, and London.We’re very open to travel. It’s sort of our whole design plan. We don’t have our own home, so we travel to where the work is. That might change one day, but for now we’re happy to be going from one job to the next with big long vacations in between.