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2011 Design Masters

Theresa Cassagne

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Julie Neill

Who are the principals of your firm/business? I’m the owner of the business, and I also design all of the custom pieces. I consider myself exceedingly lucky to have the most amazing group of people who work for me – artisans, technical people and sales staff.
What is the scope of your profession? My chief vocation is that of lighting designer and creator, but I came to this profession by way of a degree in fine arts. So I look at my job as creating useful pieces in a very artful way. I truly relish the process of both designing the pieces as well as having a hand in their production. I also am a shop-owner and do a bit of interior design work, mainly for clients who ask me to get involved in projects where my lighting will be the focus.
What sets you apart? I think what sets me apart goes back to the fact that I started out as an artist. The lighting design grew directly out of seeing a need for special pieces and knowing that I could find a way to create them. Since we create each piece to order, we are unique in being able to offer completely custom designs both to our retail clients and to those in the design trade.
Why is what you do important to New Orleans? Most agree that the lighting we make has a definite New Orleans style. We are living proof that a creative and productive business can be very successful here. We have a good bit of recognition on the national level, and within the last few years, we have gotten representation in several designer showrooms in cities like Washington, D.C.; Atlanta; Miami; and Boston. So we are bringing national attention to a line of artisan-created products that come from this amazing and artful city.
How does New Orleans affect your profession? What are the benefits and challenges? The city of New Orleans is the single greatest source of inspiration for what I do. Just being alive in this beautiful city makes me feel creative.

The main benefit of being in business here is the people: the wonderfully creative artisans who work with me to create our products and also those who come to us to acquire our pieces. I am also able to show the work of local artists in my shop.

Another benefit is being nestled on Magazine Street amongst other shops owned by amazing people who have a fabulous array of gorgeous and interesting wares. The merchants of Magazine Street are quite a diverse and interesting group.

Another asset is the word-of-mouth way that business gets done. If you need to find a product or service or have something made, there is usually someone you know who knows someone who can do it for you. Likewise, our business relies very much on people referring other people to us.
What else would you be doing if you weren’t doing this? I think I would be painting more paintings. I also have a secret desire to win the lottery and rescue all the beautiful but decaying buildings that this city will lose if they are not saved!

Jon Vaccari
interior design

Who are the principals of your firm/business? Jon Vaccari

What is the scope of your profession? Interior design

What sets you apart? My fresh take on classicism – I respect the traditions inherent in the “old New Orleans” style, but I update them for life in the 21st century.

It’s all about the mix, really. While my rooms are often anchored with a fine antique piece (I’m fond of the French 1940s designers: Arbus, Pascaud, Leleu), I’ll combine it with a more streamlined Italian 1970s cocktail table, say, in Lucite and brass. Quality will always mix with quality, provided that you are working with pieces you love.

Why is what you do important to New Orleans? My shop offers a collection of furnishings and appointments unlike any other in the Deep South. Design enthusiasts can travel the world here! The counterpoint we provide, relative to the more “traditional” antique stores for which New Orleans is already well-known, brings a new perspective to the design community here.

How does New Orleans affect your profession? What are the benefits and challenges? The variety of cultural life in New Orleans is an unending source of inspiration and benefit. Encouraging others to see old things in a new light can be quite a challenge but well-worth the effort sometimes required.

What else would you be doing if you weren’t doing this? Restoring a villa in the Veneto and enjoying life there with my family.

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