James Saavedra

When I found James blog, Decor Fellow, I was SO excited for the chance to read what inspires this L.A based designer and consultant, product developer, furniture designer and TV star (TLC's "Clean Sweep"). James Saavedra is an incredibly talented and front running designer who can pretty much do anything he puts his mind to. James was kind enough to answer some questions for simplygrove readers to enjoy! Thanks James!

When did you discover that you loved design?
That is a good question. I don’t think it was so much of a discovery…it kind of just is. If that makes sense? I think often we do not see the gifts that come naturally to us because these gifts just seem natural…dare I say, ordinary. So I would say that my love for design has been a constant. From the times as a child picking out distinct shades of blue for my bedroom, or “painting” with a Lite-Brite. Honestly, being creative was a way to escape to a world where I felt normal…like myself. I think it was my coping mechanism. It was not until much later that I realized being creative was something I was “good” at---and it was not until much, much later that I realized that design could actually be my path.

What has been your favorite venture in the design world?
My past previous venture has to be earning my degree in International Product Development and Manufacturing from FIDM. I was mentored by the Pottery Barn and we got to create product lines for an upcoming Spring season. I was able to travel to Europe to learn how to forecast trends and experience how fashion influences home goods. I was able to travel to Asia to source manufacturing. It was such an eye-opening experince both professionally and culturally. My focus was creating “higher-end” goods but still offering them within the P.B. pricing structure.
Currently, I am most excited to be launching JAK Studio Collection with my partner and friend Kelly LaPlante. It’s a furniture line that is all about smart, sophisticated silhouettes while maintaining sustainable practices. Our furniture is quite sexy –if I do say so myself! 

Do you feel more comfortable on screen or with clients one on one?
First, let me say that Clean Sweep was a terrific learning curve. One that I still can pull from today. Being on camera is much different than meeting face to face. Lines can be scripted…situations enhanced...designs altered. After all, it is TV right? I am lucky, I guess, that I can feel comfortable with a crew of twenty around me. I would certainly entertain another TV gig…given the right circumstances. However, I must admit that there is nothing like developing a genuine and lasting relationship with a client. To me it’s just more personal. 
Will you always be involved with some aspect of design?

What is a goal you have for your business?
My goals are so varied—I think that comes natural being a creative individual. There are many skills that come naturally that I would love to nurture and see what happens. That said, I do have a couple goals narrowed down:
  1. I truly believe that everyone deserves the best life – one with beauty and style so it is my goal to create various product lines that will bring this belief into people’s lives. I am currently working on a trademark and copy right for these ventures. Plus I am in the middle or a re-design of my web site.
  2. I believe in quality over quantity so I aim to have solid, quality projects over a roster full of so-so ones.
  3. I am a big believer in giving back and that education can be a fantastic springboard for advancement. So, I would like to offer at risk youth the tools to design and ultimately be able to provide an education for them to explore their talents.
  4. I really have been dreaming about a little prefab home on an acre or two of land to escape to. I am thinking LV Homes. They are amazing.
  5. To live well and happily. To love well and happily. (I know it is not a business goal but I think it is important.)
  6. To inspire others to consider the importance of every detail and experience a life well lived.

What inspired you to start a blog?
In my first post, I mentioned that my blog actually was born out of a need to be more organized and to create a virtual notebook of designs and inspirations that, too often, end up in a pile or a folder. I was totally unfamiliar with blogs until I stumbled upon one while searching for a photographer. Hours later, I found myself still reading blog after blog. Honestly, I figured that I would be my only reader…maybe a close friend or two. I never imagined I would stumble upon such a fantastic and welcoming community. Each day I discover a new blog and a wonderful new person. I still don’t think I have my head wrapped around it.

Favorite Coffee or Tea Drink?
If its coffee then it’s has to be an Americano with Almond milk or Soy. If its tea…any green tea will do.
Favorite dinner meal?
Hmm. Now this one is so tough. I am going to say my favorite dinner meal is one that is shared with good friends and loved one. If the company is great the food is not that important.

Do you prefer muted tones or bright tones in design?
I prefer to live in a soothing environment with pops of bright tones. But I really like all tones—it is really dependant on the application.
Favorite Design book of all time?
Hands down--Learning to See by Vicente Wolf. It was the first book that really hit home and made me say “yeah. This is it!” I am a firm believer that design really goes beyond a pretty room. As Vicente says so eloquently, “ You come to understand the soul of a space.” I believe you can discover so much about yourself through your space. It really is an extension of you…it is much more about becoming aware of what brings you joy than it is about the perfect furniture arrangement.
What would you call your personal design taste?
It is so funny how taste evolves as you travel through life. At one point I was all about bright bold colors…read turquoise cabinets! But I find, at least in this moment, I gravitate most to a world that is filled with soft whites and ivory; accented with warm metals like bronze and punctuated with dots of silvery lilac and buttery yellow. 
I can see that I lean towards a classic line but one that is tweaked slightly toward a modern take. I am a proponent of tactile senses and textures. I believe in a mix of high and low. I like to add a bit of sparkle or shimmer. I believe that each and every detail matters. Above all I design with the belief that when you walk into to a room you should have an emotional connection.

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