David Jimenez: Hallmark’s New Hall of Famer
Last week, in a small post about bathrooms, I included a few photos of the fabulous white bathroom of David Jimenez that was included in a profile of his Kansas City home in the August issue of House Beautiful magazine. Soon after, I received a comment on my blog from David’s friend Zim Loy, an editor at Kansas City Spaces magazine, which led to a message from David and an offer for more photos and information. That is the power of the internet my friends!
I first want to start at the end and work back. The reason I was struck by your home and originally wanted to profile it was that your aesthetic reminded me so much of the aesthetic of Ron Marvin, who’s apartment was obsessed over by everyone when it was featured on Apartment Therapy’s Smallest Coolest Contest earlier this year. You both lived in San Francisco and worked in visual merchandising for The Gap and Pottery Barn and are obsessed with lamps! I swear you two were separated at birth!
I was curious if you know Ron and if your sense of style was inherent to you from the beginning or if it’s something you picked up after working at these retailers?
Ron is a great friend of mine and we’ve know each other for many years. I am so proud of him and the success he has achieved. You’re right, in many ways we were separated at birth. I think we are inspired by similar things and it shows in our aesthetics.
My sense of design was not influenced by Pottery Barn or Restoration Hardware, it actually happened in reverse. My career at Pottery Barn started in a serendipitous way. I had a friend over for dinner, who at the time, was a buyer at Pottery Barn. He saw my house and felt that my design sense was a good fit with the new direction the company was taking- this was in 1996. I resigned from the GAP after eleven years and started the job without a formal background in visual merchandising for home stores. I relied on my intuition and brought to Pottery Barn the things that I have always enjoyed creating in my own spaces at home- rooms that are warm, inviting, layered and that look collected.
Now, back to the beginning. A lot of creative types either know from the very beginning that they want a career in say fashion, art or design, or they resist that urge altogether and go to work in finance or law until they can’t take it any more and feel that they have to pursue their true passion. Which was it for you?
My career has developed in a more organic way than most. I started as a sales associate at the GAP in 1985 and worked my way up the ranks. After becoming a store manager, I realized that there were two things that I loved about my job. One was training and developing people (I get such a great feeling from mentoring someone and then watching them succeed). The second thing I enjoyed was visual merchandising. I wasn’t sure why but it just came naturally to me. I shifted my career at the GAP from management to visual merchandising and piloted the company’s first Regional Visual Merchandising program. After that, it was clear to me that I wanted to pursue a career in store presentation and design.
I know from your bio that you grew up in New York City, how do you think that affected your sense of style?
Ever since I was old enough to move my parent’s living room furniture around in the Bronx, I have been passionate about interiors. My first real apartment was in Hoboken, NJ and I shared it with a good friend that was a dancer. I loved going to thrift stores back then and schlepping pieces back home on the PATH train. I didn’t have a lot of money to spend but the smartest looking bedroom in the house was mine.
You shop a lot at thrift stores, flea markets and estate sales. I think your home is a testament to what can be done without spending millions of dollars and decorating with things you love. Now that your house is “complete”, do you still find yourself bringing things home?
I’ve always had a need to set-up my spaces pretty quickly in order to feel grounded. As a result, it’s always a hectic pace when I move into a new home. No rest until the place is completely pulled together. The great thing is that once I am finished, then it’s really all about enjoying the house and sharing it with friends. I still love shopping thrift stores and flea markets, the difference is that I don’t feel the pressure about the missing side table or credenza. Now, I get to calmly pick up pieces along the way that speak to me and that add more layers to the house.
I love your entire home but I especially love your dressing room. It reminds me of a gentleman’s club or the shop of a bespoke tailor. I don’t think a lot of people would think to put a pedestal table in the middle of the room and create such a special place. What inspired you to do that?
A good friend in Kansas City has a beautiful dark wood paneled dressing room with a matching island in the center of the room where he places his suitcase when he packs for trips. I loved the function and the idea of having a table that grounded the room. I found the double pedestal table at a thrift store and thought that the lines of the table were a perfect match for the antique armoires I had purchased as closets. I painted it shiny black and put it on top of a black rug in the center of the room. It’s brought a whole new dimension to pulling out the suitcase and getting ready for a trip.
I know you have amassed a huge CD collection. Ever hear of an iPod? I’m teasing but they are great for making playlists. What are you listening to now?
I have more than 2,000 CD’s. I enjoy all genres but am a little old school about how I purchase new music- I prefer buying CD’s over downloading them. I love going to the store, hitting the listening stations and becoming familiar with new artists. These days I can’t get enough of Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black”. She reminds me of a cross between Dinah Washington and Etta James. Her previous CD called “Frank” is great as well. I also like Brandi Carlile’s “The Story”, Pink Martini’s latest “Hey Eugene” and have recently been listening to some old stuff like Jimmy Scott, Aretha and Tony Bennett. Great choices! I LOVE Amy Winehouse and Pink Martini!
You’ve said that your library is your favorite place in the house, what are you reading now?
I enjoy the library because the room is clubby, warm and the speakers are the bassiest in the house. It’s usually the room that most dinner parties or get-togethers end up in. It’s been a little while since I made time to read a book in the library but my last favorite was Happy Times by Lee Radziwill. It’s a photographic journal by Jackie O’s younger sister. An easy read that’s heartfelt and features beautiful photos. Another great choice! I consider Happy Times a classic!
You recently joined Hallmark and will be unveiling a new look in their stores soon. How did that come about and what do you plan to do? I shop at a tiny little Hallmark on 59th Street in NYC that seems like a lost cause, will it get an update too?
I am part of a team that is repositioning the retail brand. It’s an exciting time at Hallmark and it reminds me of the energy that I experienced when Banana Republic, Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware were going through big changes. We have a new store design aesthetic that is slowly rolling out to many of our stores. It’s hard to say whether or not the store in your neighborhood will get the new look and feel but what I am positive about, is that you will see new products in all of our stores with a point of view that is a lot fresher. Check out the new Sound Cards next time you go by the store. I think you’ll love them. I’m more of a Shoe Box Card girl myself but I might check them out!
You are on the board of the Kansas City chapter of DIFFA, Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS. How important is it to you to give back?
It’s wonderful to be a part of an organization that does so much for the community. 90 percent of all of the proceeds from each of our events remains in our city. This means that we are able to help people in need locally in Kansas City. We are a working board which means that we roll up our sleeves and produce each one of our events through our own creativity, passion and drive. It’s also been a wonderful way to meet so many talented people here in Kansas City. It feels great to contribute creatively to a cause that matters so much.
Photos by Tim Cargill courtesy of David Jimenez and Landon Collis for Kansas City Spaces