Jonathan Savage has the ability to bridge traditional and contemporary styles to create memorable designs. His use of art, texture, pattern, color and fine materials and finishes showcases his refined aesthetic and appreciation for both the traditional and contemporary. He infuses his experiences into every project, making them personal and unique. Jonathan embraced his creative side as a student at American University in London, England, when he began his studies in design and architecture. After returning home to Tennessee, he continued his studies and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design from O’More College of Design. Jonathan built his career in New York working for a prestigious design firm, where he honed his talents in residential design through projects in Manhattan, the Hamptons and across the country. In 2010, Jonathan opened his own firm, SAVAGE Interior Design. We are thrilled Jonathan decided to return home and share his talents with Nashville. We are majorly crushing on him and his interiors!
What inspired you to embrace your creative side as a career?
I was raised in a family of entrepreneurs. I have been around design and creative influencers since day one. Design is where I was meant to be.
Tell us about your time in London.
I was an international business student and went abroad to study at the American University in London. Every day on the way to my business classes, I would pass creative students who were working on design projects at my school. I was more intrigued to learn about what they were creating than my own studies, so I switched majors. It was the best decision I have ever made.
Living in London was so inspirational — from the architecture to art history, everything was at your fingertips. I left there having a love for England and appreciation for British art. It was fantastic and life-changing. When I moved back to Tennessee, I started design school at the O’More College of Design, where I became president of the student body. Most recently, I served on the board and was thrilled with the merger of Belmont University and the O’More College of Design. I love and adore my alma mater.
What is your design aesthetic, and how does it set you apart?
I was raised in a very traditionally designed home on our family farm near Livingston, Tennessee, and now live in the opposite style of home. Mine is modern with clean, simple lines and mixed with contemporary designs. When living in New York City, the design work was everything from traditional to contemporary, but I am most comfortable right in the middle. I like working with a mix of styles.
My favorite artist is British, Victor Pasmore, and I collect his art and try to place a piece of his art in all of my projects as a nod to my past. I see a little bit of my life in most projects, but overall, my goal is to design projects that reflect clients who will live there.
What has been your most challenging project to date, and why? How did it help you grow as a designer?
I most recently completed a project that was a classical style home with traditional architecture, and the client had an extensive collection of contemporary art. The challenge was placing the art in a manner where it would be showcased and feel at home without dominating the spaces.
What projects are you looking forward to in 2019?
We just wrapped up a project in Nashville, where we not only designed the interior but also filled the pantry with groceries. We are still crossing our T’s and dotting our I’s on that one.
We have a large project in Memphis coming up for a repeat client. We also have several projects in the works and a few upcoming in Nashville that we are excited to start.
Currently, about 80% of our projects are located in Tennessee. Nashville is my home. And it’s good to get to be home more. I have been on the road a lot.
What is currently inspiring you?
Travel. I put forth a lot of effort to see different parts of the world and feel my projects are better due to the inspiration I get from being in specific places. Last week, I met with an artist in Venice who does acrylic and charcoal drawings and paintings, but he also compiles rigid rock crystals to make rock crystal candlesticks. It is inspiring to find a creative mind who is utilizing different mediums and crafting them into new forms of art. These will definitely find a home in an upcoming project.
I am always on the hunt, whether it is for things to buy or just to take inspiration from. A camera is my best friend.
As an art collector, what role does art play in your spaces?
I prefer clients to find art that speaks to them. More and more, we are designing residences around art, which a very good starting point for interiors. We, as the designers, often put art in last as the finishing touch, but I think if you can start with a piece of art you can set the palette. I don’t think art necessarily has to match the room. I also love white walls, so you can easily swap out art from time to time.
I have art in every corner of my life. It simply makes me happy.
Do you have a favorite space in the home to design?
The dining room! To me, the dining room is where you have a friend over for dinner, entertain and make memories. It is a space that can tell stories. It is also a room you can use formally or informally, depending on how you want to live. A dining table tells so many stories, and that is why a dining room is my favorite space to design. I’ve even custom designed tables for clients to really capture their lifestyle.
If you could design one person’s home, who would it be?
That is hard! I would probably choose Elton John and Dolly Parton. Elton John has a very unique and creative style along with a great stance on art; we collect a lot of the same artists.
For Dolly Parton, I could get into some rhinestones if I had to. ‘wink’
What are three household items you couldn’t live without?
I have a hand sculpture by Karl Springer that was a gift to Albert Hadley that I bought at auction. It is my most prized possession because of who designed it and also who owned it.
The second piece I couldn’t live without is a recent piece of art by Atlanta Artist, Joseph Guay. It is a photograph of a light feather, on top of a black background under resin. It is pretty spectacular.
The third thing is my entire closet (including a few bright orange boxes).
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