Wednesday, May 26

Profile: Jan Showers

Jan Showers once commented, “Glamour is grace and charm. It is being interested as well as interesting. Real glamour is actually subtle.” All of these characteristics could just as easily apply to Jan.

I can vividly remember the first time that I came across her work in the late 90’s. While flipping through the pages of my magazine, I became as intrigued by the elegant blonde, as the decidedly elegant and sensual interiors she had created. Venetian glass, pale silks, sculptural lamps, books and magnificent mirrors all played a supporting role in the rooms—all trademarks of her work.

I still think Dallas-based writer Rebecca Sherman summed it up best when she wrote, “A serene Grace Kelly in To Catch a Thief might have been Showers’ perfect client.” Certainly there is always a nod to old Hollywood glamour in the rooms she designs. Like most successful designers, Jan always relies on her innate sense of style, her inherited past and her acquired passion to create beauty and glamour.

Don't forget that Jan has graciously offered a personalized, signed copy of her book Glamorous Rooms to one All the Best reader. To be entered in the drawing, simply leave a comment in today's or yesterday's post telling me which type of accessories you collect or what you love most in the photos. All of the photos in this post are from my visit to Jan's wonderful showroom in Dallas.

What inspires your designs?
Color. The color of a particular body of water has inspired entire houses or rooms. Or I may see a photograph with a certain combination of colors in a magazine or online and that will influence what I am thinking about for a project or my showroom.

Nature. Just being outside with robins, cardinals, Monarch Butterflies amongst huge old trees and the flowers in the garden at our country house inspires me more than I can say. That is where I do most of my writing and am the most creative—thoughts began to flow when I am there.

Movies. I love almost any movie from 1938 and all of the 1940’s. Especially all of Hitchcock’s movies from both the forties and fifties—you just can’t beat his work for pure, unadulterated glamour.

Books and Magazines. Both have been sources of inspiration for me since I was a child, and, more recently, there are a few design and fashion blogs that I love.

What inspired you in your early career?
Growing up in small town in Texas during the 50’s and 60’s, I studied a lot of magazines and books. Both fuelled my desire to be a part of both the design and fashion worlds. I specifically remember in the early ‘90’s seeing a photograph in House and Garden of an entry hall Syrie Maugham designed in a Mayfair flat in London. There was a wonderful Chinoiserie paper on the walls and a stunning mirrored commode. I knew when I saw that photo that brown furniture would not play much of a role in my life.

What is your most prized possession?
Since I don’t consider my husband and children possessions, I would have to say our house in the country—it is my dream house and is truly Home to me. What better possession than Home? I guess my dog Sweetie is my possession too, so Sweetie and my home make for a tie!

Who would you most like to collaborate with on a project?
As for a client, I would love to collaborate on a project with Gwyneth Paltrow. I love her personal style and her approach to life. Professionally I would love to collaborate with Peter Marino because I love the detail in his work and Albert Hadley because his work has always inspired me. And of course Frances Elkins. I know that is impossible, but that would be a dream. Her work is truly timeless.

What is your favorite luxury in life?
Having enough time to do everything I want to do AND work in time on the weekends for a great lunch on my terrace in the country and a nap afterwards!

What is your idea of earthly happiness?
Spending time with my family and great friends.

How do you define glamour?
I put so much thought into this when I was writing Glamorous Rooms! To summarize all of those thoughts, I would say that glamour is a combination of timelessness, simplicity, originality, and unqualified confidence in good taste. When all of these elements are present, there is glamour. Also, when someone feels authentic in their own rooms, they have created a Glamorous Room.

What did you enjoy most about working on Glamorous Rooms?
I truly cannot pick one thing. There was nothing I didn’t enjoy. Putting all of the existing photography together was such fun (as well as a nice walk down memory lane). Our weeklong photo shoot, headed by Jeff McNamara, to add new photography was wonderful. I had such a great team. The writing was a dream, as I got to work with my nephew, Drew Smith, who is a fabulously talented writer and one of the funniest humans on the planet. Not to mention that we got to do it on Orcas Island where I was staying for a month—heaven.

The book signings were really wonderful. I will always remember each and every one of them and the interesting people I met along the way. It was a dream come true (which sounds so trite, but a completely true statement) and the accomplishment of a long desired goal come to fruition.

Who has most influenced your direction in life?
My mother was the most influential person as far as style, taste and a passion for all of the beauty I see in the world. She taught me to have a sense of appropriateness as well, which I still find invaluable. I inherited my father’s sense of reality and his good instincts. He also encouraged (maybe insisted) that I get a degree in business, which I am forever grateful to have. My husband has been a huge influence because he is incredibly supportive of all I do—that gives a girl a lot of confidence!

Name one thing people would be surprised to learn about you?
That I have a practical side, and, that I love to cook. I also love mentoring all of the young women and men who work for me, it has been one of the happiest surprises of running my businesses. I truly enjoy that experience on a daily basis.

Profile and photos by Ronda Carman


Unknown said...

Jan has those same "to die for" qualities I see in French women.
Intriguing without effort.
And she carries them into her designs...beautiful.

The-Countrypolitan said...

This is a really nice interview. Ms. Showers is as thoughtful and deliberate in her answers as she is in her design work.

What catches my attention in the photos of her designs are the gorgeous lighting fixtures she selects. They are as much an art piece as they are a source for functional or atmospheric lighting. Juxtaposed with her use of mirrors and mirrored furniture pieces increases their affects. ~Terri

Lisa said...

I love Jan Showers! I actually had a chance to see one of her interiors in person and it was stunning.... My favorite elements of her work? Her use of color and
the feminine/glamorous quality of her decorating style.

Rox said...

Your design is an inspiration for me. Not only beautiful but functional

wish4peace said...

Not only are the rooms beautiful I actually enjoy the unique angles that they photo's are shot at. The photos have great lighting and composition

izzy said...

I love the lamps and the block pillows. Jan's style is timeless. I have just started collecting more interesting gold mirrors, wondering how I lived this long without them.

Emily said...

The mirrored fireplace is amazing. Jan's projects are a work of art and I love all the elements she uses. Great interview!

Jennifer said...

Your posts on Jan Showers have been very interesting to read and the photographs of her work are beautiful. You asked what your readers collect as far as accessories? For me, I would have to say books. They are everywhere in my home and I don't think I could be without them.

Michele from Boston said...

I have loved Jan Showers' work from the first I saw of it. The glamour, the sparkling Venetian glass pieces, the flowing lines and wonderful color combinations. I especially warmed to her description in your interview of mentoring those who work for her - something I have found to be quite rare in people I have worked for over my design career. Bravo! A signed copy of her book would be such a treat. Thank you, Ronda.

mary said...

Hi Rhonda, I love your posts on Jan Showers--beautifully classic lady. As for collections: I used to collect 17th and 18th c. Spanish brass candlesticks and now I collect 18th/very early 19thc. Mexican paintings or Santos. Also love small abstract works on paper and great frames, oops-forgot about the chinese export addiction. Thanks for asking.

Erika said...

Beautiful style, definitely timeless and elegant. Aspirational!!

lisa walsh | allied ASID said...

The colors of the Murano glass lighting and accessories that are a signature of Jan Showers' glamorous interiors remind me of the watery white, blue, and green glazes on the Song dynasty porcelains in my collection of Chinese ceramics. The colors are just amazing---on both!

Tricia said...

I love Jan Showers comment that she knew brown furniture would not play a big part in her life. It does not play much of a part in mine either. I am moving and plan to make "glamour" the key element in my new home.
Tricia Heliker

Anonymous said...

The great thing about Jan Shower's work is a quality of timelessness. Her rooms never look dated. I'm currently collecting antique cake stands and Thai celadon.

Pangaea said...

I think that one important component of a glamorous space is understatement. Glamour doesn't "shout" at you. As far as your question on what accessories I collect, I love surrounding myself with art that has humor to it. I think a good sense of humor injects some real personal warmth into a home. said...

Jan is one of Dallas finest treasures! Timeless and exceptional design!

Kim said...

What style! Thanks for sharing this interview.

Unknown said...

Hi Ronda. I just recently found your blog and I must say I am captivated by it. Thank you for sharing all your thoughts and bringing all things wonderful to me as a reader.

Jan Showers is amazing. I especially love her use of color and light, showcasing translucent imagery and composition her rooms are like a Monet masterpiece - all things emphasized with light and color but in the most subtle way. Her work is the epitome of elegance and class and surely is timeless. Upon reading your interview with her, I am intrigued to learn more about Jan.

I found it quite interesting that she is influenced by color as I am as well. I constantly flip thru pages of all my magazines and rip out and place in binders things that inspire me, and one section I have is a section on "color".

Thank you for this inspiring piece.

Loleowki said...

I love the colored glass and the comments about her mother.

traci zeller designs said...

I collect coffee table books ... and a signed copy of Jan's book would be amazing. I love her work, especially her mixtures of mirrored pieces, glass, and metallics.

sally forth said...

The Bird Table! I collect bird themed things and that table is wonderful!

Unknown said...

I love Jan Showers' definition of glamour- what a perfect way to capture the depth of glamour in her design. In looking at pictures of rooms she has designed, there is always a sense or peacefulness and balance, but it is never boring. While her use of color is subtle, it is still powerful enough to create visual interest. Jan Showers is definitely inimitable and inspirational!

Cristin // Simplified Bee said...

She is one of the best decorators today. Great interview!


My Galveston Cottage said...

Enjoyed the post! She conveys such elegant style.

Nancy from Alabama said...

If I can only choose one favorite in these photographs it must be her lamps----each and every base is a work of art and their shades complement them perfectly!

todd haley said...

great interview! have loved her work since i first spied it years ago -- one comment re definition of glamour - i would say that you do not have to have "unqualified confidence in good taste" but rather if you have "unqualified confidence" - you have good taste -- much as jan does -

Allyson said...

Glamorous she is -- polished woods, shimmery surfaces and no dingy colors or fabrics. My bet is her favorite Hitchcock movies are probably those with Grace Kelly (as are mine)!! To Catch a Thief had Grace in diamonds, and I love to collect vintage rhinestone pieces from the '40's. I inherited my Aunt's Eisenberg Ice and enjoy hunting for more. I've used them as napkin rings, decorations on Santos' and even on lamps. Cheers, Allyson Wonderland

Jessica Claire said...

love love love Jan Showers!
Thanks so much for posting a great interview - it's great to hear how rewarding mentoring her staff is.

Her book is currently sitting on my cocktail table but I couldn't resist taking off the jacket to reveal the fabulous leopard print!