Last month we welcomed Jennifer Fowler as Hacker’s Director of Interior Design. The appointment reflects an ongoing strategic initiative to enhance our offering of integrated architectural and interior design services. We sat down with Jennie to talk about the relationship between architecture and interiors and her vision for Hacker.
You’re known for creating modern yet warm interiors that are really timeless. What were the forces that shaped your design vision?
My father was a graphic designer and my mother a professional ballet dancer, and they instilled in me the kind of deep appreciation of the arts that fundamentally changes how you see the world. But growing up in the mountains of Colorado, in such an incredible natural setting, also really influenced the way I understand “place” and how nature and design come together in a built environment. These influences really came together after studying and working in New York, moving to Portland, and joining Allied Works.
There often is disconnect between architecture and interior design that both disciplines find frustrating. How have you bridged this divide?
Architecture and interior design approach the same problem—how to create an environment that best serves the owners or end users—from different directions. Interior design is more concerned with the human scale, the experience of a space and its material qualities while architects are operating at a building scale. In my collaborations with architects, I’ve enjoyed a level of trust that gives me a place at the table early in the design process, so our different perspectives can inform a more holistic design solution that ultimately achieves a level of poetry and responsiveness that wouldn’t be possible otherwise. This approach doesn’t limit interiors to being a seamless idea emerging from the architecture; the experience of the interior also can provide a compelling departure from the architecture. It’s about both disciplines enhancing the work of the other.
How do these ideas inform your vision for the interiors practice at Hacker?
A lot of this thinking came together in my early work on institutional and commercial projects, work that really took my passion for design to another level. After running a small practice for the last several years, the opportunity to refocus on larger-scale projects, working with a firm that thinks about place and people in the same way I do, is very exciting for me. At the same time, Corey Martin and David Keltner are taking Hacker in new directions—multifamily housing, workplace and custom residential—and I can play a role in leading this growth. That they saw interior design as an important component of their vision sets the stage for creative exploration that will help define the next chapter of Hacker’s design legacy.