A journey into LaLa Land

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Maxime Jacquet’s introduction into the world of design is far from conventional yet his story is strangely familiar, like a classic storyline to a TV show or a film. It is the story of a boy growing up in the small Belgian town Liege, but he does not quite belong or fit in here. Eventually, chances present themselves to him, and he arrives in a place where he can live be his true self. What makes Maxime’s story interesting is his very different and unique entry into and attitude towards the creative world.

Maxime tells me he has a background in business, but he believes that unlike business, design is not something one can learn, but something you are born to do. “My creativity was an innate quality, and I thought interior design school was not something that would benefit me long term.” To someone who has spent the good part of 7 years studying different aspects to architecture, this statement seems a bit hard to swallow. Were all those years useless and did I in fact not learn anything?

Although I agree with Maxime Jacquet’s statement that “… taste is something that is in you”, it is my belief that education and training enables one to appreciate and objectively criticise what might not be to one’s own liking. And this is exactly why I consider Maxime Jacquet to represent a fascinating new breed of designers so secure in their own taste and likings that they defy the conventional way of doing things.

How did you end up in LA?
My first client gave me the keys to his first house in Malibu. That is what initiated my relocation. I was found on MySpace actually, but my page was not a professional portfolio. I was only 19, and it displayed all of my personal work and all the “projects” I was so passionate about and proud of. This person contacted me as he saw great potential in me.

He offered me the opportunity to come work for him, and at that point, I saw this as my one chance. It was a very big decision to move to America, and I did it in three weeks. I had never been to the US, and spoke very little English. But I was not scared of moving to LA at that age. I felt relieved, as if I had finally opened the right door. I did the interior work for one house, then I did two, then I did a boat, and my business kept growing.

How did you get into the world of interior design?
I don’t really use that term – I call it “a creative world”. I need to create and not just pick things off a shelf. I build things, and note, I did not pick this industry. It picked me. I was born this way.

Has the transatlantic move changed your views on design?
Yes, I think so. American homes and spaces present options and possibilities. I always look at homes and spaces like a beautiful creative shoebox. The conveniences of American projects, is the ability to get things done more efficiently and much quicker than in other parts of the world. You rarely have limitations regarding construction and any wall can be knocked down if wanted. In Europe and other parts of the world, you are forced to design around interior structure and so the potential for creation is not as endless.

Could you sum up your style and your stylistic goals as interior decorator in a few words?
That is a question my projects and their impact should be asking the world. I don’t have just one style. Some people may say my style is crazy, some say high fashion, all meaning the same thing. I’m happy creating an impact. You may love it, hate it, but at least people are not made indifferent by what they see in my work.

How do you approach each individual project?
First I need to be inspired by the client. I cannot execute a true quality design for a client without meeting the person and knowing what their needs are, such as: what they are like and what their current lifestyle is?

How do you distinguish between personal taste and the clients’?
I do not think the word “taste” belongs in the design industry. Everyone has their own taste – it being good or bad – and their own way of interpreting others’. Everything at the moment is visual. To me, it is like a bad habit that everything today is determined by what we see. Why do we not ask, how it makes us feel? So, I do not limit myself to a taste code. I simply don’t care what people think and only care about creating something unique and revolutionary for each individual client.

Your projects could all be conceived as ultra-masculine. Would you agree with this?
It is exactly what I said before. You may look at it as ultra masculine, however to a client, he or she may feel it makes him or her feel very feminine. However, I do think my design structures are sexy and I like intimacy in a home. The living room, the kitchen and bedroom all are equally inviting. There is the saying, “wear the little black dress” and it is the same with interiors. You can never go wrong with a black wall. It will always work.

Your approach to branding is very different from your colleagues’ in the sense that you are your own brand. Is this a conscious choice and what do you hope to gain?
I think the main difference is that I am so young, and I would never be anywhere without my clients. But also the fact that I stay so true to who I am benefits my work. I respect all of my colleagues and I feel it is very important to first believe in who you are. You cannot care what people think. And you know what? We are all on the same carousel.

Lastly, tell us what your dream project and dream client would be?
All my clients are dream clients. I’ve had the pleasure of working with celebrities, businessmen, politicians and so on. Actually, I create a dream for my clients. However, eventually I want to expand into more hotels, more restaurants. I just want to impact more people in the various industries. I want to have my own perfume, line of clothes, etc. I am creating a movement.

by Runa Mathiesen

Find Maxime  on twitter and facebook

About The Author

Glass Online architecture and design writer

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