Designer Jaime Derringer on Modern Home Design
Written By: Robyn Wyman-Dill Design Milk
Photographed By: Eder Escamilla
Name: Jaime Derringer
Expert Credentials: Founder of Design-Milk.com
When Jaime Derringer got the idea to start Design Milk, it was just her. She first had to learn how to design and hand code her own website, working weeknights and weekends, then manage her own advertising and marketing, design the mag and write her own copy. Today, the online publication is your go-to for what’s new in art, architecture, interior design, furniture and decor.
It was exactly a decade ago that Jaime Derringer, who describes herself as someone who never set out with a plan, started to get the creative itch and began doodling in a sketchbook, unleashing her creative juices for bigger and better artistic expressions. That same year, Derringer decided to launch her own online publication, Design Milk, an idea which evolved quite organically from her personal search to find a good sofa. Since then, the publication that was originally started—just for fun—has earned the respect of a large subscriber base of design professionals in all design industry disciplines and is now a valued resource for home furnishings, architecture, interiors, style+fashion and modern art. We asked Derringer to share some of the highlights of her 10-year journey, which began with a simple blog.
Q: Let’s start at the very beginning, what made you realize you wanted to express yourself creatively?
Jaime Derringer: As a little girl, I liked to go to art stores. I seemed to always be exploring different avenues, like embroidery, painting and knitting and was always wanting to make things. I didn’t really come from an artistic family but I remember my dad’s sister and a cousin being very artistic. My parents were encouraging to me from the onset. But when I graduated from college in 2001, I really didn’t think too seriously about pursuing a career in art. Even though I had majored in Asian Studies and minored in Art History, my focus had turned more towards a career in communications. I ended up working for a book and newsletter publishing company and became their project manager, working on medical and pharmaceutical education platforms for doctors. It was a career I enjoyed up until 2009, when I decided to quit my day job to devote all of my time to my online magazine, Design Milk.
Q: And, the catalyst that prompted your decision to launch your online publication?
JD: Really, it arose out of a need. I was looking for a sofa for my family and that process prompted me to want to create a site, mostly for fun, to keep track of the things I like. My readership base—mainly people looking for cool designs for their home—grew quickly. After I had our baby in 2011, it really amped me up and made me really want to make as many things as possible. That year, I did a 365-day project where I made something different every day for a whole year. Which is crazy when you think about it because I had just had a baby. But, instead of it slowing me down, it really aroused my creative side—in terms of fine art and design.
Q: You’ve been called an artist, trend spotter, future of design influencer and, after reviewing your resume, we think Art-Preneur is in order as well. What influences you?
JD: (laughing) I do love what I do and fortunately, I get paid to do what I love to do. But, in terms of what influences me, I am inspired by the natural world, Japanese calligraphy and the humanity behind the design.
Q: Which home design trends do you see picking up (or dropping off) this fall? Or any new?
JD: I think we’re going to be saying goodbye to the Memphis trend this year and starting to move toward more simplistic graphic elements and shapes. I also noticed quite a bit of iridescence this year, so I’m curious to see where this trend goes. As for trends that are here to stay: pastels, copper/brass and marble.
Q: And, we understand you are also a fine artist and continue to build your body of modern art works. How?
JD: I describe my work as an unplanned exploration of shape and color using layers like Japanese calligraphy, electronic music, space exploration, sci-fi and fireworks as my guides.
I like to do series and have categorized these series into three groups. One is called the Asian Series because it draws from my experiences traveling through Japan and visiting the temples there. Then I have a Relaxation Series, which uses more repetitions in shapes on the page—much like a mantra or meditation. The third is my Abstract Series. It’s more colorful, more explosive. Over the summer, Consort Design/LA, hosted a show of my works which included three new paintings. They were very emotional pieces for me to create. Then I’ve had art shows on the East Coast and in San Diego over the years too.
Q: So what defines you best, your abstract art or your design expertise?
JD: Well, the design kind of came first for me with our magazine that provides a platform for readers to explore what is trending in design and to help them make good choices in designs for their homes. Our subscriber community now is largely made up of design professionals in all the disciplines and draws an international audience, so that inspires me to grow our standard as we go.
Out of this World: Jaime’s inspiration includes her study of the Japanese language, electronic music, celebrations/parties, fireworks, space exploration and sci-fi, undersea creatures, as well as architecture.
Dog Milk: Dog lovers rejoice! Design Milk has a sister site dedicated to modern dog design and you can discover new products and sniff out what’s beyond the chain pet stores.
A Clever Idea: A podcast dedicated to designers, Clever, is run by Jaime and fellow designer, Amy Devers.