Indianapolis interior designer Jamie Gibbs is featured in Designer Window Fashions, a new book by renowned design industry leader Charles Randall. “Some illustrations are from Mr. Gibbs’ international design practice, but several are of Indianapolis rooms,” notes the email about the book. “Two of note are a library and a living room created for Indianapolis homes and fabricated by local area workrooms.”
Opening the book to the photograph of Jamie Gibbs’ full-title page dramatic swag of floor to ceiling gold-hued draperies, with subtlety hidden blinds, elicited a “wow” from me, even though no one was within hearing distance. That pushed me to amplify my reaction to Gibbs’ window treatments featured throughout the book.
It’s not easy getting into a Randall book, informs the promo. Gibbs got tapped on merit along several paths — his fabric designs as well as his use of fabrics to bring your personality to the fore with window treatments. One has to turn all 450 pages to find photos and further comment on Gibbs’ work; there’s no index of names of the featured interior artists, all gaining my admiration because my idea of a window is to let the sun shine in and don’t do anything to embarrass neighbors passing by.
Gibbs’ treatment for floor to ceiling arched windows, and an arched doorway leading to a patio and sculpted garden is featured on page 20, and opens the book’s section on “Draperies and Curtains.” Page 115 draws attention to Gibbs’ stunning top treatment for a room requiring quieter elegance, and he’s expert with a less-is-more approach, when decorative hardware showcases simplicity of fabric to frame a French door (page 370).
Credits are given to Nancy Martz of Maple Street Designs in Noblesville for the library’s fabrics. “Nancy used silks designed by Mr. Gibbs for Plumridge Silks of Santa Monica, CA,” reads the descriptive prose. Gibbs equally credits fabrics by others: “The top-down / bottom-up Duette shades are by Hunter Douglas.”
Gibbs solved an installation problem posed by arched casement windows “because the drapes are very heavy, and the mounting rod needed to snug the curve of the window,” he said. What follows is designer-speak beyond my ken. Suffice to say Gibbs understands how to install for the desired end result: “The drapes boast an Italian string to draw them into a graceful sweep over the windows.”
Gibbs also brings attention to Kelly Drake of KD Dezigns in Brownsburg, Ind., for her fabrications of more fabric designs by Gibbs.
Bypassing any urge to enthrall you with all I’ve learned from poring over “Designer Window Fashions,” here’s my email interview with Jamie Gibbs, of Jamie Gibbs Associates located at 120 West 73rd St., Indianapolis.
RITA KOHN: Each photo attributed to JamieGibbsAssociates.com in Charles Randall’s new book expresses warmth and vibrancy, with the feel of walking into an unfolding event that also invites an extension to the outdoors. What's your backstory that brought you to window fashions and interior and garden designs?
JAMIE GIBBS: I have studied architecture, interior design, landscape architecture and horticulture at Purdue and then Columbia University. I hold too many degrees… My interest in the built environment started as a young man. My family owned many properties. We lived in some, but most were rental properties in period or historic homes. As an example, there was a time when the family owned twelve properties in Woodruff Place. These were all rentals. As a kid, I helped my father and two uncles maintain the properties. I learned the basics and more from men with construction in their blood (though not necessarily good design). My mother, aunts and grandmother had great eyes for design.
I grew up surrounded by beautiful things. By high school, Shortridge, I was tuning in on the importance of history and good design. I had great teachers like Ian Frazer and Geraldine McCrea at that time. My education was honed in the classroom and through practical experience like summer internships at Mark Holeman, Inc. and The Municipal Art Society in New York.
My love of gardening comes from the blue skies … No one else in my childhood was a great gardener. I watched and copied neighbors and adult friends. By ten years old, I was maintaining all the family gardens. Purdue took all my practical knowledge and made sense of it, correcting my many mistakes and misconceptions.
KOHN: What now, as we sequester at home, should we be considering buffing up our windows? How can a new window treatment be an uplifting investment when we are at home for almost all of our activities? What should we know about ourselves as we set out to design a makeover?
GIBBS: I think the last few months have helped people to better define themselves. Some people are nesters and have weathered isolation with ease. Others have discovered how important social interaction is to them. Somewhere within these two extremes, people also have been coping with children, budgets, stay at-home-work, and perhaps even unemployment. In all scenarios, we have been given the opportunity to reflect on how our houses (and decor) work for us. I assume most people see some room for improvement.
Creating designated at-home work space may be a new priority. Creating spaces that are child friendly, craft friendly and even dining friendly will be on everyone’s mind. Based on my conversations, I see people wanting the following:
1. The ability to isolate within the house
2. Vastly improved media rooms, kitchens and baths
3. New beds and luxury linens
4. Stylist pajamas, casual wear and BATHROBES!
5. Flexible window treatments
A. Privacy when you want it
B. Views have become a major real estate asset!
C. Energy saving treatments
KOHN: I'm thinking about that one window in an original log cabin built in the new site of Indianapolis 200 years ago; what materials would John Wesley McCormick, Jr., have had to bring with him from Connersville (and ditto for the pioneers who followed) to have that window as part of his new home constructed from freshly hewn logs? What would have dressed the window, and hence the home, from the interior?
GIBBS: At that time, protection from the “elements” far exceeded decorative elements. His cabin probably had an interior “barn door” at each window. If any Soft Treatment was present, it would have been simple rod pocket panels. They would have been linen or rough cotton and very plain, stripes or perhaps a Buffalo plaid.
KOHN: Fast forward 200 years; what now is particular about windows as part of overall interior/exterior design in Indianapolis? Do we have a niche that we need to showcase as per destination tourism, when such a thing again is possible?
GIBBS: Indianapolis has a wealth of 19th century housing. Many are now in historic districts and still privately occupied. Some have been restored with period details, but most have been adapted to modern trends showcasing simpler window treatments. Indy saw another wave of impressive houses built between 1920 and WWII. Just stroll Meridian-Kessler as a good example. These homes translate to modern lifestyles and many contain fabulous window architectural details.
Today’s trend is to showcase the architectural elements of a house like the window casings and other moldings in a room, not hide them. Past design trends for heavy and often fussy window treatments obscured the walls and other architectural details surrounding a window. Shortly after WWII we saw suburbia develop and large picture windows on cramped lots required privacy screening. Hard treatments such as shutters, blinds and shades under drapes were a good solution ... and still are.
KOHN: What more should NUVO readers know about GIBBS Associates interior design and landscape architecture firm?
GIBBS: We love working with homeowners to create unique spaces that fit their lifestyle, budget and taste. Jamie and Paco are very involved at Newfields. Jamie is on the Board of the Indianapolis Opera, along with serving on committees at numerous other non-profits mostly in the decorative and performing arts. Paco and I both give tours at Newfields, but these tours haven’t started back up yet.