A bit of personal history…

All journeys start somewhere.  My first memories are from Hawaii.  My mother was an aspiring watercolorist and I would join her traveling around the islands while she learned to see the things in front of her and translate that to paper.  As fantastic as this sounds, for me, it really meant being covered in mud most of the time…while she was on-location painting landscapes and fishing villages.  Those memories hung (literally) around our house throughout my childhood.  Connections are formed very early in life and often we don’t know what they are.  The history of my first memories is something that became not only decorative, but important as a constant reminder of real experience as I meandered though the house.  My appreciation for what that would mean later in life was not apparent until very recently.

One of the things my mother taught me was “to see” instead of simply “to look”…to notice the details, to feel the textures, to hear the sounds.  In other words to inhabit the place in which you are.

My Grandfather made furniture in his spare time, turning a love for carpentry into furniture and other objects that surrounded me throughout my life.  There is something very different about making things rather than simply buying things.  When you make something, you understand the process, care and skill it takes to take raw material and render a designed object.  While that’s not often easy to accomplish in the modern world, the idea of craft and personalization is something we can all relate to.

These pair of early influences prompted an appreciation for composition, a love for natural materials and an almost constant longing to create real and intimate spaces, tailored to not only the lives we have lived, but those that we would aspire to.  In terms of design, it is something that motivates my decisions about what works for one person and not another.  Design is rarely universal, however, good design is almost always recognizable.

At this point in life, educational credentials rarely matter, the experience of life teaches far more than the classroom ever will.  For those that need to know, I studied at Georgia Tech where I had the good fortune to meet and work with Giuseppe Zambonini, an Italian architect who worked side-by-side with Carlo Scarpa.  If you think back to the painting expeditions with my mom and you know anything of Carlo Scarpa, you’ll see the immediate connection.  A year in Paris at the Ecole Des Beaux Arts and then on to Princeton for a Master’s Degree.  Two great things happened there.  First, I met Michael Graves who taught me how architecture tells a story.  Rooted in traditional planning techniques, the spaces he created were fanciful, highly articulate, and often controversial.  Like them or not, they were clearly organized and very much about who they were created for.  The other was becoming involved with the Art and Archaeology Department at the University.  A three-month-long journey to Greece, documenting Roman ruins along the way was pivotal to my understanding of how what we build leaves more than a marker of where we were, but insight into our aspirations.

It is with that insight, that level of understanding and that love for the craft of creation that I approach my work, your project, and our shared pursuit of the personal connection to our world that only great design can bring.

Joel Kelly Design

Joel Kelly Design

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Joel Kelly Design
www.joelkelly.com/ 425 Peachtree Hills Avenue, Suite 12B Atlanta, GA 30305 404-221-0422