Graphic designer and creative director Jessica Walsh uses her Chelsea loft as a canvas for bold hues.
The electric blue I really love is very hard to find,” says Jessica Walsh. “In real life, it’s usually a shade too subdued.” When she had the legs of her Prouvé dining chairs painted, Walsh felt the cobalt blue also came out “just a bit off.” A partner at eponymous New York design agency Sagmeister & Walsh, she speaks so precisely about color that it could be her native language. When Walsh and her husband, filmmaker Zak Mulligan, found their current home—a 1,400-square-foot loft in Chelsea—it was the palette that pulled her in. “The space was awful in an awesome way,” she says. “The previous owner was inspired by Studio 54, so there were pink walls, steps, and platforms everywhere.”
That ability to see opportunity in places others might overlook is one of Walsh’s greatest strengths. She met legendary designer Stefan Sagmeister after sending him an unsolicited email asking for advice. He was so impressed with her portfolio that he hired her at age 23 and made her a partner at 25. Some of Walsh’s best-known work is imbued with an element of life-as-art, from her candy-colored Instagram account to her 12 Kinds of Kindness project with designer and illustrator Timothy Goodman. The pair created the 12-step program to cultivate empathy and documented their experimental relationship in 40 Days of Dating—a website, book, and soon-to-be movie. (As it happens, Goodman and Walsh turned out to be better collaborators than lovers, although they remain good friends.) work, the overall picture looks refined,” she says, “but when you look closer, you start to see the hand-painting and imperfections.” Much like seeking that perfect blue, she enjoys the search as much as finding exactly what she wants.
Walsh fell in love with handmade black-and-white Moroccan tiles and incorporated them into the kitchen
and bathroom floors.
Fittingly, her home is also a collaboration in progress. Aleksandra Kingo, a colleague, made the artwork above the sofa. “I love using that space to feature a friend, and I plan on switching out the art regularly,” says Walsh. For the renovation, she worked with architect Eric Mailaender of Resistance Design to open up the layout and let in light. Together, they balanced his pragmatism with her love of bright blues, true reds, and sunshine yellows. “Eric pulled me toward a cleaner, more Scandinavian style,” she explains. The open closet was her idea—“I wanted to keep all my colorful things on display”—but she took Mailaender’s suggestion to complement it with closed storage. He also devised the black wall shelf, a feature that obscures the television and creates a display area.
Interesting projects and people regularly rotate through Walsh’s home. Every month, she hosts “Ladies, Wine & Design” nights—open to anyone who applies, they fill up a year in advance. The modern salons bring together six creative women to hash out real-life issues, from depression and anxiety to business branding, with Walsh acting as mentor. The success of these meetings is a testament to how seamlessly Walsh combines different aspects of life and business. “In my work, the overall picture looks refined,” she says, “but when you look closer, you start to see the hand-painting and imperfections.” Much like seeking that perfect blue, she enjoys the search as much as finding exactly what she wants.