Dakota Jackson’s Gramercy town-house is filled with an eclectic mix of the designer’s own furniture and an assortment of collectibles from around the world. In the living room a collection of percussion instruments fill a corner text to a large wood burning fireplace and glass doors lead to a bright garden. On the other end of the room light beams from a bulb placed inside a four-foot tall wooden birdhouse the designer built with his daughter and an elegant black piano stands behind it in the corner.
The sleek curves of the coffee table’s legs, the carefully placed photograph collections, and the paneled windows of the entry hall evoke a sense that you are in the home of a designer. The many instruments strewn about lead you to believe you are in the home of a musician. The entire home seems a mixture of high design and casual comfort.
With all of its chic décor, the main floor of Jackson’s home is warm and inviting. He picks up his guitar and poses for shots while perched, bare-footed, on the edge of the sofa, fiddling with the strings and producing a lovely impromptu melody.
Ischa, a shy black and white cat, hides under the coffee table and stares at us cautiously, while Simon, an orange and slightly more fearless male, approaches. Both cats are named after crushes. Ischa is a friend both Jackson and his son once admired, but as Jackson puts it, “she was too young for me and too old for my son.” Simon is named after a young man who caught his daughter’s attention.
Amidst this exquisite décor the cats move freely and pounce on furniture that celebrities, socialites and artists the world pay large sums to acquire. Dakota Jackson is a force in American furniture design and his work commands international attention and respect. The fine furnishings are not off limits to Ischa and Simon, however. “Things are meant to be used” says Jackson. “People live in houses, in spaces. Part of living in spaces is being comfortable.” His animals are welcome to share his living space as well. “I believe in equal opportunity,” Jackson muses. “The domestic pet should sit on the same chair as we do”.
Jackson’s relationship with animals began at a young age. There was the occasional rabbit his magician father pulled from a hat, and several doves and ducks featured in performances. “I seem to have always had animals in my life,” says Jackson. “They are part of the household. I think that the house would empty without them.”
Design, like pets, has also been a constant presence In Jackson’s life. “I got into design because I had a certain facility at it… an affinity for it,” he says. Jackson’s first Manhattan loft was a breeding ground for his talents and allowed him to begin to develop his skills. “It was a very rough space,” he says. “I was able to explore building. I found the process wonderful. Design developed as a pure discipline after years of building. First, it was about materials and process. Then, it led to this – a thirty year passion.”
Growing up with entertainers also had an effect on Jackson’s work. “I had an early exposure to the notion of accomplishment – doing things at the highest level,” he remembers. “I built my own factories and trained my own people. It is an interesting process,” he says.
Jackson has expanded his work to include complete interiors, rug design, and product design. He recently designed Steinway’s Millennium Piano and is currently developing a menswear line as well. “Although these are different disciplines, the general idea of design is the same,” says Jackson. And what what is his general idea of design? Overall Jackson says, “I design with every basic form in mind, introducing into the mx an element of sensuality, merging the cerebral with the romantic.”
Jackson’s new lines include the Grey (Territory) Collection and the Mainframe and Bump Wave collection. Cerebral or romantic, or a mixture of both, they are sure to be comfortable, livable pieces that Ischa and Simon will enjoy.