Jonathan Partridge is one of those lucky few who have experienced the truth within Confucious’s “choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life” adage. After working for years as a Wall Street businessman, Partridge took a leap of faith to follow his passions and pursue a career in design. His gamble paid off; Partridge is now the principal of his own firm, Jonathan Partridge Interiors, which he founded in 2009 in New York City. Partridge’s success has led him to expanded his portfolio from primarily luxury residential clients to now include extended-stay corporate hospitality suites and high-end retail projects. His team currently is involved in designing a high-end luxury retail project for a confidential Italian fashion client on Madison Avenue in Manhattan (opening projected for Spring 2012) and is in negotiations for another store for the client in Chicago and Atlanta, as well.
1. Why design? It seems like a huge leap from a Wall Street career.
Interiors have always been a passion for me—as a child, I remember watching my parents take great care in how they dressed their home. (A well-tailored space can provide immense emotional, physical, and social wellbeing to its owner.) I’m a very analytical person and was originally drawn to the financial industry. But I began to explore this wildly creative side of my personality; it led me to the understanding of how strong and vibrant the interior design profession truly is.
2. Where were you when that a-ha moment came?
I somehow knew that if I ever had the chance to pursue a different career, it would be in interior design. This opportunity presented itself while I was working on Wall Street and dating someone who was attending the New York School of Interior Design (NYSID). Our mutual interest in design made me to question why I wasn’t doing what I love. I enrolled in night and weekend classes at NYSID, and here I am.
3. Is running a design firm and working on Wall Street similar in practice?
Most of the challenges are similar, however the nice thing about coming from the world of finance is that my days there gave me a unique perspective on how to run a successful interior design company—they allowed me to quickly and efficiently setup my company in a way that poised us for immediate growth. My five-year plan includes more additions to my design team, new markets, retail locations, and more. Diversification of my design team’s experience will allow for continued enhancements to an already strong portfolio of service offerings.
4. Was it challenging to go to design school so late in the game?
It was not a challenge for me because I am so passionate about the subject. While my classes were inspiring, I did find it demanding to work all day and then go to school during the evenings and weekends. But my excitement, intrigue and passion for the world of interiors kept me going...and still does!
5. What process do you go through to find inspiration for your design?
I find inspiration in three places: the world around me—people, fashion, trends, and how people use different spaces; studying classical styles of design; and researching and the premise of modern luxury. I’m constantly pushing my team to pay close attention to the little details by obtaining most exquisite and unique appointments for our clients.
6. What designers do you look to and admire?
Albert Hadley, due to his timeless and sophisticated approach to his designs. I keep a letter in my desk, addressed to Mr. Hadley, asking him if he would be so gracious to allow me to take him to lunch sometime. Perhaps one of these days I will be bold enough to send it.
7. Describe your style of design in three words.
Elegant. Sophisticated. Timeless.
8. What would you like people to remember most about your designs?
It’s very important to me that our designs convey a sophisticated elegance that is timeless. Since the majority of our business comes from referrals, we strive to create environments that are awe-inspiring.