Julie Neill is a lighting designer and entrepreneur based in New Orleans. Julie’s business was born out of a love for handmade craftsmanship, old world techniques, and classic, French-inspired style. Her eponymous brand has grown tremendously over the last decade from moving to a larger showroom on Magazine Street to recently launching a licensed collection with Visual Comfort & Co, bringing Neill’s beloved designs to a much larger audience. In recent years, Julie Neill Designs has become a family business, with Neill’s daughter, Isabelle, joining the company as Director of Sales and Marketing. Both women are as lovely as their designs. In fact, I worked closely with Julie and Isabelle a couple of years ago when we used one of her beautiful light fixtures in my room at the 2016 Southern Style Now Showhouse (shown above). I hope you’ll enjoy learning more about this Southern talent.
Paloma Contreras: How would you describe your style?
Julie Neill: My style is simple and timeless with the inclusion of intriguing personal details.
PC: How has living in New Orleans influenced your aesthetic?
JN: I grew up in New Orleans and have always been inspired by the creative forces that gave birth to this exquisite, quirky city. The architecture, the easy pace of life, and the vast number of creative people who live here make this city an unending source of great ideas and inspiration.
PC: What does your home say about you?
JN: My home is a place of love and beauty because it’s a treasure trove of the many things that I’ve fallen in love with and collected throughout my life. It has allowed me to create the perfect setting for being with the people I love.
PC: Where do you turn for inspiration?
JN: For me, inspiration is everywhere! From the shape of a leaf on a tree to a fabulous piece of architecture to a beautiful book to images online. I often get wonderful ideas in the silence and peacefulness of meditation.
TIERNEY GEARSON // DOUGLAS TRUESDALE
PC: Who are your personal style icons?
JN: Paloma Picasso, Diana Vreeland, Carolina Herrera, and my amazing grandmother who taught me the importance of creating and celebrating the beautiful side of life.
PC: What trait do you most admire in a person?
JN: Kindness, honesty, patience, and the ability to laugh
J. SAVAGE GIBSON // MEG BRAFF DESIGN
PC: What is your guilty pleasure?
JN: My guilty but worthwhile pleasure is taking a leisurely nap on Sunday afternoon. It helps me clear my mind and energizes myself for the week.
ANNE WAGONER INTERIORS
PC: Who or what has been your greatest professional influence?
JN: My mother always encouraged my artistic abilities and believed I’d use my talents for something significant. And when I started my own business, the most valuable book I’ve ever read was The Success Principles by Jack Canfield, which I still consider my professional road map.
PC: What is your idea of living “la dolce vita”?
JN: For me, cherishing my loved ones, making a comfortable home, experiencing the beauty of nature, and being grateful to the Creator for all my blessings and talents.
PC: What can we look forward to next from you?
JC: We design custom light fixtures for our clients every day, so there’s always something new at Julie Neill Designs. And we’re currently at work on our third collection of lighting for Visual Comfort, which will be introduced at High Point in the spring.
Go-To Outfit: Black pants, black or white shirt, and special jewelry
Style Mantra: Keep it simple with a point of interest
Scent: Chanel No.19
Piece of Jewelry: My grandmother’s art deco sapphire and diamond ring
Color I Never Tire of: Blush pink
Flower: White Roses and pink peonies
Indispensable Design Element: Great Lighting!
Era for Design: There are wonderful design elements in every era
Dream Project: One that requires gorgeous custom lighting
Fabric/Textile: Anything Fortuny, especially the antique pieces
Hostess Gift: Flowers
Meal: Sunday brunch with my children
Drink: Iced latte with whole milk
Way to Unwind after a Long Day at Work: A quiet dinner at home and a walk around my lovely neighborhood
3 Things I Love About New Orleans: The historic architecture, the interesting people, and the fabulous food
City: While my heart belongs to New Orleans, my soul came alive in Rome and Venice
Song that Always Put Me in a Great Mood: The Beatles Twist and Shout
Museum: The Met
Artist: Cy Twombly, Diego Giacometti, Agnes Martin, Giambattista Tiepolo, and on a personal level, my dear friends Amanda Talley and Katie Rafferty
Prized Possession: Art made by my children and my many talented friends
Risk Worth Taking: Falling in love
Greatest Extravagance: Uninterrupted time to myself
Go-To Color Palette: White as a backdrop for fabulous art
Rule to Break: Rules are made to be broken
Movie Set Design: Marie Antoinette for the sheer French fantasy and I’ve always loved the house in My Man Godfrey
I can never have too many…fabulous jewels and shoes!