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Designer Friday: An Aspire Exclusive Interview With Jaclyn Isaac

Jaclyn Isaac loves to meld the past and present. As founder and principal designer at doni Douglas, she delivers spaces representing a rich history of design by mixing classic and contemporary, luxury and relatability. Her projects are no less diverse in genre – from homes to restaurants, Isaac’s passion for finding just the right elements for each interior creates refined, comfortable environments. Isaac seeks to uncover new innovations in a mesh of styles. Introducing this week’s Designer Friday, Jaclyn Isaac.

Isaac pairs cool tones and modern accessories with traditional wood shelving in this Hoboken, New Jersey, wine cellar.

Isaac pairs cool tones and modern accessories with traditional wood shelving in this Hoboken, New Jersey, wine cellar.

Andrew Joseph: What makes you angry?
Jaclyn Isaac: Dismissiveness. I don’t have a formal design background, so early on in my career, I was met with individuals who looked down on my company as it lacked the panache of a long list of high-profile projects and the glamour of expensive specifications and finishes. Three years later we have a waitlist and are called on daily by vendors that never gave us the time of day a few years ago. I specifically remember a time we were told by one vendor that our client’s order was “the last thing on their mind” since we weren’t a big account. We pulled that order and never looked back. We were called on a few times this year by that same rep after they were made aware we were the designer on record for a large multi-unit building. You can imagine that call went to voicemail very quickly. I invest heavily in those whose grace helped us become the firm we are today and I don’t pick up the phone for the others who dismissed us. They’d sure love our business now!

Andrew: What’s a guilty pleasure you have?
Jaclyn: I love vintage and antiques, so getting lost in a filthy salvage yard is definitely my guilty pleasure. I feel like a little kid seeing things for the first time. I seek out the mud puddles and the dusty mirrors and the full attic. I love feeling like I’m about to fall through floorboards. I have found amazing items in the most insane looking places.

Doni Douglas compliments the classic staircase in this Rutherford home with a bold wallpaper and light-reflective tones.

Doni Douglas compliments the classic staircase in this Rutherford home with a bold wallpaper and light-reflective tones.

Andrew: What’s the best thing that happened to you this month?
Jaclyn: We proposed this wild tubular powder-coated steel bar to a client who DJs and goes to Ibiza often. We called it the “BPM” bar as it has a music beat bent into the steel. It was approved!

Andrew: What’s your favorite cocktail?
Jaclyn: My husband makes a sweet tea vodka summer drink that will send you singing into the evening, forgetting you’re still in your bathing suit as the sun goes down. We call it a Tony’s Tea. It’s a combination of sweet tea vodka, lemonade and fresh peaches, though he would kill me if I told you all of its ingredients!

Andrew: Do you get your eight hours a night? – what is your schedule like?
Jaclyn: Never. Up at 6:30am, walking the dogs, posting on Instagram, then diving into my day. Get home around 5:30pm, have dinner with my husband, head to hot yoga and then work until 3am!

Andrew: What would your dream project or dream client be right now?
Jaclyn: A YACHT! I love the water and am a beach girl at heart. It’s a dream to work on a truly high-end project on the water like that. I imagine it comes with a whole host of new challenges we have never been faced with before, right down to the durability of the finishes and using new materials. It’s a totally different mindset and aesthetic, and we wouldn’t mind being challenged to include our beloved antiques in a spot like that!

Isaac reveals her signature vintage streak in this Belmar Beach Bungalow, matching warm woody tones with contrasting quirky furniture and bright accessories.

Isaac reveals her signature vintage streak in this Belmar Beach Bungalow, matching warm woody tones with contrasting quirky furniture and bright accessories.

Andrew: Favorite tea to decompress, and in what mug?
Jaclyn: The Spice and Tea Exchange’s Hazelnut Cookie Tea in the Tricolore teacup from Astier de Villatte’s Paris flagship store. There’s a little man at the bottom of it. Yes it was 135 euro and yes it’s still available and worth every penn- err, euro!

Andrew: Has there been a shift in what clients are requesting post-covid?
Jaclyn: Our clients all want some sort of awesome entertaining spot – whether it’s a custom bar cabinet or an entire room for special times with friends and guests. The beautiful thing about the pandemic was it made many of us appreciate the relationships in our lives. Everyone wants to cherish their closest family and friends in their own home, preferably in the dated and empty formal living room now atop a fabulous rug and surrounded by some cool wallpaper!


About The Designer | In 2017, Jaclyn Isaac launched a firm to help clients step out of their comfort zone and create spaces inspired by a mix of the classic and the bold. Unbound by traditional ideas of design, doni Douglas [previously Downtown Decorators] is a firm of traditional elegance mixed with the young, fresh, funky and fun.

Our signature blend of old and new has become a sought-after touch in both residential and commercial spaces. You can find us pairing 200 year old mirrors with the chicest chandelier, or an old-world plaster finish next to a sexy velvet. Life is too short to follow design rules, so we don’t.

That spirit, eye for design, and an incredible work ethic has led us to be the strategic partner in design for some of the most beautiful residences and buildings up and down the East Coast. From single-family new construction to early 19th century renovations to 70-unit buildings, we fearlessly design and flawlessly execute.

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