One to watch on the Atlanta design scene, Jordan Hackworth of J Hackworth Interiors lends a cheerful wake-up call with a modern spin on hyper functionality. As a design chameleon, we photographed his own historic loft, his star-struck discovery voyage with an “Atlanta Housewife” popstar, and his imprint on a rebuilt family home.
Having worked as a set designer, Hackworth said, “Eight years in Los Angeles as a design producer was a crash course in materials, installation and functioning in near-unrealistic time frames. I still see design as a film, with characters, writing dialogue between elements, and telling a story to entertain my ‘client audience.’”
Hackworth represents a new generation of unsnobby designers who make a splash with what’s meant to be lived in.
Crank up the volume on Hackworth’s scenarios.
Jaffe: Share your journey into your design world.
Hackworth: I’ve always been a bit of a misfit. Through my awkward years at the Greenfield Hebrew Academy, a Jewish Family Service’s art therapist taught me to express myself creatively. It was then clear that I knew I would have a career in the arts. My 11-year-old bedroom was a canvas. I painted the walls marigold with white trim and bronze accents. There began a passion for transforming spaces.
I attended film and TV school in Boston. My degree in directing taught me to be the ringleader of a diverse circus of people, ultimately responsible for bringing a theoretical scene on paper with moving parts.
Jaffe: Describe your own digs.
Hackworth: It’s a haunted, magical loft in Cabbagetown. The Stacks were originally built in the 1800s by Jewish immigrants and revived in the 1990s, when the loft-living movement became ultra-chic. The brick walls reach 18 feet to the original wooden ceilings that still have paint remnants and hardware from their original function as a factory. We’re situated against the East side of the BeltLine noted by the urban art, murals and graffiti which inspire me. I spent five months painting an homage to Lichtenstein’s legendary “Spray” from the 1950s to set the tone. My furniture is mid-century Danish alongside nostalgic filament bulbs for lighting, tongue-in-cheek animal portraits, 64 plants, and other natural elements like cowhide rugs and a bull skull.
Jaffe: How did you connect to a TV celebrity?
Hackworth: After years of working under other designers. ghost-writing for celebrity decorators on TV. I returned to Atlanta to start my own brand and did design services for a tile shop.
Atlanta icon, singer, songwriter, business mogul, restaurateur, Kandi Burruss “Atlanta Housewife” was a walk in, shopping for master bath tiles.
I went “off-the-books” to deliver a sketch with large black and white porcelain tiles and two types of marble, graphite trim and gold fixtures.
She then asked me to do her daughter’s bathroom. I designed it to resemble the inside of an oyster with dolomite marble, mother of pearl mosaic and chrome fixtures to refract spectrums of color. Her trust gave me confidence.
Jaffe: Fill us in on the Pachter home project.
Hackworth: Heather Rubin Pachter and I attended the Hebrew Academy together. When she and husband Brian decided to renovate, we pow-wowed. The coolest part of this project was that her mom had tons of old family furniture, which we sifted through and updated.
Heather’s daughter’s room combines nostalgic elements in an otherwise modern room, providing a striking dynamic that evokes both new age comfort and kitsch.
Jaffe: You created their hall mural?
Hackworth: When I walked in, I saw a perfect blank white space right in front of me. I pulled a 6-foot canvas and hit it abstractly with fresh bright colors. The Pachters are super cool and very chic, but also kind and playful. I was excited to contribute something that reflected their personalities.
Jaffe: Heather, how do you view the Hackworth experience?
Pachter: Flexibility, innovation and guidance without pushiness were important to me. Jordan fit the bill. While I knew him on a personal level, this was my first time working with him on a professional level. It was one of the few easy and seamless events during COVID. He was there to guide without losing my aesthetic vision. I am continually amazed how he melded family heirlooms with new purchases. He allowed me to discover my personal creativeness while keeping me focused and my selections purposeful. Jordan’s guidance continues to be invaluable, and his artistic eye brings a unique quality of quiet, intricate detail.
Jaffe: What are tips for hard surfaces?
Hackworth: When in doubt, keep it simple. Adding is way easier than subtracting.
You MUST use physical samples. Observe them in your home’s lighting, at different times of day, at different angles. Don’t look at two sample options side-by-side. Examine them with the other coordinating elements and remove other options as they will influence how your eyes register the color. This is especially true with stone and paint.
For natural stone countertops, view the slabs before purchasing as they can vary.
Countertops have evolved. Quartz is a durable, semi-manmade material that mimics natural stone without the unpredictability of natural patterning. Quartzite is natural, nearly indestructible and gaining popularity.
Bathroom surfaces are seeing a comeback in butcher block vanity tops, matching porcelain or glass vessel sinks adding warmth. For a contemporary look, solid surfaces create a sleek, seamless sink basin and countertop combo with infinity edges and linear drains.
Jaffe: Last word.
Hackworth: After a brutal 2020, post-pandemic relief will be “fun” designing. White on white may stick around, but we’ll treat it as a clean slate for nostalgic elements evoking joy. Elaborate wall coverings, creative customizations, vintage pieces in modern rooms, and an integration of indoor/outdoor spaces with plants galore will compose an exciting movement.
Stay away from anything too trendy. The home improvement scene in Atlanta is like the Wild West. Hire a designer who listens well. It will save time, money, and they’ll be your line of defense with contractors only interested in finishing the job.”