2022 Pasadena Showcase House of Design welcomes interior designer James Hernandez back | South Pasadenan
James Hernandez sits in his newly completed conservatory at the 2022 Pasadena Showcase House of Design, held this year in the 1905 English Tudor known as Oaklawn Manor in South Pasadena. Being a South Pasadenan for 18 years, this return to the Showcase House after sixteen years is especially meaningful. “It’s always an honor to be selected — it means you’ve been invited by the Pasadena Showcase House design committee, being recognized by docents, by other designers,” Hernandez says. “It is a privilege to be recognized by the Pasadena Showcase House for your commitment to interior design and the contribution you make to the arts and community.”
Hernandez exudes enthusiasm and his passion for design emanates from him as he shows us the sunroom he designed for this year’s Showcase House. “I am here every day. I’m so excited – I’m editing and fine-tuning my space,” he says. “Today I went out and got some living gray willows to complement the gray stem that is in the lotus wallcovering.” The room is also dotted with beautiful succulent arrangements and he explains that “you will never see fake flowers in the Showcase House. This is part of the official guidelines.
He goes on to say, “I am so proud of my work. I don’t sleep at night because I think about what I can do to improve my space. And sometimes I realize that less is more. I like the simplicity of the silhouette of the couch,” he says, pointing to a room on the veranda. “I like the neutrality of this swivel chair.” Her personal touches are scattered throughout the room, such as a painting of her dog, Barnaby, by a client’s 11-year-old daughter and an abstract piece commissioned by Dr. Frank Flowers.
“My goal here is to attract both the traditional and the non-traditional. For example some things in this room read as mid century modern – the lines of the sofa are Italian mid century modern – I used cubism in the fabrics and then a classic stripe – that’s where you take modern and traditional and make it work together,” he says. It also highlights the mobile-type fixture used instead of a chandelier to demonstrate additional modernity.
This is Hernandez’s fourth showcase home and first time in sixteen years. “It’s a lot of dedication and hard work – people think designers just come in to decorate – no,” he says. In addition to designing the concept, the designers use their own suppliers, provide all the furniture and decoration, everything from A to Z to create the room. “Due to Covid delays, I bought furniture from showrooms months in advance and had everything reupholstered,” he explains. “That white piece of furniture? You may be thinking, “oh I never want white furniture”. It’s Crypton. I could spill something on it and it would bead. And these chairs are faux leather. So instead of your classic mens brown leather, I show you an interpretation of a mens club chair. You can call it a delicate channel back chair for women or a beautiful channel back chair for men. It’s versatile. I don’t want you to sit on my furniture – I want people to live in my work – I want it to work. I want it to be high performance but still stylish.
Hernandez has an enviable energy and says that although he has developed his style of design over the years through his extensive travels, styling has always been a part of his life. “I’ve always been very energetic and I think you have to have an innate sense of design. I think you can learn the formalities of design but you have to have a sense of style. I’ve always had that.
Hernandez began her foray into interior design many years ago working with a prominent interior designer in Santa Monica. It was while working for her that they discovered the Pasadena Showcase House. “It’s an honor to be selected to do the Showcase and we were first chosen in 2000 for the house of Arcadia. We did a little girl’s room and that lit a fire in us and the next year we did the Walgreens Estate near the Annandale Golf Club.
After living abroad for a year in Barcelona, Spain, he moved to South Pasadena in 2004 and started his own business. Soon after, he began working with a well-known Supermodel/TV personality, designing his mother’s house among other projects that led to more high-profile clients in the Los Angeles metro area like Kimora Lee. Simons. His work has been featured on his reality show “Life in the Fab Lane” and he designed the interiors of Caitlyn Jenner’s Malibu home which is featured in Vanity Fair. He has worked all over Los Angeles but is excited to work more locally. “I never thought I would work in Pasadena, but I work here a lot now and I love it. I live in South Pasadena and now generate work where I am with the same family multiple times over multiple generations. They take me with them,” he laughs. “I am part of their life! I continue to grow with these families and now my clients’ children are in college and I am still working with their parents.
Having the Showcase House in South Pasadena has allowed him a very short commute and work in the city he loves. “Living in South Pasadena brings charm and tranquility to a very hectic and busy design life,” muses Hernandez. “Having lived on the West Side, I find a certain calm and peace after a long day at work, which takes me all around LA, Manhattan Beach, Calabasas, and recently a project in South Carolina. I look forward to the local farmer’s market and evenings in Garfield Park with my dog, Barnaby, local restaurants and dinners with friends and neighbors.”
It is indeed an exciting and challenging life, one for which he is immensely grateful, adding thoughtfully, “I am grateful to be appreciated for the work I have done – to make people’s lives brighter. , happier – to elevate people’s sense of style.”
The 2022 Pasadena Showcase House of Design will be open through May 22 (house tours are closed on Mondays). Tickets ($40 to $50) are on sale now. For more information or to buy tickets, visit pasadenashowcase.org. Use code Hernandez to save $10 on tickets after 1:30 p.m.
Pasadena Showcase House for the Artsan all-volunteer, non-profit organization, has supported local music and arts programs since 1948. Through the hard work and dedication of its more than 200 members, the organization raises funds through its primary benefit, the Pasadena Showcase House of Design– one of the oldest, largest and most successful house and garden tours in the country.