After years of creating visual solutions for clients, Jeanine Michele is breaking into more elaborate projects – construction sites.
My foundation growing up in a family of DIYers, taking shop class in junior high, getting a BFA in Fine Arts and heading off to Italy has definitely influenced my design style along with my understanding of how things get done. In my early career, decorative and commercial painting was my medium. I am now taking things to the next level. Where my medium used to be paints, and installations or happenings, I am now concentrating on the creation and execution of physical spaces on a larger scale.
Marcel Duchamp was a huge influence for me. He challenged the notion of what exactly art is. I started thinking of art differently. Never much for convention, I let my imagination take me beyond what I knew, and it opened me up to some great experiences. My fascination with conceptual art played a vital role in my development both artistically and personally.
Another influence was a happening I curated called “1913” which was held at a restaurant in Los Angeles. It was a fundraiser for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, but I created an entire happening event that was bigger than just selling the art on the wall.
I moved to Italy in my mid 20s, which is a pivotal point for many in defining who you are and what influences you in life. I lived and breathed Italy. The style, the craftsmanship and the teaching of knowledge passed down from generation to generation. Having lived in Italy for 25 years, having been able to work and learn Italian art from Italian artisans and high-end art dealers…now I want to go further with my knowledge. Italians have a unique perspective and style that I would love to carry through to the United States and elsewhere.
In Italy, I was given a series of books from the Banca San Paolo. The first was about affrescoes of 1200. It hit a profound chord. I ended up studying affresco at il Laboratorio di Affesco di Elena e Leonetto Tintori in Prato.
Early on in my career as an artist, a collector had this to say about me – “E’ come Jeanine e l’opera d’arte.” = It is as though Jeanine is the art object. I was very pleased with this interpretation. This is an accurate REALIZATION of who I am. It was very encouraging and put into words what I had been feeling.
In 2008 when the financial crisis hit hard I was working in the yachting industry. My plan was to do art consulting for the yachts. A captain had told me to take on whatever jobs I could find on the boats. So, I did. I even went to the Monaco Boat Show with my stylish little postcards and passed them out. But as September came and went, the economic crisis got worse so I decided to change gears. I ended up in law school at the University of Pisa.
Another huge influence on my life and perspective.
The Jemellaggio project is the result of a project that came about through people I met while attending school.
Recently I was working with an Italian pool company doing consulting for them in regard to expanding to the U.S. markets. And in-house marketing for their brand. I was also able to go to a particular construction site they had underway. Often, I had worked on construction sites for painting work. I rediscovered my love for building. In this instance, it was pools. The forms light plays in the design of the final pool made me want to design bigger and different. Construction materials are the natural progression for me.
My strength in developing concepts and carrying them out is evolving…to encompass the medium of commercial and residential construction. A few years ago, I decided to ship most of my personal items back to the U.S where I had asked my Mom to let me build a space to store everything. Of course, it evolved to a more elaborate and detailed project that allowed me to create my first construction project of my own.
I am developing the space to be a showroom for Italian things. One thing has led to another and I am very enthusiastic about the direction my life is taking. My eye for color and visual design is a strong driving force. Paired up with the grounding studies that law school offered, I feel a good balance upon which to build my own company.
Annunziata de Comite has been a good friend for many years now. We met in Florence when she was still studying architecture at the University of Florence. She helped me in designing the planimeter for Thermae Smerlado Coast when I needed an actual architectural drawing to illustrate plans for a wellness center for the U.S.
My sister Lynn has always been supportive of me. Getting to work with her on developing Jeanine Michele Enterprises is a special treat after living apart for so many years. Her talents definitely make a difference in the collected professionalism we can offer our clients.
It is a bit challenging trying to fit it all together. But it keeps growing, so we are obviously headed in the right direction.
I will never be that everyday person living in a box.
I will always be more successful at doing the impossible.
Thinking up the design, attention to the details and making it come to life on a big scale is where I want to go now. So, stay tuned and keep up with me for the next wave.
Growing up with a father who constantly worked on cars or the house, a mother who sewed clothes, did craft projects and made some elaborate birthday cakes, combined with a sister who is an artist, I wasn’t sure I could be as creative. So, I found my niche more in project management. I worked in the world of entertainment and advertising where I was always surrounded by creatives and, with a degree in mass communications with an emphasis on art direction, I tried to keep that creative foot in the door.
At the same time, I loved being around construction. I think it was when we built our house while I was in high school. I got to see the whole process – from the blueprint stage, to clearing the plot of land, to helping run the electrical wire, to hanging siding. My dad built some little thing to help make it easier while you’re standing on scaffolding to keep the cedar straight while we hung it. Just two simple cuts to a piece of wood, but it made it go so much smoother and faster. He had done construction in New York in his younger days.
I spent ten years watching, and helping do construction schedules for luxury homes. Visiting the sites – seeing how it worked. Learning the basics like reading blueprints, seeing the phases and, finally, the finished product. I was living and breathing it every day, and I loved it!
Now my sister and I have decided we could combine and merge. Where she is strong in color and concept, I am strong at working with timelines and making lists to keep things moving.
We were brought up with a strong work ethic, the drive to figure things out and the freedom to think outside the box.
Born in Taranto (1973), Annunziata graduated with a degree in architecture in Florence and began working with the architectural firm Andrea Milani, in 2003. She gained experiences in architectural and interior design (Vertigo, Sienna 2005, Riabita 1st prize), urban design (Marina Cala de Medici, Rosignano, Livorno) and in landscape planning (Ecopixel Park, Perugia 2007, PAYS.MED.URBAN, catalogue of best practices).
In 2011-2013, living between Milan and Barcelona, she attended the Master of Landscape Architecture program at UPC (Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya), ending with the thesis “Landscape management and urban regeneration in Taranto: the opportunity of reclaiming in a ‘landscape oriented’ city planning”.
With some partners from the master program, she creates interesting design and research experiences (PAISEA 025, la cubierta vegetal – green roof, June 2013).
Her latest project in progress, about the re-appropriation of public space in her hometown, Taranto, develops between art and ordinary “invisible” landscape.