theatre corporate events commercial interiors furniture design graphic design television exhibits charities jaki johnsen bio
 

studio Blu design
a multifaceted design studio
New York City • Vegas

jaki johnsen principal
917.805.6969 | contact us
 
JAKI JOHNSEN BIO

BORN TO DESIGN

I interned at the Metropolitan Opera for the 96/97 Season. I left in the Summer of 97 for a job at Production Design Group in Chelsea. I learned alot about scenery, construction and the business of Design.

PDG does mainly News and Sports TV. I worked on Dateline, VTV, ESPN & FOX and NBC affiliate stations around the world. They also did quite a bit of highly theatrical/themed environments including restaurants, and retail spaces like the NBC Experience in Rockefeller Center for which I was 1 of 2 Project Managers. I took every opportunity that I could get out of them to learn model building, computer drafting and design. I started out as a struggling intern who didn’t know a whole lot and left a Project Manager.

After 3 years, I left PDG and worked for an Architect who did highly detailed, custom residential work with fabulously enormous budgets. I did a lot of detail drafting and worked on stellar Westchester and NYC Residential properties. No expense was spared in the custom woodwork and cabinetry. I learned about exotic woods, old world construction and details.

However, I really missed the excitement of the Stage. I was offered a job with DMD Group in Soho. They did Museum work and Corporate Theatre.

For 3 years I learned a lot about Live Theatre as well as what it takes to make a show in the middle of no where with nothing, sell a product and get it down quickly on a corporate budget.

But after a while, I really wanted to do my own designs. I started to take small shows on the side.  Until I had about 3 projects of my own going as well as my position with DMD, so time was getting very tight. I had about 2 days of meetings with vendors and venues scheduled, so for the first time in my life, I planned to take 2 sick days. I called in sick the morning of September 11, 2001 and headed south down Lafayette from my East Village apartment about 9:30 AM for my 1st appointment and ran into the FBI in the Lobby & Armageddon.

Needless to say, my appointments were cancelled, but the world had significantly changed and suddenly it seemed silly to be playing this kind of charade. Life was obviously too short to do anything but that which I really wanted to do, so I left DMD and started my own business.

September, 2001 I started a small design business, which I call Studio Blu Design. I do Corporate Theatre & Events, Exhibits, Commercial Interiors and Furniture Design. I have a studio in the Alphabet City, where I have the pleasure to work with many talented artists and assistants whose varied skills & dedication enhance my work and my life.

It’s a very interesting journey when you start out at the MET. I used to get to Lincoln Center about 6 AM every day and drink my coffee on the totally empty Metropolitan Opera Stage, looking out at the House wondering if I would ever get a job or make a career out of this absolutely fabulous World of Theatre. It’s hard to know where to go from the Top, but it fills you with the sense that anything is possible.

I hope you all are enjoying the ride as much as I am.

J

jakijohnsen age 6