Minimalist, Modernist, Magician
New York interior designer Jennifer Post, enviably an AD 100 designer every year since 2004, floats a life raft of elegant minimalism amid a design surge of updated traditionalism. And as the wave of designers who reference 18th-century styles as a familiar touchstone and springboard crests, the more Post's signature modernism stands out in bold silhouette: a swan dive of clean form and daring volume, elegant and ethereal in its simplicity, and shimmeringly light.

140 character limit
Architect and interior-designer Jennifer Post of Jennier Post Design. Photo by Ken Hayden

"I firmly believe in elegant minimalism," says the Ohio native, whose Manhattan studio has grown over the past two decades to include a sizable number of like-minded practitioners who address space holistically, starting with its architecture. "This has been the core of my design aesthetic throughout my career. I'm a purist and a perfectionist. I believe strongly in the motto 'less is more.'"

So while the trend among designers is to defy being niched (though new traditionalism has a single point of origin, it embraces variation; most adherents say the client's taste trumps their own), Post is pleased to be pegged. She is the first to admit she is not and will not be all things for all people. "I am known for my signature, and I am proud of it."

Which is not to say Post is dismissive of her client's desires, needs, or input. Hers is more a case of like attracts like.

Park Avenue glam and sophistication. Courtesy of Tim Bell.

"It starts with the interview. I usually know right then if I will be able to do a project," she explains. "I am fortunate that my clients seek me out for my signature look, and they are already converts to my aesthetic. So it is not so much that I pursue my own sensibility, but rather that I share the same sensibility with my clients."

In fact, her priorities in any new residential project are as follows: "the lifestyle of my client, the space itself, the architecture, and the light exposure. The success of a project arises from my ability to blend the clients' wants (even if a client wants to go for more than my aesthetic calls for or I think is necessary) with my signature design program, so there is a seamless execution."

Crisp clean lines characterize Post's designs for a beach house in the Hamptons. Courtesy of Michael Moran.

Before earning a master's degree in art from Michigan State University and pursuing post-graduate studies in art and architecture at the University of London and elsewhere in Europe, Post studied set design and filmmaking at the University of Cincinnati. Her initial goal to be a set designer wasn't realized, but that background figures daily into her chosen career in interiors.

"Set design is a 'theater'—once the curtain opens it tells you the story and creates immediately the emotional feeling in the viewer, which, in interior design, is the aesthetic element. My objective in design is always to invoke the feeling of a home as soon as you open the door. I also have a very good sense of keeping that vision streamlined throughout the home, and that is what theater does."

A soothing interior defined by symmetry and the use of bold yellows and white complement the ocean backdrop in a Miami residence. Courtesy of Ken Hayden.

Unlike the new traditionalists, whose palettes can span the spectrum from white to forays into multifarious schemes and sober library tones, Post's work has long been synonymous with the color white, although that's changing—a bit. "Absolutely, white is still my favorite purity minimal tone, but I also call among my favorite colors soft cashmere grey and charcoal tones."

For backgrounds, white remains her go-to hue. And for good reason. "White allows for pops of color to be so much more effective, and you can avoid a lot of [color] as a result. The environment still remains pure and clean with crisp lines, and color is used as a punctuation mark. That is the reason I am able to introduce color and keep the spaces pristinely clean."

Post is known for her modernist light-filled spaces and penchant for Italian upholstery as seen in this Bevery Hills home. Courtesy of Roger Davies.

Post unashamedly favors white, but don't make the mistake of assuming that connotes coldness. Or worse, sterility. Her delivery of warmth simply takes a different path.

"My design visions are always about light and a feeling of warmth and serenity. I design foremost for someone's home, and I want that to be clear in my work. I am very sensitive to light in the space and base a lot of my decisions and color palette around that. I also use wonderful soft fabrics and pay special attention to the cohesive integration of materials in the furniture pieces I design (fabric, metal, lacquer) to make sure they all flow together into the modern home I am building."

To work with Post, hoarders need not apply. As a disciple of Mies van der Rohe's less-is-more mandate for modernism (a phrase that actually originated with his mentor, the industrial designer Peter Behrens, who possibly borrowed it from an 1855 poem of Robert Browning's), Post is passionate. "My own philosophy is that your life is calmer and better and your home more peaceful when you see a clearly edited elegant space. So simplicity in a well articulated space with sophisticated finishes and well designed interiors is my only instinct. Less is more is a motto I live by in my personal life and I preach it to my clients, who not surprisingly either want to embrace that philosophy right away or live by it in their own lives already. A lot of times they come with nothing (no carry over) into their new homes."

Bright pops of yellow in a sea of gray form the color palette in a Manhattan residence. Courtesy of Antoine Bootz.

Ditching the detritus is a must. But so is incorporating art and compelling objets d'art. For Post, curating a collection can be a solitary endeavor, collaborative, or the exclusive domain of her clients. "Of course I respect my clients tastes in art, and putting together a collection can be any of these. A lot of my clients come already with sophisticated art collections of their own, but equally as many want my input. When it comes to selecting the right piece, you know when you see one—it clicks."