Jane Cunningham, President, Room Resolutions
The Home Trust (THT): What first compelled you to enter Interior Design?
Jane Cunningham (JC): My sister is always happy to explain that I’ve always been an interior designer, even when I had no idea what that meant, at a very young age, and she says she has evidence to prove that theory. When we were young, we asked for a dollhouse as a gift. To our excitement, our parents found a way, on a very tight and limited budget, to give us a two- story dollhouse, complete with furnishings and people. She would say, “let’s play” and we did, or so I thought. We’d take everything out of the dollhouse and begin making each room what we wanted – a dining room, a beautiful master bedroom and even a dog room. We’d add the people and step back to take in the whole house. “It’s perfect” would be my words and “Done.” My sister didn’t think so at all, “Aren’t we going to begin playing now?” she’d ask. Much to her chagrin, I’d say, “We just did.”
THT: If you could have told your 20 year old self one thing, what would it have been?
JC: The best is yet to come. Be open to new possibilities that will make your life and career even more interesting than you ever could have planned for yourself. You have barely even scratched the surface of how good it will be.
THT: Please tell us about your family and your personal life.
JC: I credit much of my success in design to my strong and supportive family. My daughter, Amanda, an Olympian, Artist and Phenomenal Business Woman, is my business partner and guiding light.
With my husband, an Air Force Diplomat, veteran and an accomplished Business Executive, I’ve traveled the world as an ambassador of design and culture in countries as diverse as Denmark, Iceland, Russia and New Zealand. Adding Insightful thinking to this remarkable opportunity called Design!
THT: What is the best advice you have received and who was it from?
JC: If we are fortunate, the best advice will have been given to us as a child. Of course, I didn’t realize that fact until well into my adult years, but so glad it all rang true. As children and young adults, we are bombarded from all directions, with all sorts of advice of what to do, what not to do and even how to do it. How do you wade through all of those “words of wisdom?” You don’t, without coming back to center, as I call it. We all find our way from within – yes, with a bit of help from the outside, but being true to ourselves can make all the difference. After being ridiculed by my sixth-grade classmates, regarding my choice in clothing and running home in tears, my mother said, “It doesn’t matter what they think, it matters what you think.” Being sure of a truth from within, no matter what it may be, gives us hope.
THT: Is there a common thread that runs through all great products?
JC: Great products always focus on real problems and real issues. By understanding the painful points that face your end users, you can build great and successful products.
THT: Do you prefer the country or the city?
JC: Is there a possibility to an answer “C?” Remember on multiple-choice quizzes how there were always the A and B choices and the “C” was either “All of the above” or “None of the above?” Well I choose “C.” I grew up in what some would call the idyllic Norman Rockwell small, New England town of Exeter, New Hampshire. A place where white picket fences, front porches and a bandstand in the center of town where the norm. Fond memories of picnics in the parks, parades on every holiday and knowing my neighbors by name, always brings a smile to my face. However, while growing up, I couldn’t wait to move away from this seemingly isolated and claustrophobic, small town. Since moving away, I have lived in seven states and traveled to countless countries throughout the world; visiting rural, suburban, and urban areas satiating that “get me out of this box” feeling I once harbored. What I now know so well about myself is that I can be happy most anywhere, as long as I’m with my family. But an important need is to have a balance of both city and country influences near by. I believe most would call this suburbia – but in a non-critical, unbiased, open-ended sort of way. No harsh comment on the ways of either fully immersed city or country living. I just need the ability to reach out and touch what I had all along in my childhood – subdued, yet calculated warmth and inclusivity, and what I so longed for as a teen – the vibrancy and accessibility offered in city life.
THT: What recent project or transaction are you most proud of?
JC: The credit card companies really did teach us something to carry into our social beliefs – the grasp of the word “priceless.” So, in the style borrowed from the world of plastic: 20,000 square feet, 27 trades people, 22 paint colors, 13 bathrooms, 6 garages, 2 swimming pools and 1 very happy client – Priceless! Just one of my latest and exciting projects that gives me great pride.
THT: In what ways has your company or your industry changed over the years?
JC: One can definitely make the argument, without much debate, that Interior Design, as an industry, has changed tremendously throughout the ages. What seemingly began as basically a non-industry has developed and grown into a large, enveloping and monetarily successful industry. Mary Haweis, an English feminist author of the 1800’s wrote, “One of my strongest convictions, and one of the first canons of good taste, is that our houses, like the fish’s shell and the bird’s nest, ought to represent our individual taste and habits.” Mary advocated that individual home-owners adopt a style, tailor made to their needs and preferences and not to follow others. After first reading Ms. Haweis’ essay, I knew I could build on just that theory. Room Resolutions is built on that viewpoint and I truly believe that that meaning translates not only to the actual design, but also to the individual. Our client’s views become the focal point of each of our projects. So change occurs with each and every client, and broader scopes of understanding of needs and wants develop within our team, in an evolutionary and profound way.
THT: Do you have a favorite object that reflects extraordinary design? Are there any stories behind it?
JC: I am extremely fortunate to own an 1889, Model A, Steinway grand piano. Following husband, children and pets, it is the love of my life. There is no better example of pure, unadulterated design and craftsmanship than a Steinway. Taken from the Steinway website: In 1853, German immigrant Henry E. Steinway founded Steinway & Sons in New York City with the goal of building the best piano possible. In the pursuit of that goal, he developed the unparalleled Steinway piano and built a legacy that stands as of the great American success stories. A century and a half later, the Steinway is still handcrafted with pride in the U.S.A.
THT: Yes, it is. Steinway is a Founding Member of The Home Trust and we, like you, have immense respect for the brand and their management which has remained true to their founding principles.
THT: What makes a room sing?
JC: Reaching to the roots of my earlier world of music as a professional clarinetist, gives me clarity while envisioning a room actually “singing.” My clarinet instructor used to tell me to dig deeper to bring out the true emotion in the music. He’d say, “Give me texture in the sound. Bring light and life to your timbre, and add pure color to your tone.” Those words have served me well, both in the music world as well as in Interior Design. Texture, color and light are basic design elements and pure muscle memory within my being.
THT: What place most inspires you?
JC: Traveling is sort of a hobby with me. It’s definitely not what I thought of as a hobby in my young life, but now reflecting on where I’ve been and what I’ve done, much of it surrounds my travels. It’s not just the travel, but the people and places of my travels. My closest friends in the world are people that I met on a ship in the middle of the Baltic Ocean – of all places. The colors of the world depict legends of times and happenings yet the people of the world tell stories that live on through themselves and their surroundings. Travel opens my senses to levels of awareness that I may perhaps keep stagnant in my everyday world. It provides a canvas with the ability to make everything reality.
THT: Please tell us about your fondness for museums:
JC: My favorite small museums are the Musikmuseet: The Danish Music Museum; The World of Instruments and Troldhaugen, Edvard Grieg Museum and concert hall in Bergen, Norway. I love the intimate environments of each museum and their connection to my first love of music. Troldhaugen even incorporates a stage complete with a grand piano, views of the water and comfortable seating to total surround their guests with the music of Grieg. It is a most memorable experience.
Large museums you ask? Who isn’t enlightened, engaged and awe struck by The Smithsonian’s 19 world-class museums, galleries, gardens and zoo? Talk about appealing to the masses, in a good way; no one is left out when you consider the topics covered in the Smithsonian. I’ve spent days, and days throughout the years trying to take in all the offerings. And a well kept secret of mine, is my intrigue of history and the people and animals engaged in creating historically significant moments. And that brings me to the American Museum of Natural History. I’ve spent hours and hours engrossed in the stories that have created us; so vivid and so exciting.
THT: When you’re not working where are you most likely to be found?
JC: My respite has always been with my family and friends. And my favorite of times is spent enjoying their company and exchange of ideas, while sipping a favorite glass of wine.
THT: What makes a great organization?
JC: If every business or organization were built on intense creativity and passion, there would only be greatness to follow. I believe in creating meaningful solutions based on a customer-centric approach. The key is to surround ourselves with those who believe the same, and trust that what we accomplish is greater than one.
THT: Why The Home Trust International?
JC: I feel very honored to have been invited to be among such extraordinary and highly respected industry individuals. The Home Trust offers the highest level of resources available throughout our industry and enables our clients to continue to select the finest of items with the greatest of ease, with a trusted industry partner.
THT: And we are equally honored that you are a part of The Home Trust.
THT: If you could be granted one wish. What would it be?
JC: Simply put: I’d wish for one more day, complete with a warm and beautiful sunrise and capped with a stunning Hawaiian sunset.
THT: If you weren’t an Interior Designer, what would you be doing?
JC: Is it fair to say that I’m meant to be doing design now and nothing other enters into the picture? I have been able to live in a world of freedom to choose, of course molded by some constraints, but always knew my passion, dedication and hard work would bring me where I needed to be at any given time and place. Perhaps a bit esoteric, but absolutely true.
THT: Thank you for your time and perspectives. You are remarkably talented and we are very proud you are a friend, a member in The Home Trust International, and a Leader in Luxury + Design.
Jane Cunningham is the President, CEO and Principal Designer of Room Resolutions; A Luxury Interior Design Firm headquartered in Las Vegas, Nevada that specializes in large-scale residential and commercial renovation and new build in Nevada, Hawaii, and widespread locations throughout the United States and globally.