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This Local Designer is Making San Diego Look Fabulous

Up next, Jules Wilson sets her stylish sights on the I.D.E.A. District and Belmont Park’s historic Plunge pool



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Photo by Brady Architectural Photography

Jules Wilson

Jules Wilson knows her way around a fabric swatch and refuses to be intimidated by a 45-story high-rise. The interior designer has been in the business for 22 years, starting with yacht design and eventually graduating to residential and commercial. These days she’s focused on the hospitality and multifamily industries and spends time thinking about how to elevate style without sacrificing comfort.

“I’m drawn to simplicity and texture, but not necessarily austerity, and not cold, hard things,” says Wilson. “Right now the trend seems like it has to be rustic and industrial to be casual and comfortable. I’d like to see a more refined metropolitan design that’s still casual.”

The 43-year-old Little Italy resident finds inspiration from the art and design in places like Miami. “It’s design-y in a warm climate, like here,” she explains. “But it’s grittier, and I like that.”

For this Rancho Santa Fe home designed by local architects Taal Safdie and Ricardo Rabines, Wilson and her team used Italian designers like B&B Italia and Minotti and commissioned artists out of L.A. and Miami to dress the walls.

Even the everyday can spark an idea. On a recent trip to New York, she was fascinated by the different shapes of the city street grates, which led to a custom art installation at a project in Houston. She says, “I really feel like I am trying to differentiate myself by having brave, bold, and simple designs that don’t feel pretentious.”

At the Grey House apartment building in Houston, Wilson employed a fashion-as-art concept, inspired by the great Parisian fashion houses. | Photo by Tarick Foteh

Her portfolio is evidence of this design ethos. A few years ago, Wilson was charged with completing the interiors of a Rancho Santa Fe residence conceived by local architects Taal Safdie and Ricardo Rabines. Wilson oversaw the finishes, built-ins, and furnishings. She also commissioned much of the artwork, from L.A.- and Miami-based artists.

The Grey House apartments sit atop high-end retailers like Tom Ford and Dolce & Gabbana. | Photo by Tarick Foteh

In addition, she recently completed several multifamily high-rises built by the local development firm Oliver McMillan. Joining their successful projects in Houston and Honolulu is an urban apartment building in San Diego’s East Village called EV, whose entrance is located across from the NewSchool for Architecture and Design. Wilson’s inspiration for the building is summed up by an installation in the entryway that reads: “Home is where the art is.”

Looking forward, the designer has definite opinions on where the trends in hospitality and multifamily are headed. “The hotel world wants to feel more residential, and the multifamily industry wants to feel more like a hotel,” she explains.

This art installation at the EV Lofts in SD’s East Village is set on a wall of draft paper, inspired by the neighboring NewSchool of Architecture. | Photo by Brady Architectural Photography

Wilson is currently taking on Fit Plunge, a huge “very next-level” revamp of the Plunge pool building and its surrounds in Belmont Park. “It will be the coolest gym San Diego has seen yet,” she says proudly, describing the multiple levels of high-tech equipment and the open-air rooftop overlooking the Pacific.

The luxury Symphony Honolulu condos feature incredible ocean views and sleek Gaggenau appliances. Wilson says, “You feel like you are on vacation just living there.”

She’s also working with I.D.E.A. District co-founders David Malmuth and Pete Garcia on IDEA1, their first official project in the new downtown neighborhood. Its courtyard will be a hub that’s open to the public, hosting TED Talk–style speakers, concerts, gallery showings, and more.

“I just like working with clients that have a strong passion toward design,” she says. But of course, when you’re a designer, it all comes down to looks—and if left to Wilson’s devices, San Diego’s future is looking fabulous.

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