Spotlight: Designer Jane Manchester

Aug 22, 2014


  1. Tell us a memorable story of yourself when you were a kid. It can be funny, surprising, warm and fuzzy, whatever. Just make it a good one.

    This isn’t a specific story, but generally I was a bit of a diva when I was a kid. I started taking ballet classes at a very young age, but pretty soon thereafter I told my mom I wanted to quit because, “I already knew ballet.” For Halloween I required a costume change: Cinderella by day and the Wicked Witch by night. I truly believed I looked identical to Cinderella with a white t-shirt under my blue gown, and I had my face painted green to look like a witch. I was always very theatrical; so when Santa asked me what I wanted for Christmas as a two-year-old, I proceeded to very animatedly tell him the entire story of “The Three Little Pigs” (I also had a weird obsession with wolves). I played Adelaide in Guys and Dolls in the fifth grade, Brooklyn accent and all—it was probably the pinnacle of my diva childhood.

  2. Explain how your family background influenced your decision to pursue a career in design.

    My mom is an interior designer and my dad works in insurance. My mom’s profession is obviously very creative; and though my dad’s profession is in business, he has always been very creative as well. He and my mom designed and completely remodeled the two houses I lived in growing up. So I would say creativity and design is in my blood. I also believe that seeing my mom design professionally my whole life showed me that it is completely possible to choose a creative career and succeed at it. When you see your parent in a creative career that they’re passionate about day in and day out, it’s impossible to imagine yourself doing something you don’t completely love and for me that had to be something creative as well.

  3. You grew up in Evanston, a neighborhood in Chicago. Can you share a memory of it and explain why that particular moment stands out to you?

    I think this photo captures how amazing growing up in Evanston was for me. I was probably two when the sidewalks were redone and my parents helped me make this handprint. My two younger sisters weren’t even born yet. This slab of sidewalk is right outside of my old house, and I always go look at it when I am in Evanston. It makes me really nostalgic when I compare it to my hand now. At the time my parents probably didn’t realize how significant that handprint would be to me when I was older. But when I see it now, it’s like I can go back in time for a second.

  4. handprint

  5. What draws you to acting and singing? What gets you excited about these art forms?

    There are so many things that draw me to acting and singing. One reason in particular is that acting and singing are therapeutic and enlightening in so many ways. You can express extremely raw and strong emotions that are rarely expressed in real life. Crying at a funeral or falling in love doesn’t happen all the time; and it’s really invigorating to feel that on stage, where there are no real consequences or implications aside from how a character or theatrical experience can change your view on life and the world. Singing and music bring out emotions in a very effortless way, which can make acting feel totally natural. You learn a lot about yourself and how you emote and react to people and situations when you act. You learn even more about human beings in general and how varied and unique our perspectives are. Acting is such an intense form of empathy. It’s thrilling.

  6. Best concert you’ve ever been to, why?

    I went to see one of my favorite bands, Bombay Bicycle Club, for the second time in May. The concert was fantastic. Afterwards, I waited in line to meet the band with posters I had designed and created using a letterpress. When I got to the front of the line, they all signed one for me and then asked if I had extra copies they could keep. It was just a very cool moment for me.

  7. Of all the cities you’ve been to, which did you connect with more than any other? Why?

    Rome. Rome was the first city I went to in Europe, so that might have something to do with why I connected with it so much. Rome was far more amazing than I even imagined from an artistic, historical, architectural, or cultural standpoint. But it was something about the atmosphere and way of life that really made me want to go back and maybe even live there. Everyone was working hard, but the pace seemed so relaxed. Everything just felt really empowering and free.

  8. What is your favorite meal to cook for someone else?

    I love to cook for people, it doesn’t really matter what. I’m definitely not a spectacular cook or anything (yet), but it’s really fun trying new recipes. Plus, I get to choose the wine and the music (Van Morrison is my go to when I’m cooking). Most recently I cooked my mom’s American Thai recipe for my boyfriend. It’s delicious.

  9. Brownies, cookies, cake. Rank them and explain your reasoning.

    1) Cake is the best. It’s delicious and typically means that it’s a special occasion.

    2) Cookies are a very close second, because they are easy to make and chocolate chip cookie dough is heavenly.

    3) Brownies are pretty good too, but they’re hit or miss. Plus they can be way to rich.