A Day In The Life With DesignPhiladelphia’s Co-Founder Hilary Jay

The co-founder of DesignPhiladelphia (celebrating its 10th anniversary this week!) and director of the Philadelphia Center for Architecture divulges her favorite things.

If anyone knows all about the coolest stuff in the city, it’s Hilary Jay. Ten years ago, Jay brought DesignPhiladelphia to life, and the weeklong design festival remains one of the most inspiring events of the season. (It goes through Friday, so if you haven’t yet been to one of DP’s many workshops, pop-ups, studio tours or lectures, click here to find one to attend. You won’t be sorry.)  Jay is one of my favorite people to have coffee with, partly because she’s got the wickedest sense of humor—it’s dry as toast—and because, more often than not, she’s uncovered some fantastic gem in the city, be it a new studio, store, designer or craftsperson. Here are the people, places and things that inspire her, from a magical secret garden/outdoor kitchen to her pitbull, Daisy.



Photography by Courtney Apple.

“I wake up at 5:49 every morning without an alarm clock. I live in Center City and walk everywhere as a meditation practice. // I love the [1] kale, pineapple and spinach smoothie from Four Seasons Juice Bar in Reading Terminal Market. // My friends Brian Foster and Ernie Sesskin, owners of Groundwork Home, own three acres of land with a little crumbling house as part of a vast protected land trust in Upper Roxborough. They’ve created a magical [2] outdoor kitchen—it’s only 11 miles from Center City, but it’s an absolute sanctuary. // We rescued a [3] pit bull through PAWS and named her Daisy. She’s the apple of my husband’s eye. // I love the AIA Bookstore & Design Center. Amazing collection of children’s construction toys. // [4] Kevin O’Brien is a nationally recognized textile designer—pillows, duvets, curtains, mainly in velvet—with a great studio in South Philly. // At Philadelphia Vintage & Consignment Shoppe on 12th Street, I found a Maximal Art belt that I made with John Wind 25 years ago, when we were partners and co-designers of the jewelry line. The shop has an incredible collection of historic pieces. // I like the ethnic character of the pieces at [5] Bella Turka on 13th Street. // RJ Thornburg and Warren Muller own [6] Bahdeebahdu, an appointment-only interior design and lighting studio. Warren can take everything from a Mini car to soup ladles and create inventive, engaging fixtures. // Bluecadet, an Emmy Award-winning technology company in Fishtown, produces wall-sized interactive touchscreens for museums and cultural institutions nationwide. To me, they symbolize where the 21st century is moving in terms of design.”