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Joni Vanderslice & Shell Neely Hilton Head, SC

Interview with Joni Vanderslice & Shell Neely of J Banks Design

Welcome to a brand new series of Designer Spotlights, focusing on the group of top designers who will bring to life the Diamonds of Design Vignette Exhibition at AmericasMart beginning in January 2017. In celebration of AmericasMart’s sixtieth anniversary, this select group of designers will bring to life their most inspiring design moments, eras and lifestyles of the last 60 years using their favorite finds from the market. The next of our designers to be featured are…Joni Vanderslice & Shell Neely! Joni, owner of J. Banks Design, founded her multidiscipline design firm thirty years ago. Since then, she has nurtured the Hilton Head Island-based operation into an internationally recognized force in residential and resort design. Shell Neely offers a fresh perspective for clients looking to update their homes or completely renovate. Shell excels at incorporating family heirlooms and modern pieces to create a timeless design, and will provide the perfect complement to Joni’s aesthetic when they team up to create their AmericasMart vignette. REstyleSOURCE recently chatted with these talented designers, in a brief Q&A which will not only give our readers some background on their design philosophy, but also what they can expect to see from their Diamonds of Design Vignette at AmericasMart Atlanta in January…


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Photo c/o J Banks Design

How did you get started in the world of interior design?

Joni Vanderslice: I grew up in High Point, NC and was around the showrooms during market.  It was my favorite time of the year.  I knew instinctively that I would be a designer.

Shell Neely: I was always very artistic and creative growing up, and when I took a part time job at a custom bedding and drapery boutique in high school, interior design really came on my radar as a way to channel my artistic and creative talents.

What inspires your creativity? 

Joni: Travel is my main source of inspiration.  I love taking in the culture, the people, how they behave, what they wear, how they prepare and serve food.  All of that inspires me, not to mention architecture, color palettes, mixed materials, antiques, etc. I specifically target hotels and restaurants to visit in each city based on their design.  Absorbing other industry expert’s perspectives is also motivating and always pushes my creativity.


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Photo c/o J Banks Design

Do you have any favorite quotes that may have inspired your philosophy?

Joni & Shell: “Home is Resort and Resort is Home” is actually a quote that defines our design philosophy.  To us, it serves as our goal and what we can provide for our clients.  We want to know their favorite hotels and deliver designs that make them feel as special as they do when they are visiting the special place, and likewise, we give our commercial clients a look that feels like an elevated version of a residential living room.  It’s all in attention to detail and creating interiors for each specific client.  J. Banks projects are personal, livable, functional and beautiful.


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Photo c/o J Banks Design

J Banks previewDesigner Notes: Inspiration

Diamonds of Design will focus on style standouts of the last 60 years. Which design icon, style or era from the last 60 years particularly inspires you? 

 Joni:   I’m simply eclectic.  I love mixing styles and looks to create one of a kind, unique looks.

Shell:  J. Banks Design celebrated our 30th anniversary this year, so we were inspired by the 1980s, the decade we were founded.

What was the inspiration behind your vignette? Which vendors and products did you go with to create this look?

Shell:  We pulled in all the elements that we loved back then [in the 80s], but that are once again on trend in an updated way.  Soft brass, Lucite, and fur are perfect examples of some of these elements.  We also introduced tribal patterns (remember all those rad florescent Aztec prints?), but selected a more sophisticated palette with artistic interpretations of African motifs.   The drapery fabric is from the J. Banks Collection for Kravet (seen at left), and is aptly named, Tanzania.  Joni’s designs for the fabric collection were inspired by her many trips to the country while working to open her orphanage, the Valentine Project, in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Our favorite pieces in the vignette are the Gerlock chairs (seen at left), also from the J. Banks Collection for Stanford Furniture.  The comfort is extraordinary, and the reclining mechanism and hardware not only work beautifully but are a gorgeous part of the design.  Other vendors you can find in our vignette include the rich, textured wallpaper from Philip Jeffries and art, furniture and accessories from Oly, Regina Andrew, Barbara Cosgrove, Worlds Away, Pigeon & Poodle, Palecek, Jamie Young, Currey & Co, Bungalow 5, Waylande Gregory, Moss Studio, Bobo Intriguing Objects, Lacefield and more!

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Photo c/o J Banks Design

Joni & Shell’s Must-See AmericasMart Showrooms?

JB showrooms

Jaipur Living | CODARUS | jdouglas | South Africa’s Lifestyle Hub

Joni:  It’s too hard to choose!  AmericasMart is such a grand resource full of vendors that inspire our project designs.  I especially love sourcing accessories and items for our retail store at AmericasMart, not to mention linens – both for the table and the bed, as this is a category that is hard to purchase from small samples.  The temporaries are always fun to shop as I always tend to find a new vendor that excites me!

Designer Tips on shopping the market?

Shell:  Allow yourself plenty of time since there is so much great product to see over such a large building, you don’t want to feel rushed or miss anything. For designers, the “designer resource library” on the 15th floor is a great asset to be able to sit down and look through their catalogs and process everything you’ve seen.

JB 2Photo c/o J Banks Design

St Cecilia ATLREstyleSOURCE Loves Local

We are all about ‘loving local’—from designers and manufacturers right down to local brick & mortar shops and eateries! What are some of your favorite local shops and restaurants to visit when you’re in Atlanta?

“I love Sid and Ann Mashburn and Calypso for shopping.  St Cecilia (seen at left), King + Duke, and True Food Kitchen are also mainstays.”

– Joni Vanderslice

Image 2Photo c/o J Banks Design

Finally, any favorite entertaining/design/style tips for us? 

Joni:  For me, I’m all about setting a beautiful table.  It makes your guests feel as special as the meal you cook.  And while I’m passionate about a pretty table, it doesn’t need to be fussy.  I’ll take my clippers and head outside for greenery, palms and flowers.  I add interest by mixing in unique objects and lots of candle light.  One of my favorite things to use on a table is my collection of Herend figurines.  Don’t be stifled by typical décor: adding in unexpected touches generates conversation and allows guests to get to know a bit more about you.


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Up Close & Personal With the Designer

Coffee or Tea?  Joni: GOOD coffee!! Shell: Hot coffee, iced SWEET tea / Salty or Sweet? J: Salty, specifically, BBQ potato chips! S: Sweet / City or Country? J: Country S: Country / Cats or Dogs? J: Dogs S: Dogs (I have two) / Text or Phone Call? J: Text S: Text…even my 92 year old grandmother texts me / Beach or Mountains? J: Are both an option?! S: Such a hard one for me, I moved from the Rocky Mountains to the Low Country two years ago and I love them both

beach mountains

Night Owl or Early Riser?  J: Night owl forced to be an early riser. S: Night owl / Yoga or Salsa Dancing?  J: Paddleboarding!  But salsa dancing if I have to choose! S: Salsa / Read the Book or See the Movie?  J: Read the book S: Book / Kindle or Hardcover? J: Kindle S: Hardcover / Luxury Hotel or Camping Trip? J: Do both but prefer a luxury hotel (it’s my job). S: Camping / Home Cooked Meal or Fancy Restaurant? J: Home cooked meal prepared by my husband. S: Restaurant, or else I’m the one doing the cooking!

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