Jake and Jazz Smollett Are ‘Living By Design’ Unapologetically

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You know the Smollett’s are always up to something. This time around, big sis Jazz Smollett-Warwell and middle bro Jake Smollett are back with a collaborative effort that’s sure to be talked about.  Of all the businesses and ventures they’ve worked together on, this is the very first time they’ve hosted a show jointly. They’re invading spaces and transforming clients’ living rooms and palates on this budding 30-minute program, Living By Design. If you didn’t know already, living by design is simply living your best life to the fullest and authentically, according to the two. Jazz is the interior decorator, and Jake is the woodmaster, but they both throw down on a dish or two.

With that very concept imagined, Rochelle Brown with Powerhouse Productions brought the idea forth to the siblings, and without question, they were in.  Jake stated, “She came up to us on the set of a show. We were promoting the cookbook; Jazz and I were doing a segment on there. She told us about the show; it was involving design and food, so that immediately piqued our interest.”  We’re glad it did!

When we spoke, it was brief, but it felt like much longer.  It was so fun. We joked about Jazz shopping at 3:00 am for their next home design (online thrifting, of course), and Jake jokingly added, “You know, really sanding nine foot tables at three in the morning.”  You had to be on the call to laugh as hard as we did. Bottom line is, they are dedicated to their crafts and that is what they’ve always been exposed to, so what else can you expect. That’s what Powerhouse must’ve seen when they approached the brother and sister.

They knew this would be groundbreaking, something that’s never been done.  Jake admitted at the time, “She didn’t know that I build and that Jazz bakes, so we kind of incorporated that into the show and were able to bring our style to it; basically, it’s a great vehicle for us to showcase a lot of our passions, including cooking, baking, and building and design.”

The best part of these two is they talk so favorably of their upbringing, growing up with their parents and four siblings in a home full of love and creativity.  They’re always reminded of how humble their start-up was from mama’s cooking to the family table she built by hand herself; mama stretched a dollar and made a sanctuary at home with what she had and how she could.  Jazz related and expressed, “That’s exactly what we’re trying to do with each of the sixteen inspiring stories that we see throughout this first season, bring a sanctuary to each person’s home that we are redesigning for, and celebrate that sanctuary with a meal and friendship.”  Speaking of first season, when asked if there were any plans for a second, Jake said, “It’s a new network, they love the show, and they’ve expressed that they do, but we definitely hope for a season two.” He talked about how fun it has been doing this show, “I’m not even making this up.  It’s not that often when you’re doing a first season and things just fall into place as easily as they did. It was a lot of challenge on it and we’re really hands on;” to the reference that Jazz is really picking couches at 3:00 am (online, again of course); she’s really doing these things.

Aside from everything, the best part is they get to create, which is much like they do in their real lives, so they’re true to this.  Jake proudly built his wooden king bed himself, as well as his dining table. He admits, “Most things in my house I built, and then I cook for myself, or my family or whoever is around every day.  So it really is like we do the daily. It’s very organic to our lifestyle and it really just came so natural because it is what we do.” The show has been great and they have so many life-changing stories already, from black boy joy to 60s black box theater-style seating.      They’re accentuating culture into spaces in an entirely different way that we don’t often see in lifestyle experiences, and especially reflections of us and who we are as people of color.      

When asked about the process, how clients are selected, meal plans, refurbishing and/or rebuilding ideas.  Jazz confirmed how it’s done, “By casting, they’re all regular people. They search them out, some people were recommended by producers, or maybe we knew of someone.”  The show is mostly millennial women of color, but there are a few men on as well. Working on CLEO TV, a newly launched network serving as a compliment to TV One, has given the siblings their very first opportunity to truly focus on content for the millennial woman of color.  There are sixteen different stories, which offer sixteen episodes of design tips and delicious recipes you too can find inspiration from.

The task begins with a filtered process of who needs what and the stories are developed and diversified from there, such as what career path they’re on.  Jazz and Jake are extremely hands-on through the process as well, like real “bawses” should. Once approved by the network, there’s an extensive conversation to be had with the guest regarding what they like (tones, colors, what fits their personality, what’s their style, etc.)  They disclose, “We ask a wide array of questions to kind of get a sense of what would be the best redesign to do for them that would really bring out and illuminate their personality.”  

There’s nothing like the feeling that you’ve walked into your very own space when you get there.  Living By Design has everything to do with who they are. Just as they ask questions about their design choices, they ask similar questions to put together a divine custom cuisine that’ll both like and love.  Their actual style and tastes are married to unveil a marvelous surprise; “They see the redesign in their space when they walk in, and then they invite a family member or a friend over for the reveal meal. We prepare dessert, a cocktail and a meal for their friends and family to come over.  It’s a fun little day with them.”  

Jazz has described their work as, design defined by “culture, passion and personality.”  No cookie cutting designing over here. Every personality is being served on this show. Sometimes that’s not always a big build, it may be a refurbish, and it really does tell a story, Jake said.

As busy as they already are, Jake is adding yet another cookbook to the mix.  He’ll be dropping some e-books in the summer of maybe thirty or forty recipes, while producing recipe videos on YouTube as well.  Jazz has her hands full as well with a bunch of projects and behind the scenes work. She just wrote a children’s book and she’ll be working on an international dessert cookbook, and working on developing a talk show.  One thing is for sure the Smollett family does not stop, as they shouldn’t. They’re living by design, which you can live yours and check them out on CLEO TV every Saturday at 12:00 PM ET. They re-run it all day, just check your local listings.  Philo TV is the website and app that you can download, stream, and watch it there on the go. No excuse not to live your life by design, with this show at the helm. 

Make sure to follow them on Instagram, Jake Smollett and Jazz Smollett-Warwell.

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