Design, whether it be graphic, exterior or, in this case, interior, is often over-looked and sometimes under appreciated. When most walk into a building, initial thoughts aren’t usually how they can rearrange the space in their head, but people don’t think those things for a reason.

Interior designers arrange spaces to create a feel or atmosphere that is cohesive with the client’s needs and wants. These designers aim to create a comfortable notion among a given area, so people don’t question it, but rather embrace it and utilize it.


Emily Behrens is an aficionado of this design in the Jacksonville area, and brings a fresh viewpoint on what the medium of interior design means both in Jacksonville and design in general. Behrens comes from a long lineage of building homes and designing spaces, first working in Atlanta, and now in Jacksonville, working cohesively with her family’s unique construction business for the past few years.

The company, JBL Corporation, Inc., is unique for its one-stop-shop business capabilities as a full-service construction, engineering and interior design company in the greater Jacksonville area. Specializing in residential, commercial and medical space design and construction, each member of the Behrens family orchestrates a specific side of the business that caters to their talents. Emily and her aunt, Liz Lyons, run the interior design side of things, her father, JB, runs the construction jobs and oversees company business and her brother, Andrew, is an engineer and project manager.

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Each of them plays a key role in the designing of a space and each project is unique depending on the client, which Behrens explains, translates into a team effort in making a space or vision come alive. She mentioned that the duties overlap at times and that there are blurred lines between each duty being carried out because of the process in building and making a vision of a client reality. It may be designed to be built one way, and be constructed in a completely different way, so working cohesively helps keep things efficient and consistent.

Consistency is key in interior design and, most of the time, this transfers into what kind of design JBL is going for on a project. At times, the kind of buildings are consistent with the residential area they are working on, or the commercial space they are given and they have to conform to the standards of that area, space or client, sometimes by law.

What is your definition of design?

“Design in my eyes, really has evolved around humanity. How people perceive and function in living life, and how you can create and renovate and really tweak a space to how someone functions. I really think it’s based all around people, and allows you to perform and do your daily duties while also creating something beautiful and functional. A balance of function and aesthetics.” – Emily Behrens

Over time, Jacksonville has conformed to an architectural standard that is consistent with the area of town the building is located in. Each area has its own vibe. At the beach we see the old, but classic beach cottages and duplexes. In Riverside, you’ll find the old American classic homes of the 1940s and ‘50s. There are times where zoning capabilities and permits only allow builders and designers to build spaces that are similar to the ones around them, but the interior can vary and allow people like Behrens to design in a way that caters to their client or space provided.

“Sometimes people don’t appreciate the beautiful work of, for example, modern homes that are built in these traditional neighborhoods and it’s sad because in solitude these designs are amazing work. But at the same time, having the ability to make the interior modern or to the expectation of the client, while still conforming to the style of the exteriors surrounding the project is a unique opportunity and job,” said Behrens.

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Whether through decoration, architectural layout, a theme or brand, the designer’s goal is to produce a coordinated and harmonious space in which all aspects of the space including architecture, function and visuals of the interior are unified, pleasing to the mind and body, and appropriate to the activities taking place there.

Then in cases of commercial or residential interior design, differences arise. Possibly the design of the space is important to the company’s look and brand, while residential projects are intended to be a theme for someone’s home. Elements such as lighting, color, proportion, acoustics and scale are taken into consideration while designing a space and nine times out of 10 it is arranged in a way to fit the needs and lifestyles of the people occupying it.

In all, as mentioned in Behrens’ definition of design she suggests that design on any level is based around the needs of humanity and their needs for that design, and interior design is no different.