Five Questions with Jill Malek

Jill Malek x Astek

We had the pleasure of working with designer Jill Malek on our new mountain-inspired wallcovering collection Ascend. The beauty and artistry of the Ascend collection speak for itself, be we wanted to learn more about the designer’s process and point of view. With more than a decade of experience running her studio, we were interested in everything from her approach to her family life to her wellness rituals. In addition to her product lines, Jill’s stellar portfolio features several industry giants, such as Google and Bloomingdale’s. We thank Jill for her restorative designs in an ever more chaotic world! Read on to learn more about Jill.

You founded your design studio in 2008. What was your first project or product under your brand?

My first product was called “FLUX." It was a silk-screened repeat wallpaper pattern inspired by the flocking birds that moved in unison with the pigeon fancier living across the street from me in Brooklyn. It became a springboard for my interest in capturing fluid forms in nature and inspired all future collections. Since then, I decided to modernize the “Flux” design and re-interpret the motif with my “Migration” pattern, a non-repeating mural that also captures the feeling of moving birds in the sky. This pattern has also been one of my best sellers in recent years, so it makes me happy that the initial passion that fueled my company is reaching my audiences in positive, impactful ways.

Highlands wallcovering

How would you describe your creative approach and design aesthetic?

I strive to create patterns that feel transformative and fluid. My main goal is to create imagery that feels both soothing AND energetic simultaneously. This means I start with a minimalist, soft approach and slowly layer in vibrant colors to achieve visual interest. It’s not easy, but it’s been my lifelong goal to strike this delicate balance.

Your studio is in the heart of Manhattan. What's your favorite part about being a New Yorker?

Living in New York can be ROUGH. I won’t sugarcoat the experience of living here. It doesn’t always feel like I am "living in the greatest city on earth.” It’s a non-stop battle, and sometimes I feel like I have to be a warrior. I often get winded. The pace is manic, the expenses are insane, and the anxiety rises daily! But I can’t imagine living anywhere else. I know so many diverse communities of people that add a rich texture to my life, that educate me in unexpected ways, and force me to grow. I opt for growth any day of the year, so New York, in that sense, is a sparkling diamond. So to answer your question, my favorite part about being a New York is my robust, RICH community of fascinating people.

Ascend Wallcovering Collection

Wellness and caring for others is a thread that runs through your familial and professional life. Do you have a self-care practice?

I do! I meditate every single day for a minimum of 20 minutes. The practice grounds me, allows me to get quiet, and often helps me come up with creative solutions to challenging problems I face personally and professionally. I also exercise a minimum of 2-3 times per week, which helps me clear my mind and strengthens me.

What's your favorite design in the Ascend wallcovering collection?

The patterns with which I struggle the most often end up being my favorite patterns. In this case, it was Close Range. Initially, when I designed this, it felt off-kilter and vertigo-inducing, but by creating a more monochrome subtle palette, it achieved the perfect balance of soothing and impactful movement. It creates a sense of being on edge, but in a soothing way—a contrast that I think is interesting. I especially LOVE this pattern in the grasscloth substrate as it creates a sublime tactile texture.

Close Range wallcovering