Architect and Interior Designer Elizabeth Rose Jackson Is Telling Her Own Stories Through Her Work

Photo by Stian Rasmussen

“Every project starts with a story,” says architect and interior designer Elizabeth Rose Jackson. “It sets the mood and brings the project to life.” After a decade of leading the interior architecture team for San Francisco design giant Ken Fulk, Jackson is creating her own stories. In 2022, she opened Elizabeth Rose Jackson, Interiors in downtown San Anselmo.

Jackson’s design tales are like multimedia art installations, providing tone and vision through layered fabrics, colors and imagery. “You could compare it to a movie or a way of thinking,” she says. “The story becomes the guidebook for the entire project.”

Jackson’s own design story began in the small coastal town of Anacortes, Washington, where her father was a boatbuilder. “I grew up playing in the wood shop and learning how to use tools,” she says. “I was always making things.” In a high school art history class, Jackson discovered Scottish architect and designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh. “Looking at his body of work was like a lightbulb turned on,” she says. “I remember thinking, ‘that’s the job for me.’ ”

Jackson went on to study art and architectural history at the University of Washington, then made her way to San Francisco, where she received her master’s in architecture from the California College of the Arts in 2010.

When Jackson started working for Ken Fulk he’d just completed his award-winning design for San Francisco’s prestigious social club The Battery, and the work was flooding in. “It was hard and intense and the hours could be brutal, but that’s the nature of the industry,” she says. Working alongside Fulk, whom she describes as a “devout maximalist with a theatrical quality,” Jackson learned how to tell a design story. “Ken’s an incredible storyteller,” she says. “He can get people to come along with his vision and journey.”

With Fulk, Jackson designed local celebrity chef Tyler Florence’s steakhouse Miller & Lux, which opened at the Chase Center in 2021. It was an experience she compared to “drinking from a fire hose.” “Working on a restaurant is fun, fast and intense,” she says. “As soon as someone hits ‘go,’ it’s relentless.” There are also critical logistical and regulatory considerations with restaurant design, she explains.

Despite the differences, Jackson uses the same storytelling process with restaurant design as she does with residential projects. Working closely with Florence, she created a story for Miller & Lux about a classic American steakhouse rooted in San Francisco history. “There’s a moody quality to the bar, almost like an opium den,” she says. “You can go from 1895 to 1955 San Francisco in that restaurant.”

Jackson says the hardest part of starting her own firm was learning to trust her instincts. “It’s been a process of self-discovery and recalibration,” she says. “I’m still getting comfortable with the fact that I’m the only person making decisions.” For now, most of her time is devoted to Tyler Florence ventures, including Miller & Lux Provisions, a Parisian-inspired “grab and go” patisserie in Union Square, and a second Miller & Lux steakhouse at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai in Hawaii, which opened in December of 2023. She’s also working on her own creative space, using her loft-like studio to showcase her style. “If you had to call me anything, I’d say I’m a ‘minimal maximalist,’” she says. “I like modern pieces, but I’m going to layer on top of them. I’m all about living with a mixture of antiques and new.”

Her studio — which is walking distance from the 1908 hunting cabin she and her husband, architect Michael (“Meez”) Perkins, are in the process of renovating — is an eclectic combination of traditional and surprising, with bright pops of color and unique pieces. Her immense conference table was fashioned from an 1850s grand piano from her childhood home; a fluffy hot pink chaise lounge beckons from a far corner. “I’m definitely telling my own design story here,” she says. “This is unapologetically me.”

As Jackson settles in, she’s excited to join the design community in San Anselmo and plans to host parties and community-related events. “There are so many talented designers here and there’s a willingness and desire to engage with design,” she says. She’s already considering expanding her studio, and she likes the idea of a retail storefront. “San Anselmo is so ripe for that,” she says. “There’s so much commercial real estate available.” It’s an exciting time for Elizabeth Rose Jackson, and it seems her path is just starting to unfold.

Miller and Lux in Hualalai
Miller & Lux Hualalai at the Four Seasons Hualalai (Photo by Don Riddle)