Throughout her career as a creative, Julie Neill has found inspiration in her hometown of New Orleans. “I’ve always been inspired by the creative spirit that gave birth to this exquisite, historic and unique city,” Neill says. That spirit gave rise to her passion for beautiful lighting, which has become her trademark as a designer. Today, she produces industry-renowned pieces, both modern and vintage-inspired, most notably her signature white plaster creations that have become something of a calling card.

We spoke with Neill about the inspirations behind her work, her tips for fabulous and flattering lighting, and the kind of impact New Orleans has had on her aesthetic. See what she had to say, and be sure to shop her chic lighting as well as her curation of one-of-a-kind Chairish favorites.

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Julie Neill
Photo: Grace Voorhes

Tell us about how you got started in lighting design.

I was an interior designer, and I started designing and crafting a small collection of hand-painted furniture. I was given a room to decorate in a decorator showhouse, so I decided to see if I could design a chandelier for my space. I worked with a local metal fabricator to create my first piece of lighting, and at that moment, I knew I had found my calling. I have been happily designing and creating beautiful lighting ever since.

What kind of impact has living in New Orleans your whole life had on your design aesthetic and taste? 

I’ve always felt that New Orleans is my spiritual home! It feeds my designer’s soul in so many ways. It’s an exquisite old city with a rich history and a tropical setting, filled with interesting, creative people who relish the art of living beautifully. Inspiration is everywhere, from the lush vegetation to the ancient architecture to the love of celebrating well and often. 

You have become well known in the design world for your vintage-inspired light fixtures. What was your inspiration behind these pieces?

I’ve always been inspired by the hand-crafting traditions from antiquity to the present. When I first started designing custom lighting, I had many requests for antique-inspired fixtures, so I drew on my lifelong love of the history of design and began to create vintage-inspired pieces. 

Julie Neill
Photo: Lam Photography. Interior design by Kate Smith Interiors.

Are there any specific materials you are drawn to when designing light fixtures?

I am enthralled by hand-blown glass for the way it reflects the light, and I can never have too much amazing, pure white plaster in my life!

You have such a beautiful lighting line with Visual Comfort. How did this partnership come to life? What is your typical process for working with brands to create new products?

I am so honored to have been approached by Visual Comfort and I love partnering with them to create my lighting collection. When (Visual Comfort founder) Andy Singer came to New Orleans and asked me to become a design partner, I truly didn’t imagine how wonderful it would be to collaborate with him and his talented team. They have such amazing manufacturing capabilities which make my ideas come to life and make my designs accessible to such a wide audience. 

Do you have any tips and tricks for lighting different spaces of the home? 

I like a variety of light sources within a room. Layers of subtle illumination within a space create the most pleasing ambience. I find that a combination of ceiling lighting, sconces, and lamps used strategically within a space is the magic combination. 

Julie Neill
Image courtesy of designer Annelle Barnette

On Chairish & Vintage Shopping…

What do you find most compelling about Chairish?  

The most fabulous aspect of shopping on Chairish is that the world is at your fingertips! I love being able to source one-of-a-kind pieces from all over the world without having to leave home. There’s nothing more fun and fulfilling than the unexpected discovery of the perfect piece of art or furniture. 

How does sustainability factor into your design choices and love of vintage? 

I have so much appreciation of objects that were created in earlier times because they were made to last. They remind us that there’s a mystique and an intrinsic value in well-made things that have a history and that will continue to be useful in the future. 

Are there any dream vintage/antique “gets” you wish you could have? 

I’d love to own a Diego Giacometti coffee table. 

What are three of your favorite pieces on Chairish now?

I love this Giacometti-inspired coffee table; these Murano lamps; and these antique plates.

Julie Neill
Photo: Cynthia Lee. Interior design by Shelley Johnstone Design.

Some Design Favorites…

Favorite way to create a statement-making moment in a room: 

Great lighting, of course!

Favorite decorating “cheap thrill:” 

Vintage china, hotel silver, and table linens. I love setting a pretty table with interesting finds.

Favorite iconic piece of vintage design:

Diego Giacometti furniture and lighting and vintage Murano glass lamps

Favorite paint color:  

Domingue Mineral Paint by Chateau Domingue

Favorite piece of decor in your home: 

A pair of 18th-century Italian painted demilunes and a chandelier I crafted using antique crystals and brass repousse banding which hangs over my dining table

Favorite designer or artist from the past you most often turn to for inspiration: 

Diego Giacometti and Constantin Brancusi

Favorite style icon: 

Paloma Picasso

Design destination every creative should visit at least once: 

All of Italy

Best piece of career advice you’ve ever received:   

Believe in yourself and do what you do best, and hire people who have the skills you lack to take care of the other parts. 

Image: Nick Cann Photography. Interior design by Grace Frederick Design.

Some Lifestyle Favorites…

Favorite vacation destination: 

Anywhere in Italy

Favorite hotel that’s inspired your work while traveling:

My favorite hotel for inspiration is right here in New Orleans: Hotel Peter and Paul, which was created from a historic church, schoolhouse, convent, and rectory. The thoughtful and beautiful restoration of this amazing property is an endless source of inspiration and I visit it often. 

Favorite restaurant: 

Lilette in New Orleans

Favorite small museum: 

Musee Picasso Paris and The Menil Collection in Houston, including the Cy Twombly gallery and the Rothko Chapel 

Favorite Instagram accounts to follow:  

@ateliervime @markdsikesinteriors @lifeanddecor @goldennagefilms @milieumag @arielokin @geraldblandinc @aldousbertram

Favorite hostess (or thank you) gift: 

A small ceramic vase or bowl by my friend Lisa Alpaugh, the artist behind Libird Studio, filled with fresh flowers

Favorite flower: 

I’ve never met a flower I didn’t love. 

Favorite adult beverage: 


Favorite way to unwind at home: 

I love cooking for my family and friends, and for more quiet times I enjoy reading, listening to music, and prayer/meditation. 

Favorite entertaining essential: 

Fabulous food and drink, great lighting, and a lot of love

Lead image by Michael Hunter. Interior design by Lindsey Herod Interiors.

March 24, 2023

Dennis Sarlo is the executive editor of Chairish and a lover of all things design-related. Prior to joining the team, he served as the executive editor of Dering Hall and was the first site director of Architectural Digest. He was also part of the founding team of travel startup Jetsetter. He lives in New York.