Jennifer McDermott

Jennifer McDermott



“I get the most satisfaction out of renovation projects where there’s a before and after. That’s where you can really see a difference in senior living. Residents are typically resistant to change, but when they see their environment start to transform, the feedback is very different. It’s so rewarding when they walk by as you're installing the final artwork and accessories, and they tell you how much they love it.”

Design has always been a part of Jennifer’s life, having grown up in a family of architects in Chicago. She remembers always being sensitive to the types of environments she was in, scrutinizing spaces and thinking about how they could be improved, whether it was a room’s layout or a store’s product display. She explored fashion design in high school before coming across information about interior design coursework at the fine-arts focused Columbia College Chicago. “I’ve always been around architecture, but I didn’t understand the interior aspects,” she says. “I was drawn to that type of program.”

Of her twenty-two years as an interior designer, Jennifer has spent seventeen of them with Perkins Eastman, having joined the firm’s Chicago studio soon after it was opened as an arm of its senior living practice. As the only interior designer in the studio, Jennifer quickly applied her skills to senior living, seeing much opportunity for growth since the industry “felt too much like healthcare” at the time, and residential communities had a distinctly institutional feel. Jennifer has been part of the vanguard ever since, transforming senior living interiors to be more closely aligned with hospitality and residential design. “One of the biggest challenges is creating these spaces that feel like home, but which also have to perform in a certain way,” she says.

Our Perkins Eastman

Jennifer is integral to the firm’s growth, both externally and internally. She serves on a committee that aims to keep Perkins Eastman on the front lines of senior living, for one, striving to raise the bar continually for its quality of work in this practice area. She also collaborates with ForrestPerkins, a distinct interior design studio of Perkins Eastman, to share work and get inspiration and ideas. Jennifer leads the firmwide design committee for senior living interiors, and serves as a mentor to emerging professionals on the firm’s Thought Leadership and Communications team.


  • Phone:

  • +1 (312) 873-6276
  • Email:

  • Linkedin:

  • Education

  • Columbia College Chicago;
    B.F.A. Interior Design
  • Harper College, Associate's Degree
  • Associations

  • International Interior Design Association