For your convenience, a few of the most common questions I hear are answered for you.
Do you have additional questions? Reach out to me directly through the Contact page.
Q: What is your creative philosophy?
A: I strive to create emotionally engaging, concept-driven projects that encourage people to connect with their sense of wonder in the natural world. I always try to approach the design process with a lightness and sense of playfulness. I want people who experience my work to feel something, whether it brings them joy, encourages reflection, or inspires.
I believe great design is founded on principles and important features of a design lie in articulation of themes, arrangement and execution of details. It is my contention that the details are the true soul of a project. It is also through the detailing that the personality of the owner can be revealed.
Above all, I love the art of design. The pride derived from the realization of my designs is fulfilling, as is witnessing the enjoyment of these projects by the people who experience them.
Q: You are known to have a deep interest in plants. Where did this come from?
A: Growing up predominantly in southern California, with its Mediterranean climate, I was exposed to just about every type of plant. I had access to one of the world’s best succulent collections at the Huntington Botanical Garden; Palms from across the tropics were in neighbors front yards; Yearly explosions of native wildflowers were in the nearby hills; Wispy grasses were discovered during weekend beach excursions; Formal gardens were seen through hedgerows when exploring the windy roads of Montecito, Beverly Hills and Bel Air.
As I grew in my career I visited noteworthy gardens during my travels, natural environments and spectacular projects across the world. These experiences fostered a hunger for knowledge and increased my appreciation of plants. In fact, I was once overheard speaking in Latin to myself during a dream. Apparently, I was thinking about the botanical names of plants even while sleeping.
Q: How many projects do you typically work on?
A: When I commit to a project I absolutely give it as much focused attention as needed to achieve the lofty goals we establish. In recent years I have worked on anywhere between 5-15 projects at any given time. They are collectively staggered across different phases of development for maximum flexibility & results.
For each project I compose a core team of exceptional colleagues and consultants who have clearly defined roles and responsibilities within the project structure and schedule. We manage each others’ expectations through efficient and regular communications to ensure everyone is always performing at their highest level.
Q: Where do you find inspiration?
A: Absolutely everywhere! I believe creativity is about making connections. Inspiration for those connections can come from anything we experience: conversations, travels, dreams, art, literature, our love lives, the work of predecessors, etc. For me, the key to being inspired is to have an open mind. Some of my best projects derived inspiration from unlikely sources, such as sitting on an uninhabited island in the Russian arctic, hearing absolutely nothing other than the subtle movement of grasses in the wind, or reading a passage from the book,”The Persistence of Yellow”.
Because I trail run in the forest, love museums, read a wide range of books and articles, regularly travel for pleasure and research, look at all kinds of creative work, like painting, photography, furniture design, and sculpture…my mind is fertile ground.
RUNNING A STUDIO
Q: How do you handle running a studio, while also mentor staff, design & manage projects, market for new clients, oversee IT, and everything else?
A: Time management is the key, along with Structure that has built-in flexibility, Reality check breaks, Listen to my inner voice, Commitment to excellence at all levels, Follow through on everything, Being honest to yourself and others……I awake every morning grateful I have these opportunities.
Most important, I have a tremendously supportive family who understand my passions and drive.
Q: How important is formal design education?
A: I loved design school a great deal. I initially began studying psychology at the university level, with a particular interest in how & why people interact with their physical environments. One day I walked in on a joint architecture/landscape architecture design presentation and I was hooked. I immediately understood I could combine several interests of mine, along with looking at life through artist’s glasses, into a fulfilling pursuit.
Having said that, many of my favorite people were not formally educated for long periods in the fields in which they excelled. This gives credence to the tenant that if a person has a true passion for something and tremendous determination most anything is within reach. A formal education largely teaches foundational knowledge. How a person applies knowledge is the truest barometer of their success. This same foundational knowledge can also be acquired through living life and working through the same sort of experiences one would have if acquired primarily through formal education. In fact, it is known people generally learn more deeply by actively doing.
Q: What is the biggest professional risk you have taken?
A: I was the most adventurous when deciding to move to Shanghai to work with a multi-national firm out of Singapore as their Senior Designer. The projects in the company were multi-family residential on podium and resorts. At the time I hadn’t much experience with these and the world economy was at its lowest. I jumped into the water head-first and embraced every opportunity wholeheartedly, making great friends along the way, too. I can now happily say I have designed countless projects of these types across the world. Several are represented on this website.
Q: What is success? Is it financial? Is it having your name associated with major projects?
A: I believe success is rooted in one’s happiness. It is relative to one’s expectations and goals, and different for everyone. Some of us find this in retaining a lot of money, others in a career, others in love, children, or in friends. It doesn’t really matter how much or how little you have, it’s a state of mind.
For me, success means working on the projects I most enjoy. It means I can choose how and where to spend my time. It means I can generously give holiday and birthday gifts without financial constraints. It means coming home to my smiling daughter and wife after a business trip.
Q: Who do you admire and respect?
A: To list a few off the top of my head right now: Mahatma Gandhi, day laborers who wire abroad 3/4 of their income to family, Steve Jobs, a waitress I met in a one room restaurant on the outskirts of a small town in China, a young father I met in a Russian Chukchi village. From the world of Design: Thomas Heatherwick, Tadao Ando, Bjarke Ingels, Frank Gehry, Greene & Greene, Piet Oudolf, Paul Bangay, Dan Pearson, among many others.
I believe you can learn something from everyone. I’ve never been in awe of anyone because of there success. I admire qualities from a wide range of people.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]