Archives for category: Design

In college, my friends could basically be put into one of two categories.  Volleyball friends, and Studio.  Those two categories pretty well sum up how I spent most of my time for those few years.  I feel very fortunate that both categories have established friendships that I continue to cherish to this day.  It seems appropriate, this week of Thanksgiving (a little delayed in posting…having some technical issues with adding photos to this post…argh), to write a post that’s primarily about gratitude for some of the people in my life.

The volleyball friends never really understood where I went when I had to go to “Studio.”  They didn’t have majors that allowed them 24/7 access to their own private workspace.  They usually weren’t pulling all-nighters, either.  So when I said I had to leave volleyball open gym to get back to work in Studio, it was pretty nebulous to them.  Some of them thought I was making up this mystical place.  Not so the 16 other people with whom I shared said Studio.  ASU’s interior design program required that design majors “apply” for upper division in their major after sophomore year.  We had to submit portfolios and transcripts and take part in an all-day design charette.  Out of 50+ applicants, 17 were admitted to upper division for the remaining 3 years (it was a 5-year program).  So for those last three years of college, this group – 16 women and one guy – was my sorority, of sorts.

We realized a year or so into upper division that our little group was unique.  We talked to students in the class behind us, and they were so competitive, they would ask questions during critiques designed to trip each other up…our classmates, on the other hand, asked questions to help the presenter remember what she wanted to say, but in her state of sleep-deprived delirium, had forgotten.  We were competitive, but in a way that raised the bar for everyone, and made you proud to be part of the group.  We had studiomates that helped each other put together the last-minute touches of a presentation board, or lent a hand to glue together a model that had fallen apart right before the crit.  We celebrated holidays together with massive pot-lucks.  Even before graduation, we started the circuit of weddings, and then shortly after, babies – all of which made great excuses for reunions.

Fast forward 14 years, and we still keep in touch.  I just got back from a weekend in Arizona where we got 9 out of the 17 together for another little studio reunion of sorts.  It started out as a chance to introduce my 4-month-old son to the group, but was really just a long overdue opportunity to get everyone together and catch up, husbands and children included.  And in typical form, our get togethers are marked by a real show of support for whatever challenges life might be throwing our way – whether it be an ailing parent, a sick kid, or a marriage in trouble – all without judgement.

It was so comforting to be around this group.  I’m one of the last to join the “motherhood” club of our circle, and it was wonderful to feel the support of a bunch of moms whom I trust to be real with me about the challenges of raising a child.  So when I admitted that my son wasn’t sleeping through the night, or anything close to it, I got a lot of reassuring nods from friends who had been there and were willing to admit that their kids sometimes still didn’t sleep through the night.  And when I had to interrupt a conversation with one friend to tend to my crying infant who was outside with Dad, she called after me, “good sentence!” like “good talk!”, and with a shared smile, we both knew that she meant it, and she understood what I had to do, and that we’d eventually pick up where we left off.  Just like we always do.

People talk about friends being the family you choose, but in this case, we didn’t really choose.  It’s like life chose for us.  And for us, the word “Studio” has come to mean something very close to “family.”


It’s been waaay too long since I’ve posted anything.  Sorry ’bout that.  Blame it on lots to do at work and being up to my eyeballs in the double-digit-wedding-day-countdown.  (Thank goodness for all the websites telling me how many days I have if I’d forget?!)  But enough about that.  That actually isn’t what this post is all about.  It’s about design.  And why we do what we do.  And about finding ways to remind ourselves of that.

I attended this year’s “Pioneers in Design” event a few weeks ago – one of the big four hosted annually by the Northern California Chapter of the International Interior Design Association (IIDA).  The event is about honoring someone (or some group) that is considered to be leading the way and doing something unique as it relates to the world of design.  This year’s honoree was Clive Wilkinson, and the event included a short film about his work, followed by a Q&A session with IIDA Executive VP and CEO, Cheryl Durst.  Cheryl is always entertaining, and this time was no exception, but what I liked best was walking away with a feeling of perspective.  These events tend to rejuvenate my design spirit, and it’s what I like most about them – they force me to back up and take in the bigger picture and remember all the things that are so wonderful about design, what it can do, and how it touches everything in our lives.

Official poster from event

It’s far too easy to get bogged down with the day-to-day routine – putting out fires at work, getting frustrated with the mundane little taks.  At times like these, it’s even more important to reignite that little spark – the one that fuels the fire for choosing this profession over countless others, including all of those less time-consuming and more lucrative.  I know I need the occasional reminder.  Here are just a few tidbits I took away from Clive’s talk that turned me back in a positive direction…

1)  There are no great projects without great clients.

2)  We are extremely fortunate to be trusted to affect the spaces that people use every day.

3)  That urban design and interior design are both about how people relate to and use places; in that respect architecture is the odd man out, since it tends to be more about creating containers for space and is more static.  (I really liked his describing interiors in that way, as it’s so often marginalized by architecture.  It further supports why I switched from architecture to interiors in college – I wanted to influence the parts of space that have a more immediate and intimate impact on people’s experience.)

4)  Don’t offer “options.”  Rather than creating several shallowly developed options for clients to choose from, engage them more deeply (challenge them to be more involved) to create a solution that can evolve into something much more meaningful.  (Apparently Clive doesn’t do “options” and this is why he was fired from Gehry’s office.)

5)  “Turning the mundane into the extraordinary” – Clive was referencing a description of poetry, but using it to describe what we do…many of the tasks for which we design may very well be mundane, but hopefully we can add something to that experience to make someone’s work more effective or more enjoyable.  (We may have clients who talk about wanting to make the workspace more fun, but rarely is it beyond the assorted ping pong tables and bean bag chairs.  We should be looking for ways to enable the enjoyment of the work that actually needs to get done – not the playtime in between.)

And I’ll wrap up with a funny quote Clive shared when asked about his recent fatherhood, that he attributed to an unknown source (the quote, that is, not the baby):  “Adults may make babies, but babies really make adults.”  Cute.

So…what re-inspires you?  What gives you some much-needed perspective?

I have a new obsession.  It’s the biggest computer time suck since Tetris in the early 90s (for me, at least).  And I love it.  It’s called Pinterest.  Slap me if you’ve heard all this before, but it’s fairly new to me.  It is genius.  I’m sure I’m not the only one with a folder full of of inspiration images on my computer (and several binders-full, torn from magazines, on my bookshelves), but this great little website allows you to “pin” your favorite images from around the interwebs, with links to the original location (great for tracking things down later), and you can share them with friends who “follow” you.  You can also sort them into “boards,” which is great for categories like food, clothes, design, etc.  I really wish I had discovered this at the beginning of my wedding planning, instead of near the end, but hindsight…oh well.

Crack – well that’s one way to describe it.  I’d rather think of it as a place for all the pretty things.

Happy Friday!

I had the honor and pleasure of arranging the flowers for Cameron & Amanda’s beautiful wedding in Tahoe two weekends ago.  The ceremony was at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church and the ceremony followed at the Chateau, both in Incline Village.  But the adventure started long before that…


Flowers prepped in the garage


It’s been ten years now that I’ve been helping Emily do wedding flowers, but this is the first complete wedding I’ve done on my own.  Well, not completely on my own.  I certainly couldn’t have done it without huge help from my mom and Megan!  Thanks you two!

But back to the adventure…I started some time around o’dark-thirty on Wednesday morning.  I made it to the San Francisco Flower Mart before the sun.  Armed with my buying guide (you’re a Godsend, Em!), I made the rounds to all the different shops and booths, searching for calla lilies galore (and orchids, and bells of Ireland).  It was a little nerve-wracking, a little thrilling, and a lot of fun.  And I am not a morning person.

With flowers and greens loaded up in the back of my dad’s SUV (so thanks to Dad, too!), I headed to Chris’ garage to prep.  This involved unwrapping all the bunches, removing rubber bands and cellophane and cutting all the stems.  Hundreds of stems.  I should’ve counted.  Not really.  Then with the flowers in buckets, I loaded up the car once more.  It was packed.  To the gills.  Side-to-side and floor-to-ceiling.  Thank goodness I got Chris’ golf clubs in there beforehand.  I went upstairs to break the news to him that he could only pack about two cubic feet worth of clothes because that’s all the room I had left.  I drove the whole way to Tahoe with my purse in my lap, that’s how packed it was.


Ready to go!


Oh, and then there was the temperature.  We had to keep those flowers fresh!  A/C the whole way.  Chris thought he was in a meat locker.  Stay tuned for more about the wedding and pictures of the end results!

I don’t know what brides-to-be did before the internet.  Really.  I guess it was all about the bridal magazines.  These days, there’s a veritable plethora of virtual wedding planning going on.  (Full disclosure:  while I never bought a wedding magazine before I got engaged, there may have been a wee bit of wedding blog browsing going on, but purely to help friends getting married, or floral design research for helping out E.  Purely.)  I’ll admit there are at least five wedding blogs that I stalk on a regular basis.  One of them – Style Me Pretty – is pretty amazing.  And I just discovered the best part.

Many of the photos on the site have little color palettes at the bottom when you hover the cursor over them…then you can click on a particular color and see more photos using that color!  Trust me, it’s awesome.  So then, you can add these photos to your favorites and then create your own inspiration boards.  It’s almost too easy.  So…I made a couple.  Just starting to get my head around some color schemes and ideas that I may like.  Let me know what you think!

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