A Feast for the Eyes
So many things inspire me. If I try to remember a couple of my earliest design inspirations it would have to be architecture and food.
Growing up, I don’t think that buildings really moved me. My father worked in the Arco Towers in downtown LA. These were two, dark, twin monoliths; nothing very interesting about them. Inside, the designs were stark, simple, and modern with the art and furniture designed by Herbert Bayer. Everything was white and grey with spots of orange. Not my taste, then. It wasn’t until I saw pictures of Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao Spain that I began to take notice of structure and how it inspires. This building took my breath away. The way the shapes were so fluid, causing the building to almost move. My eyes never stopped on a single point. I was so happy to gaze at its magic and majesty. I had no idea that a building could do this. There began my life-long admiration for Gehry and all his work.
Neither did I start out appreciating food. It was a necessary part of my day. My parents were, however good cooks and great entertainers and so somewhere in those years I began to understand the role that food played apart in a having a good time. I found my favorite dishes and loved it when my mother repeated these on special occasions. I enjoyed going out to restaurants as my tastes expanded. When I was on my own and bought my first live theater subscription, I thought nice restaurants were a fitting start to impress a date. However, these restaurants experiences ended up inspiring me a lot more than my dates. My favorite of those early years was Citrus and its chef Michel Richard. The presentation of food was magic and beautiful to behold, definitely Instagram-worthy if the mobile phone had been invented back then. I remember one dish in particular where a filet of swordfish undulated over a thin row of mashed potatoes, dividing two brightly colored “seas” of sauces. Again, I had no idea that this element could be created to do this. Thus began my life-long thrill of fine dining, cooking, entertaining and the high regard for chefs as artists.
Today, both these areas of creativity influence how I think, design and entertain. They are far more to me than a structure to work in or a meal to gain energy from but experiences to savor, appreciate and be inspired by. When planning an event, I know that the environment must engage and the food presentation must thrill. I’m grateful that I took notice of these things early on in my career and used them to shape the way I design today.