Photographer, Designer and General Contractor

Following up on last week’s profile of photographer and designer Jamie Sangar, we wanted to learn a little more about her background and most recent project – her own home.

Photography: Jamie Sangar

As a little girl, I never imagined myself being a general contractor.  General contractors carry tape measures and wear hard hats. I was going to wear tutus and make-up. In my wildest imagination I never guessed that general contractors could do both!

When my husband and I decided we wanted to build a modern, energy-efficient home in Indianapolis, Indiana, our options for homebuilders were pretty slim, to say the least. In a market with much more conservative taste overall, and neighborhood homeowner’s associations that have a tight hold on architectural styles, the challenge was real trying to find the perfect land that would allow us to have neighbors, since we aren’t the country-dwelling type, as well as the design freedom to build a modern home. So, before even getting started on the land search, we knew we were up against two major roadblocks.

Thankfully, we were pleasantly surprised to quickly find the perfect land. It’s as if fate was on our side. We knew that our next step was to find the perfect architect. Even though we are both artists (my husband, a Visual Effects Supervisor, and me, a photographer by trade) and can easily visualize and design things on our own, we put the upmost value in hiring an architect, that could not only design a functional home based around the way that we live, but also, build a home that fit the land. We lucked out with lots of tall, mature trees, and a hill that our house would set atop—all things that we wanted to help dictate our home design, rather than knock-down, flatten, and plop a house on top of.

Photography: Jamie Sangar

After meeting with three different architects, we chose to work with Jason Wolfe at Demerly Architects, who was the perfect match for us in terms of style, personality and being willing to work with, what some would consider, a tough budget for a custom home that offers some high-end technology and appliances. He had ideas on where to save money to help offset those luxuries we weren’t willing to give up.

After having our plans priced with two local builders, and feeling frustrated by the price that came back both times, we decided that if we were going to make our dreams a reality, we were going to have to get our hands dirty. And by “dirty,” I mean, take on the responsibility of being the general contractor on our build.

I managed the day to day progress, scheduling the sub-contractors, managing material deliveries, working with our lender, meeting with potential subs, getting quotes, keeping the job site clean, hiring and firing, all while managing a full-time photography business and two children.

Photography: Jamie Sangar

Our exterior walls are SIPs panels (structural insulated panels) built by Thermocore, which means that not only is our home very insulated and energy-efficient, it meant that our walls were built indoors in a factory, unexposed to the weather elements, and then delivered on two semis to the job site. A crane and a framing crew would then set the walls, which drastically cut down on framing labor and time. So within days, our home had a roof and we were ready for the rough-in stage.

Photography: Jamie Sangar

Next was the fun part. That’s when all of the finishes and final design came into play! I knew I wanted to be minimal but warm and inviting, sleek but introduce textures, and add pops of color through furnishings rather than with wall or tile colors. The palette was simple; white walls, polished chrome finishes, black windows and maple hardwoods.

Photography: Jamie Sangar

The most important room to us was the kitchen. I love hosting, cooking and entertaining, so our main “splurge” was our kitchen appliances. An example of finding ways to offset the cost of our commercial-grade kitchen “must haves” was to design and build our own cabinets from Ikea. Ikea’s white glossy lacquer cabinets were the clean and efficient look we were going for!

Photography: Jamie Sangar

I’ve always had a passion for interior and architectural design. It’s just something that’s in my blood and I’ve followed for years through social media outlets, magazines, and in stores. But the most fun and applicable way for me to put that knowledge to use was by building our own home.  With this home, unlike our last home, I wanted a clean and modern neutral palette. Our last home had lots of color incorporated by different colored painted walls. My plan with this house, however, was to incorporate color with furnishings, while keeping the floors and walls neutral. This has allowed for a consistent look and feel throughout the entire house, while each room has a unique flair based on the furnishings.

Photography: Jamie Sangar

I especially have a love of mid-century modern design, so while our home is brand new, those same ideals were used in the design of our home. The idea that large expanses of glass be used to bring the outdoors inside, with a large open floor plan concept, we’ve topped that idea off with lots of mid-century modern furniture and decor. Another goal with the design of the interiors was to be as minimal as possible, while still being comfortable. An example of this is designing our closets so that our dressers fit inside there, rather than in the bedrooms. This allows for more floor space and less surfaces that likely end up finding clutter, and not to mention, dust. We also chose wall-mounted vanities in every bathroom to give the illusion that the rooms are larger than they are, by being able to see the floor underneath. The same is true for our master bedroom with floating nightstands. From an exterior standpoint, we chose a front door that is one that you would’ve seen in the 1950s, and we chose to make it orange, to contrast our two-toned grey siding.

Photography: Jamie Sangar

Now that we’ve gotten comfortable in our new home, I decided to carry on with my design passion, and start Mod Abode. I view Mod Abode as a blend of all of my passions; photography, design and architecture! It also gets me involved in a social media community that shares those same interests. I get to take pretty photos of design elements and credit those who are responsible for designing or carrying such cool things in their stores. I am not quite sure where Mod Abode might lead me, but my hope is that new doors open that let me expand upon the things I’m always eager to learn more about.

Photography: Jamie Sangar

Photography: Jamie Sangar

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Designer Profile: Jamie Sangar

The Monogram team came across a photo designer and photographer Jamie Sangar shared on her Instagram account earlier this year and were so impressed by her design aesthetic, we needed to learn more! Today we’re sharing Jamie’s path to design and her company, Mod Abode. Next week we will feature her gorgeous kitchen.

SRFD: How did you become interested in design?

Jamie: Regardless of whether you believe in the myth of people being either right-brain dominant or left-brain dominant, I think we can all agree upon the fact that some people are just born with certain talents. Everybody has their own unique talent, but it’s up to them to discover it and apply it in a real world scenario. The definition of “talent” is “natural aptitude or skill.” In other words, someone was born that way. I have always loved design for as long as I can remember. My style preferences weren’t learned from my parents, it’s just something that I always had a flair for. It wasn’t until after college, where I graduated with a Marketing degree from Miami University, that I got to professionally enter a creative environment. First starting my career in advertising, where I was an account executive for big brands, acting as the middleman between the artists and the client, I got my first taste of the creative world. The environment was awesome to be a part of. Halfway through my 3.5 year stint at the ad agency, I started a photography business on the side. After seeing quick growth and repeat customers, while also consistently gaining new customers, I realized that there just weren’t enough hours in the day to complete both jobs at 100% effort. So I decided to take a leap of faith and pursue my photography career full-time. That was 11 years ago and I couldn’t be happier to be making my own rules as I go, meeting new clients along the way, and continually surrounding myself with creativity! That interest has always been there from an interior and architectural design standpoint, but I never tried applying it professionally. So, I thought, what the heck, and Mod Abode was born. It is a blend of all of my creative passions; photography, design and architecture. I get to take pretty photos of design elements and credit those who are responsible for designing or carrying such cool things in their stores. I am not quite sure where Mod Abode might lead me, but my hope is that new doors open that let me expand upon the things I’m always eager to learn more about.

SRFD: Tell us about your recent kitchen project.

Jamie: The number one, most important room to me, as we were designing and planning the build of our new home, was the kitchen! I love cooking, hosting and entertaining, so I wanted to put a lot of thought into the layout, the design, and most importantly the appliances and technology! Because we were working with, what some would consider, a tough budget in the custom home realm, we knew that the build process was going to be a relationship of give and take. Aren’t all solid relationships about give and take?! We knew that we weren’t willing to backdown on the commercial grade appliances that we had researched and tested-out, so an example of a “give” was to take on some of the kitchen building labor, and build our own Ikea cabinets. They were always the look we wanted, white and glossy, but sure, we could’ve saved ourselves a bunch of time and effort if we had gone with another custom (expensive) brand. But that was one example of us not backing-down to what we felt was important in our kitchen. We chose a Wolf induction cooktop, a Wolf wall oven, a 48” Subzero refrigerator freezer, and a Monogram Advantium wall oven! While the kitchen is not huge, it is very functional for the way that we live in it. It is also designed with 180 degrees of window views overlooking Geist Reservoir in the distance and woods to the side of our property. Not only does the daylight keep the kitchen bright and airy, but the beautiful views help create a warm environment, for not only us, but our friends that we enjoy hosting.

SRFD: A trend you’re over?

Jamie: I almost hate to point-out a trend that I personally do not gravitate towards, because I know that many people don’t prefer my taste. (So, feel free to punch holes in the way I like to design, ha)! However, if there’s one trend that I feel has been used over and over again for years, it’s gotta be the distressed, eclectic, shabby chic look, with mismatched furniture, mismatched fabrics and patterns, combined with distressed everything!

SRFD: A trend you’re excited about:

Not a trend, but a style I obsess over, is bringing the outdoors inside. In fact, that’s a really old idea of mid-century modern style. If you’re remodeling an existing home, you’re definitely limited by window size if you’re not into cutting larger window openings, and making sure appropriate engineering and headers are in place. However, there are some things you can do to help achieve more of this look without a hefty price tag. Simple things like removing the grilles from your windows will completely open up the room and give the illusion of letting more light in. If you have the opportunity to buy new windows, consider something like casement windows that allow you to open up to the outdoors. Consider brands with small, minimal trim/mullions to keep the look minimal, but the daylight to a maximum.

For new construction, it’s definitely easier to plan for these types of things. Think about incorporating a large window expanse towards a pretty and private part of your property. Higher-end window brands have even engineered moveable window walls, that actually allow you to open up to the outdoors, making you feel at one with nature. So while this is certainly not a new trend, it’s one that I feel should be placed at the top of the “must have” list!

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Hotel Room of the Future Winners Announced

Earlier this year two rule-breaking Louisville-based companies and Monogram partners, 21c Museum Hotels and FirstBuild, joined forces to transform the hotel guest experience through The Hotel Room of the Future Challenge. They asked designers, makers, engineers, artists and more to submit their inventive, functional designs to create the ultimate hotel stay. After receiving dozens of submissions and spending countless hours evaluating each and every idea, the judges (with the help of community voting) have come to a conclusion.

Curious about the winners? Visit the FirstBuild blog to learn about the winners and their exciting concepts.

 

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Designer Profile: Garrison Hullinger

The Chicago Monogram Design Center (MDC) brings designers to Chicago, Illinois, for two-day experiences to learn about Monogram, the design process, our appliances – and even cook with them! We interviewed each designer to learn a little more about their background and design experiences. Today we’re featuring Garrison Hullinger with Garrison Hullinger Interior Design based in Portland, Oregon.

SRFD: How did you become interested in design?

Garrison: When I was a kid, my father worked for my uncle, who was a custom home builder. My brother and I would get dragged along to the job sites and I was always fascinated during lunch time to watch them draw out plans on napkins. That interest in remodeling and design has been a part of my entire adult life. My husband and I have remodeled numerous homes over the years, and many times I would get asked by friends and neighbors to help them with their design projects. I was always reluctant to help others, knowing I didn’t have the formal training. I finally took the dive in 2010 and started my design firm in the attic of my home and hired a young lady who had been laid off from a huge firm during the great recession. She had the technical skills and I had the ideas. I hired three more part-time employees and finally, neighbors and others could hire me for their design work.

SRFD: Tell us about a recent project you really enjoyed.

Garrison: I’m really excited about a remodel project that we’re doing for a couple who bought the home a few years ago. The home was built in 1971 by Bob Rummer, whose homes are influenced by the Joe Eichler homes of Northern California. The home has a central covered atrium and all the rooms connect to the central core of the home, bringing a lot of daylight into the home. The owners have asked us to bring the home into the twenty-first century. We’re expanding the master closet, updating the bathrooms, creating a laundry niche (with doors off the hallway) and a completely new design for the kitchen. Amid all this change, we have made a very conscious decision to make sure none of the original concrete floors throughout the entire home are touched.

SRFD: A trend you’re over?

Garrison: I’d really like to see the accent wall in a room go away, though I don’t mind a feature wall. I’d much rather see someone go the extra mile and add wallpaper, shiplap, or reclaimed wood to a wall than simply paint it an obscure color they found on a paint chip at the hardware store.

SRFD: A trend you’re excited about?

Garrison: Mixing metals. I’m so happy that clients are really understanding my desire to mix metals in a space – if everything is brushed chrome you’re more likely to hate it in a few years, but if you allow me to mix in some black, polished chrome, and even a little copper it will stay fresh much longer and won’t leave a time stamp on the project.

SRFD: What did you learn during the Monogram Designer Training Session in Chicago?

Garrison: I learned so many great things about cooking with induction cooktops while attending the Monogram Designer Training session. I was able to cook on the induction cooktop and see how much faster it heats up than the gas range and how much easier it is to regulate the temperature. It was so intuitive – and that’s saying a lot for someone who doesn’t cook much. Thank you again for the opportunity to spend several days in your gorgeous showroom in Chicago and to learn from the Monogram team.

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Welcome to the Future

From touch screens that deliver step-by-step recipes to countertop herb gardens grown by LED lights, we take a look at how hi-tech kitchen design can create a healthier lifestyle. Tell us your thoughts!

Designer Profile: Jay Britto and David Charette

We had the pleasure of meeting Margaret Charette with design firm Britto Charette in March when she attended the Design Bloggers Conference in Los Angeles, California, and we shared her blog post about the event here. Today we are profiling the founding principals of Miami-based Britto Charette, Jay Britto and David Charette.

Jay Britto, founding principal of Britto Charette, has spent more than a decade creating high-end residential interiors. His knowledge of innovative trends and his unsurpassed contemporary style have earned him an impressive and loyal clientele. Born and raised in Peru, Jay grew up surrounded by rich colors and a vibrant culture that continue to inspire him. His love of all things beautiful translates into everything Jay does.

David Charette, founding principal of Britto Charette and licensed interior designer, has completed compelling design projects around the globe. He earned a BA and MA in architecture from the University of Detroit and he has more than 20 years of experience working with city planners, contractors, regulatory agencies, and architects. David’s impressive portfolio of progressive design initiatives includes luxury residential interiors, corporate campuses, GSA and higher education. His experiences also include urban planning, master planning, zoning, streetscapes and interior design.

SRFD: How did you become interested in design?

David Charette: After numerous trips as a child to the Detroit Institute of Art and after traveling across the United States with my family in the summer, I started to develop a great interest in design. I thought skyscrapers were the coolest things in the world … Still do! Reading late into the night was also very inspiring. My parents would unscrew the fuses in my room so I’d have to put the book down. But the biggest thing was Lego’s! Having a limited amount of them forced me to constantly tear apart one idea to create another.

Jay Britto: My interest in design evolved, really. Music was one of my first passions and essentially opened the door to creativity and the arts for me. At eighteen, when I was struggling with affording college and choosing a major (architecture or interiors), music was always there, pushing me forward. Patterns and rhythms in music just seemed to be echoed in everything around me. That’s when I realized that my calling was actually interiors. I could walk into a space and visualize the textures, colors and patterns that it needed.

SRFD: Tell us about a recent project you really enjoyed.

David Charette: We have been working on a penthouse at the Ritz Carlton. We began working early-on with our client and the architect of record—before construction even began—which made for great communication and saved money for the client. Because it’s on the top floor, we have 15’ ceilings, which are really unprecedented in penthouse design. We were able to take full advantage of the views.

SRFD: A trend you’re over?

A tough question because we never want to offend anyone, but if pressed to answer …

Jay Britto: Mica wall covering.

David Charette: Textured MDF panels.

SRFD: A trend you’re excited about?

Jay Britto: I love the mixing of metals. Designers and clients are no longer conservative about matchy-matchy, all brass or all chrome. It’s a great look.

David Charette: I’m really excited about the advancement of LED light fixtures. They have revolutionized design with their efficiency, color options, dimmer controls and light dispersement. The possibilities are fantastic.

Refrigerators and Freezers Part Ways With Monogram Columns

Kitchen renovations historically have revolved around your wide-open refrigerator and freezer space, which were always one unit. The problem? This doesn’t align with how people live anymore; how they cook, entertain or want their kitchen to be designed. The solution: Monogram Columns.

“Kitchen design today is all about customizing the space to match a homeowner’s lifestyle, and refrigeration and freezer appliances traditionally haven’t offered the flexibility to do this,” said Michael Mahan, Monogram General Manager. “New Monogram Columns make it possible for homeowners to seamlessly split up the refrigerator and freezer and install them hidden in plain sight, in the places that make the most sense for their kitchen design and lifestyle needs while providing a uniform look.”

For the chefs who only keep fresh foods on hand, two refrigerators in the main hub of the kitchen might make more sense, with a freezer tucked away in a pantry. Or, for large families who meal prep for the week, having equally large refrigerator and freezer columns would be the most important. The opportunity to mix, match and relocate knows no bounds.

New Monogram Columns make it possible for homeowners to seamlessly split up the refrigerator and freezer and install them hidden in plain sight, in the places that make the most sense for their kitchen design and lifestyle needs while providing a uniform look.

Sophisticated Design Features
Monogram focuses on using high quality materials, and with that comes better design. For a customized look, Columns offer adjustable panels and flush installation for both the refrigerator and freezer to ensure the design blends in perfectly with cabinetry, guaranteeing a seamless look, every time. Matching panels allow the Columns to virtually disappear.

Columns are also designed to fit the space of a traditional built-in refrigerator, making them perfect for retrofit installations. Retrofit capability allows homeowners to replace a 48” or 42” built-in refrigerator with two columns: No cabinet or electrical modifications necessary.

“Monogram Columns are designed to look as good inside as they do on the outside,” said Mahan. “Ramp-up LED interior lighting throughout the fresh food and freezer compartments make the interior look spacious, inviting and clean.”

Additional luxury features include:

  • Aluminum extruded touch points
  • Full extension, soft close drawers
  • Temperature-controlled drawers that offer added storage flexibility for items like deli, fruits and vegetables
  • Nano-coated, spill-resistant glass shelves with aluminum trim
  • Autofill pitcher that automatically refills cold, filtered water to be ready on demand (premium refrigerator model only)
  • Freezer icemaker and full-extension drawer with removable bin

Monogram has expanded its wholly-owned subsidiary plant in Selmer, TN, specifically for this new product line. Monogram Columns will be available in October 2017 in both refrigerator and freezer models, with the option of stainless steel or custom panels. Learn more at monogram.com.

 

Introducing Monogram Chef Dana Klitzberg

Welcome to Chef Dana Klitzberg, the new East region chef for Monogram. She will be leading cooking demonstrations at a variety of events with the Monogram team across the region. Recently designer engagement leader Susan Cozzi interviewed Chef Dana to learn more about her background and cooking philosophy.

SRFD: Tell us about your background as a chef.

Chef Dana: I never set out to be a chef! After graduating from the University of Virginia, I came straight to NYC to work in public relations, in fashion, lifestyle and entertainment. After years of event planning, working with restaurants and caterers, and food and beverage clients, I got the itch to work in the food sphere. As a literature major, I’d always loved writing, and the food media world was just beginning to evolve: this was before digital media, the Food Network was brand new, and magazines like Gourmet and Food & Wine captured my imagination. I decided to quit my PR career and go to culinary school in NYC, to then join a food media organization armed with a basic culinary knowledge. But when my professors nudged me in the direction of completing my mandatory externship at a restaurant instead of a food media company, I acquiesced. I worked at one of the top Italian restaurants in Manhattan, San Domenico NY, where I was literally the only non-Italian in front or back of house when I started there. It was so completely different from working in an office environment, and I loved the atmosphere, the teamwork, the creativity, and also the intensity. I was a ballerina for most of my life, and the intensity and technique paired with artistry in dance and performance are also at play in the professional kitchen, and this really resonated with me.

So, I was hired out of my externship and stayed at San Domenico for a year before heading over to Rome for further restaurant training. What was supposed to be a four month stint turned into eight years! You could say I fell in love with my Roman life. Professionally, it was often a struggle, because being female and American in the Italian professional kitchen are two strikes against me, going in. But in time I won over my colleagues and executive chefs. And I was eventually hired as executive chef at two different restaurants in Rome (a first in Italy!). I created, along with close friends of mine, the first American brunch in Rome — a “pop-up” before the term was even coined.

Now I cater and provide private chef services, teach cooking classes and lead culinary tours (I was the first person in Rome to do this in English), and I write about food and restaurants for various publications, including Fodor’s guides and Time Out guides. I also consult for restaurants, and occasionally I style food for photo shoots. I have a food blog and I’m also working on a memoir with recipes. I love the many facets of the food industry, and by wearing several different hats, I don’t get bored and I don’t experience burnout. I learn through travel, through reading, through meeting other food people. And there’s always, ALWAYS something new to learn!

SRFD: What is your cooking philosophy, other than “using the freshest ingredients”?

Chef Dana: My background in Italian and Mediterranean cuisine means that “farm-to-table” was never a trend because it’s always the way things have been done. So yes, starting with high quality, seasonal ingredients is pretty much a given with me. I love to cook food with history, and with meaning for people (myself or my clients — or both). Food is nostalgia, and it’s the future. It is culture, it’s art, it’s entertainment. It can have a sense of humor. It is mood-altering, and I like it to be uplifting and comforting at times. On the whole, quite simply, I like to cook what I like to eat. This is not terribly limiting, of course, as I have a varied palate and I like most things. But I particularly like food from sunny places, whether that means equatorial areas like Southeast Asia, Africa, Brazil and the Caribbean, or the Middle East and the Mediterranean, two areas that feel like home to me. I honor regional traditions and follow the ethos of “what grows together goes together.” Everything you can make from scratch, within reason, is better made than purchased. And I also believe that you get out of food what you put in, so I try to cook when I am happy, interested and “in the zone.” It may sound silly, but I believe it truly makes a difference in one’s cooking!

SRFD: What’s always in your fridge at home?

Chef Dana: I have a fridge full of condiments, both homemade and purchased, many of which are a little esoteric and/or international: tamarind paste, guava jelly, fig mostarda, kimchi, ‘nduja sausage from Calabria, squid ink, preserved lemons, kumquat simple syrup. I always have some homemade dressings and sauces (a good pesto, for instance). Then staples like eggs, butter, parmigiano cheese, lemons, lettuce/greens, bottled water, and a crisp white wine. And dark chocolate in some form, always!

SRFD: What makes you happy?

Chef Dana: I’m an October baby, so I love a gorgeous fall day and a stroll, a great museum, musical theater, or the ballet (I danced for 25 years). I am also a water person, in a big way, so beaches and coastlines make me happy, as does being out on the water or in the water … or eating and drinking next to the water. Great food and conversation with friends and family can never be overestimated. I adore the Mediterranean idea of a long, lingering, multi-course dinner with different drinks at every course, then digestivi. Italians have mastered this art. I’ve also always been a huge fan of comedy, so heading to a stand-up club or improv show makes my day a good one.

SRFD: What do you see in the cooking world that you wish you could change?

Chef Dana: I’m an unabashed feminist — not the ’70s bra burning variety, but I was raised surrounded by men and a strong father figure, and my Mom always taught me that women could do anything men could do. So, I’ve always been an advocate of women in traditionally male roles. The kitchen is one of those male-heavy places, and it can be an incredibly sexist and competitive work environment. I’ve enjoyed knocking down barriers and far surpassing expectation, and winning the guys over by honing and then demonstrating my skills in the kitchen, by killing them with kindness and taking things in stride, and sometimes, when needed, by giving them a taste of their own medicine, whether that’s a display of machismo or being able to take some serious ribbing and giving it back to them!

I must also say that I am encouraged by the huge boom in the interest of careers in cooking, but am disappointed at those in this young generation who expect to become “celebrity chefs” (whatever THAT means!) or restaurant executive chefs and owners after working for 18 months or two years out of culinary school. The food industry is certainly intense and physically demanding, so youthfulness helps in that sense. But you also need experience more than anything else. Ask any great chef, like an Eric Ripert, and they will tell you: you need to put in the time. Peel potatoes and butcher fish for a couple of years, and keep your eyes and ears open around you. Don’t expect that the world should be yours so soon. Everybody needs to do the grunt work in the beginning.

SRFD: What have you learned from working with Monogram appliances?

Chef Dana: I’ve learned that technology and innovation can be applied across various categories to improve very different items. For instance, Monogram applies technology gleaned from its aeronautics division: the ball bearings used on airplanes are built to resist high heat, so Monogram uses them for its rolling oven racks so the racks can remain inside when the oven is in self-cleaning mode. GE invented the halogen bulb, and Monogram implements this technology as part of its speed cooking feature in the Advantium oven. These are just a couple of examples of the thoughtfulness that goes into the creation of Monogram products. I’ve also become much more aware about the particulars of any equipment on which I work.  As a chef I’m always looking to improve, innovate, refine — and understanding one’s equipment is essential to this growth.

SRFD: What can home cooks learn from you?

Chef Dana: I have lots of experience cooking in high-pressure situations in restaurant kitchens, and many of those kitchens were filled with assistant chefs and dishwashers and servers who did not speak my mother tongue. I also have vast experience catering in the strangest of locations, under very odd circumstances. But now, I most frequently cater and cook as a private chef in clients’ homes, and so I’m well aware of the necessity of adapting my cooking and my recipes to the home cook, to the realistic kitchen, not just the restaurant kitchen. Home cooks can learn from my adaptability and flexibility, which will make their work in the kitchen feel a lot less like work. Also, many home cooks don’t realize that half the battle of cooking for family every night, for home entertaining, and for keeping a pantry and fridge that will keep the whole family happy and healthy, is planning. PLANNING. I’ve cooked for 300 people in a kitchen smaller than most Americans’ laundry rooms — it just required planning and organization. Once this is taken care of, the cooking part is just fun!

Designer Profile: Alberto Villalobos

We had a great time at the Monogram Designer Summit in February with all of the designers and participants. As a follow-up, we interviewed some of the designers to learn a little more about their background and design experiences. Today we’re featuring Alberto Villalobos with Villalobos Desio based in New York City.

SRFD: How did you become interested in design?

Alberto: I became interested in interior design from an early age. From building tree houses to playing with Legos, I always had an interest in creating spaces and playing with proportions that led me to interior design down the road.

SRFD: Tell us about a recent project you really enjoyed.

Alberto: My business partner Mercedes and I enjoyed working on our latest project in London. It was a great experience to work there with new contractors and getting out of our comfort zone in the States, by meeting new vendors. The client was really easy to work with which added to the experience, plus shopping in Europe is always fun.

SRFD: A trend you’re over?

Alberto: I am over finishes that are not true to nature. My business partner and I prefer natural materials that are real, we appreciate craftsmanship and details. For example, when we use ceramic, we like ceramic that is true in nature, not one that reproduces another element such as wood.

SRFD: A trend you’re excited about?

Alberto: We are excited about the rediscovery of terra-cotta. Again, it is a natural material that is noble and relates both to our Latin and European backgrounds.

SRFD: What did you learn during the Monogram Designer Summit in Louisville?

Alberto: My favorite take-away from the summit is that knowledge is not understanding, a very interesting principle. It has helped me to see things differently and makes you realize to always question yourself. What a great tool for the design practice.