2011 Design Masters

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Matthew Ponseti
landscape design

Who are the principals of your firm/business? Matthew Ponseti
 
What is the scope of your profession? We offer a complete landscape service, which includes design, installation, lighting, irrigation, drainage and hardscapes. We also do weekly maintenance so that your gardens look their best all year long.

What sets you apart? I have a one-on-one relationship with the customers. The only phone number is my personal cell phone number, so when someone calls, they reach me and not a third party. If there are any questions or concerns, I am readily available.
 
Why is what you do important to New Orleans? After Katrina, people felt a need to make a statement that they are here to stay. A person has only one chance to make a good impression, and many New Orleanians did this with a more beautiful landscape. They wanted to tell their neighbors, “I am investing in this city, this neighborhood and my home.”
 
How does New Orleans affect your profession? What are the benefits and challenges? The rebuilding process is continuing, and people are continuing to invest in New Orleans, which is encouraging. While New Orleans is not as affluent as other cities, it is the only place I wish to live and raise my family. Where else can you find better food, beautiful architecture and people who will strike up a conversation in the grocery checkout line?
 
What else would you be doing if you weren’t doing this? I love being outside and working with my hands. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing a project from start to finish in just a few days. If I were to do something different, it would have to be something that would allow me to express myself in some creative manner. I enjoyed my college classes in photography and fine arts. I continue to take classes at the New Orleans Academy of Fine Arts. I would love to make a living as a painter, but my family is in the habit of eating!



Phyllis Jordan
green design

Who are the principals of your firm/business? Phyllis Jordan, executive director, and Daniel Weiner, president of the board

What is the scope of your profession? The Green Project’s mission is to develop a culture of creative reuse by building a marketplace for reclaimed materials and cultivating a respect for their value. We also like to say, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without!”

What sets you apart? As the city’s first and oldest rebuilding center dedicated to landfill diversion, we were greening NOLA before “green” was a verb! Our founder, Linda Stone, began The Mid-City Green Project almost 18 years ago with one goal – to keep paint from going down our drains and into our bayous, rivers, lake and estuaries. Her efforts created the Gulf South’s only paint-recycling facility. Our paint program diverts over 40,000 gallons of paint away from our fragile marine ecosystem annually. The Green Project also keeps over 4 million pounds of usable materials from the waste stream each year.

Why is what you do important to New Orleans? Recycling and repurposing have always been important, but they took on a renewed importance post-Katrina when we saw our landfills being filled to the capacity they were not supposed to reach until 2045. We saw huge numbers of people who were shopping with us because it was all they could afford while they were rebuilding their homes and lives. We were so moved by our customers’ creativity, projects and design that we created SALVATIONS, a furniture-design competition utilizing only recycled, reclaimed or repurposed materials.

How does New Orleans affect your profession? What are the benefits and challenges? The benefits far outweigh the challenges. New Orleans has a rich history that lends itself to gorgeous architectural remnants and unique salvaged old growth like cypress and longleaf yellow pine – materials you simply can’t find anywhere else at our prices. The challenges usually lend themselves to issues surrounding the general laid-back approach we encounter when attempting to get things done.

What else would you be doing if you weren’t doing this? Saving the wetlands. Oh, wait, we already do that. Teaching people about sustainability through environmental education. Nope, we do that, too. I guess we’re doing just what we were meant to do!

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