Masters of Architecture
Kim and Ben Allen
Studio BKA Architects
Tell us about your background. Kim: LSU Architecture graduate, I have collaborated with international designers, worked with acclaimed brands and managed the architecture of large real estate developments in NYC. Later, I transitioned into boutique architecture firms doing high-end residential and hospitality design before moving home in 2014. Ben: UT-Austin Architecture graduate with experience practicing in Dallas and NYC on a wide range of project types for a wide range of clients. My favorite projects had been urban historic renovations and adaptive reuse with a sustainable priority. That is my focus now, along with using the latest design technology to enhance our projects. Who are the principals of your firm/business? Ben Allen & Kim Payne Allen. How does New Orleans affect your profession? What are the benefits/challenges? New Orleans offers a rich urban framework to operate in, but remains varied enough to keep things interesting. It kind of feels like the wild west of urbanism, with so many voices and ideas converging here, which is great in terms of design culture. Who in your field is your greatest inspiration and why? It changes daily, but today we find Francis Kéré’s work to be inspiring in its simplicity and social message.
Master of Textiles
Studio Amanda Talley
Tell us about your background. After receiving a BA in studio arts at Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Virginia I completed an MFA at Savannah College of Art and Design. Upon graduation, I worked as an assistant at Gerrie Bremermann Designs while building my inventory and experience as an abstract painter. In 2008, I opened my eponymous studio on Magazine Street and moved to my permanent location in the Garden District two years later. Who are the principals of your firm/business? Studio Amanda Talley, LLC is a sole proprietorship, and I am the proprietor. How does New Orleans affect your profession? What are the benefits and challenges? New Orleans is a creative city, full of art and inspiration. The benefits include a culture-savvy community and a font of everyday experiences that provide stimulation, and a rich backdrop. As far as challenges go…well, the weather is the biggest challenge for everyone, isn’t it? Who in your field is your greatest inspiration and why? Lee Krasaer was an inspiration to me, more for her ideas than for her actual work. I like the idea of adding beauty to the field of abstract expressionism, and ideally that is what I’m doing.
Master of Furniture Design
Tell us about your background. I graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi School of Mass Communications and Journalism and have worked in communications, interior design and project management. I moved to New Orleans after college and found this great apartment Uptown and quickly realized that my dorm room furniture looked awful in the space. So, I decided to try building my own furniture. Soon after friends and family starting calling and in 2013 I left my job and founded Doorman Designs. I could see the need for handcrafted original furniture that was made right here at home from local materials utilizing talented local artisans and craftsmen. Who are the principals of your firm/business? I’m the owner and work with a team of five talented artists and craftsmen. How does New Orleans affect your profession? What are the benefits and challenges? New Orleans’ historically colorful vibe inspires my team and me to create unique furniture that is fresh and new while still embodying the look and feel like it came from another era. The most challenging part is building furniture in such humid and rainy climate. Who in your field is your greatest inspiration and why? BDDW, a handmade furniture company in Philadelphia designs some amazing furniture that for me is awe inspiring.
Masters of Landscaping
Joe Evans and Barney Lighter
Evans + Lighter Landscape Architecture
Tell us about your background. Evans + Lighter Landscape Architecture formed in New Orleans in 2014 with the goal of producing significant, thought-provoking, elegant environments. Our designs are guided by advanced principles of sustainability and regenerative design while remaining true to historical context and community. We aim to lift the human spirit and celebrate our ties with the earth and the living systems which thrive upon it. We specialize in integrated stormwater management and ecological systems design. Who are the principals of your firm/business? Barney Lighter and Joseph O. Evans III. How does New Orleans affect your profession? What are the benefits and challenges? New Orleans is an amazing city in which to both live and work. It has tremendous cultural and ecological wealth. There is, however, an abundance of critical challenges pertaining to the sustainability and resilience of the region; some of which, like stormwater flooding and coastal erosion, place a sense of critical urgency to our work. Who in your field is your greatest inspiration and why? We get most of our inspiration from the communities, non-profits, and professionals we work with. Many are producing some of the most important, ambitious and wondrous works of our time.
Masters of Interior Design
Katie Logan Leblanc and Jensen Killen
Logan Killen Interiors
Tell us about your background. We are long time friends who met in Baton Rouge, where we grew up, and both graduated from LSU in Interior Design before we followed our hearts to New Orleans. After working in various fields of architecture and production design for 10 years or so, we started Logan Killen Interiors in 2012. Sunday Shop followed, opening its doors in December 2016. Who are the principals of your firm/business? Katie Logan LeBlanc and Jensen Killen. How does New Orleans affect your profession? What are the benefits and challenges? New Orleans is a constant source of inspiration — from the beautiful architecture to the eccentric people; it’s easy to get creative here. The undercurrent of irreverence allows us to push the envelope when we want to, and the slow, laid back lifestyle works well with our easy going aesthetic. However, shotgun furniture layouts and extremely high ceilings are both a blessing and curse. Who in your field is your greatest inspiration and why? Hardest question… the list is endless! Ilse Crawford for her inspiring design philosophy which reminds us how to incorporate beauty into the everyday. Studio Ashby for always starting with the art. Nickey Kehoe for keeping it real. Kelly Wearstler for being a major boss lady.
Master of Green Design
Tell us about your background. Shaped by a semi-nomadic upbringing, my first act of independence at age 17 was sending my roots deep into the soils of New Orleans. This has been my home and community ever since. My professional life and training bridge two great loves- architecture and science. I delight in exploring how the built and natural worlds can inform and enhance one another, and connecting the dots. Who are the principals of your firm/business? We’re change makers. Everyone’s a star. How does New Orleans affect your profession? What are the benefits and challenges? New Orleans is at the leading edge of climate adaptation, where the benefits and opportunities derive from the challenges. This has inspired us to broaden our scope from green building to urban water infrastructure and working with coastal communities to design their future, which we now do internationally. Who in your field is your greatest inspiration and why? Those who look beyond what is to what can and should be, and then act on it. To name a few locally: Robert Tannen, engineer, planner, artist, activist; Oliver Houck, head of Tulane’s Environmental Law School; David Waggonner and the team at Waggonner & Ball who developed the GNO Urban Water Plan; Robert Miller, deputy director and CFO of SWBNO; and author John Barry.
Master of Kitchen Design
Tell us about your background. Although Maria Barcelona Interiors was officially founded in 2000, designer Paul Dodson and I worked together in the high-end home furnishings market for several years prior to that, training with some of the top designers in the field. We typically approach each project from different perspectives; I like to view projects with a more artistic eye, while Paul’s approach is more detailed and technical. This combination of complementary skill sets offers our clients the best of all worlds. Who are the principals of your design firm? Maria Barcelona, Paul Dodson. How does New Orleans affect your profession? New Orleans’ rich architectural design history is always an inspiration. What we find most challenging, however, is the lack of local resources for designers. Who in your field is your greatest inspiration and why? Right now, we are very much inspired by the work of Aviva Stanoff. She finds the beauty and elegance in the most rough-hewn natural materials and is able to transform them into the most luxurious textiles and home accents.
Master of Home Accents
Whitney J Décor
Tell us about your background. Before starting my interior design and furnishings (home accessories, pillows and art) business, I thought I would be a physical therapist, but science and math courses in college made me realize that I would only be happy in a creative field. As a little girl, I loved décor and creative space planning, so interior design was a natural next step. Who are the principals of your firm/business? I’m the principal designer while my assistant helps manage design projects and stay on top of sales orders for my online pillow and home accessories shop. How does New Orleans affect your profession? What are the benefits and challenges? Finding unique homes and architecture around the city is one of my favorite things to do and inspires a lot of my design projects. The city could use larger showrooms, though. I’d like a bigger variety of furnishings to shop from. Who in your field is your greatest inspiration and why? One designer that I’m most inspired by is Kelly Wearstler. She has a glamorous, yet wild design style that breaks barriers with each new design project, through her use of color, bold wallpapers and high gloss surfaces.
Master of Drapery
Renee Lejeune Laborde
Tell us about your background. I am born and raised in New Orleans and studied Interior Design at LSU. My mother sewed and taught me how to at an early age. I started making curtains for myself when I was in my early 20s. Family and friends all wanted me to make curtains for them and it snowballed into a full-blown business. I basically taught myself how to make curtains by looking at some that were already done. Who are the principles of your firm/business? Just me. I am a one woman show. I do all the design work and sewing myself. I am a total workhorse and I am extremely driven, plus I love a challenge. How Does New Orleans affect your profession? What are the benefits and challenges? New Orleanians are very proud of their homes.They want beautiful interiors and that includes beautiful curtains New Orleans homes have beautiful architecture with high ceilings and tall windows, custom-made draperies are a must. The benefit is that I always have work. The only challenge I face is that I wish there were more hours in the day. Who in your field is your greatest inspiration and why? Ann Dupuy, she before anyone decorated, using a neutral palette and mixed modern elements and furniture with antiques. She always had the most beautiful curtains in the homes she designed.