Design Masters

A year and a half after the onset of a world-changing pandemic that suddenly had people at home most hours of the day, locals have had a chance to think about the meaning of home. As we’ve re-evaluated the role of our homes in our lives, we’ve also had the opportunity to consider the way they look and function — and that is precisely the expert domain of our Design Masters. Whether creating architectural drawings, choosing colors, furnishings and finishing details or designing custom carpentry, each one of them helps us give our homes the attention they deserve. At a time when we could all use a distraction, we decided to have a little fun getting to know our honorees. We hope you enjoy learning about them, too.

Photography by Sara Essex Bradley

 

Katherinediamond

Master of Kitchen Design

Katherine Diamond

Katherine Diamond Designs

I love to create and recreate spaces that will express the artistic vision and meet every need of my clients, who become my muse. Kitchens are my passion.

What did you want to be when you were 7? Julie, the cruise director on “The Love Boat.” What would your 7-year-old self think about what you are doing now? My 7-year-old self would think my career is fabulous. What is your guilty design pleasure? Passementerie. Which designer living or dead would you have dinner with and why? Howard Slatkin because the spaces he creates evoke luxurious curiosity through a sensuous amalgam of colors, texture, pattern, materials and light. His work is a kaleidoscope of everything that delights me. Favorite New Orleans design landmark? I just loved the Rivergate. It was so sculptural and expressed the presence, strength and movement of the Mississippi River which is just several yards away from the droves of people completely ignoring its existence as they enjoy all the French Quarter has to offer. I think there is another neoclassical box there now. Favorite activity for creative inspiration? Listening to inverted Bach always stimulates my mind. And I enjoy discussing trends and ideas with my creative friends in New Orleans, London, Italy, France and Egypt. I also have a creative friend in Baton Rouge I speak to daily [who] keeps me inspired. I love that fundamental elements of design are universal and instantly creates a commonality with my friends of different cultures. What is always in your fridge? Nail polish and coffee. Favorite New Orleans band? Dash Rip Rock. This music transports me back to college which was absolutely magical. What is your favorite beverage? Or favorite New Orleans cocktail? The imperial martini ­— absolutely divine. I love to sip one on the terrace of The Chloe which is also divine. Favorite snowball flavor? Hansen’s jalapeño cantaloupe Perfect road trip? Drive to the Keys. Favorite movie? “The Shape of Water.” What is something you’ve learned from living in New Orleans? I don’t want to talk about that … But I can tell you this, I learned how to pronounce Tchoupitoulas and Burgundy. What makes you laugh? I make myself laugh. Something you learned to do during the pandemic? Or something you’d like to learn to do? I am learning to play the cello and the recorder. I aspire to play Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 in G major.

 

Sean Matyas

Master of Landscape Design

Sean Matyas

Matyas Landscape, LLC

I connect with clients to create, maintain, and illuminate beautiful landscapes throughout southeast Louisiana and beyond.

What did you want to be when you were 7? I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur. What would your 7-year-old self think about what you are doing now? I definitely think my 7-year-old self would be proud of where I am at today and ecstatic to be working outdoors for a living. What is your guilty design pleasure? Incorporating Japanese maples in my design plan when I can in the right settings. Which designer living or dead would you have dinner with and why? Fernando Wong; I have personally worked with him on a project and I appreciate his vision. I admire his work ethic and drive. Favorite New Orleans design landmark? Superdome. Favorite activity for creative inspiration? I like to sightsee in my own city and travel to different places to collect ideas and inspirations for our custom projects. What is always in your fridge? Water and protein drinks. Favorite New Orleans band? Soul Rebels. What is your favorite beverage? Or favorite New Orleans cocktail? Canebrake beer. Favorite snowball flavor? Hansen’s nectar snowball. Perfect road trip? West coast road trip, which my family and I just took this June. The most beautiful and scenic views I have ever driven though. Favorite movie? “Old School.” What is something you’ve learned from living in New Orleans? That New Orleanians are generally warm people and the soul of this city cannot be duplicated anywhere else in the world. What makes you laugh? My wife and children, great comedy movies and impersonations. Something you learned to do during the pandemic? Or something you’d like to learn to do? I learned to never take my family’s health for granted during the pandemic. Something I’d like to learn; to play the guitar.

 

Www.saraessexbradley.com

Master of Textiles

Alexis Walter

I’m an abstract artist and textile designer inspired by my everyday life and surroundings in New Orleans.

What did you want to be when you were 7? An interior designer, artist or archaeologist. What would your 7-year-old self think about what you are doing now? She would be surprised and very excited about how things have turned out. What is your guilty design pleasure? A hand-painted floor is my ultimate design indulgence. Ours were painted by ELJ Fine Finishes. Which designer living or dead would you have dinner with and why? Gerrie Bremermann, who sadly recently passed away, because she was always so supportive of my work. Favorite New Orleans design landmark? Hermann-Grima gardens. Favorite activity for creative inspiration? Travel, whether it’s far away or just down the street to a new destination. What is always in your fridge? Lemons, champagne and French mustards. Favorite New Orleans band? I have the best memories listening to Louis Prima with my grandparents, so he’ll always be number one for me. What is your favorite beverage? Or favorite New Orleans cocktail? That’s a toss-up, but during the summer it’s definitely a Pimm’s Cup. My favorite is at the Napoleon House. Favorite snowball flavor? Depends on where we’re going. Imperial Woodpecker – grapefruit-basil. Plum Street – chocolate with condensed milk. Hansen’s – spearmint. Sal’s – cherry. Perfect road trip? I would love to do a big trek around the U.S. and my first stop would be Los Poblanos in New Mexico. Favorite movie? Any Nancy Meyers movie. What is something you’ve learned from living in New Orleans? I learned how much I love the architecture, age, cuisine and music of New Orleans when I temporarily left and immediately couldn’t wait to come back. I’ve been back for a while and still can’t imagine living anywhere else. What makes you laugh? A whole lot of things, but on a daily basis the personalities of my cute little cocker spaniels. Something you learned to do during the pandemic? Or something you’d like to learn to do? During the pandemic, I realized how important it is to make art accessible to everyone, so I started painting a special size I don’t usually paint for sale at half price and we found a beautiful wooden frame people could use to frame the painting themselves. It was and still is very touching to see my paintings.

 

Paul Gruer

Master of Lighting

Paul Grüer

Paul Grüer Design Studio

In my Bywater studio I design and build onE-of-A-kind New Orleans inspired mixed media Lamps, sconces and chandeliers.

What did you want to be when you were 7? An astronaut. What would your 7-year-old self think about what you are doing now? My 7-year-old self would be surprised. What is your guilty design pleasure? Guilty design pleasure is watching design and art competitions on Netflix. Which designer living or dead would you have dinner with and why? Without question I would want to have dinner with Tony Duquette. From his set designs, jewelry designs and interior design he was a truly unique creative force. Favorite New Orleans design landmark? My favorite New Orleans design landmark is the ‘Wedding Cake’ house on St. Charles Avenue. Favorite activity for creative inspiration? Walking down Royal Street in the French Quarter and looking into the antique shop windows. What is always in your fridge? Dijon mustard … always. Favorite New Orleans band? Preservation Hall Jazz Band. What is your favorite beverage? Or favorite New Orleans cocktail? A Pimm’s Cup at the Napoleon House on a hot summer’s day. Close second is an ice-cold martini at Hermes. Favorite snowball flavor? Hands down, chocolate topped with condensed milk. Perfect road trip? Anything headed towards New York City. Favorite movie? “The Philadelphia Story.” What is something you learned from living in New Orleans? Patience. What makes you laugh? Dry Humor. Something you learned to do during the pandemic? Or something you’d like to learn to do? Fun answer … day drinking. True answer … the importance of friends.

 

Louis Aubert

Master of Color

Louis Aubert

Louis Aubert Interior Design

I assist clients with the selection and placement of both interior and exterior color and finish materials.

What did you want to be when you were 7? I wanted to be 8 so that I’d be closer in age to my cool, older cousins. What would your 7-year-old self think about what you are doing now? My 7-year-old self would be very pleased as I have always loved houses and have managed to create a job in which I love what I do. What is your guilty design pleasure? My guilty design pleasure is yelling at HGTV. Frequently books are placed on shelves with their spines to the wall rendering them useless. How could I not yell at them? Which designer living or dead would you have dinner with and why? Only one? Impossible; may I invite a group over for dinner or a crawfish boil? If forced to choose only one, I would invite Albert Hadley. Favorite New Orleans de­sign landmark? That’s an easy question, Gallier Hall of course; it is so very grand and speaks of New Orleans. I’ve admired it since childhood; in fact, it was pictured in my high school 9th grade Latin textbook. Favorite activity for creative inspiration? Reading books about design, architecture and gardens. Still photos allow you to focus and absorb details; it’s the next best thing to travel. What is always in your fridge? Water and pickles. Favorite New Orleans band? Preservation Hall Jazz Band. What is your favorite beverage? Or favorite New Orleans cocktail? Iced tea with lots of lemon. Favorite snowball flavor? Coconut. Perfect road trip? A leisurely drive through The Hamptons after Labor Day when it’s nearly deserted. Favorite movie? If only one? “Moonstruck.” What is something you’ve learned from living in New Orleans? Always stand in the shade whenever possible and make time to truly appreciate the beauty that is New Orleans … architecture, landscape, music, food and the spirit of this special place. What makes you laugh? I laugh at a lot of things including myself. I follow the old Italian proverb “In life you can laugh or you can cry.” I choose to laugh. Something you learned to do during the pandemic? Or something you’d like to learn to do? I have mastered the TV remote and the DVD player.

 

Daniel Bell Correct 9046

Master of Carpentry

Daniel Bell

Daniel Bell, LLC

My company fabricates and installs custom architectural millwork and casework.

What did you want to be when you were 7? Definitely never imagined I would be doing this, I think I wanted to be a lawyer. What would your 7-year-old self think about what you are doing now? How did that happen? What is your guilty design pleasure? Use whatever I’ve got to just make it work and get it done. Which designer living or dead would you have dinner with and why? My wife … she’s the best and we don’t get out enough. Favorite New Orleans design landmark? City Park. Favorite activity for creative inspiration? I love to look at details on homes as I’m driving around town. What is always in your fridge? Milk and eggs. Favorite New Orleans band? Any brass band. What is your favorite beverage? Or favorite New Orleans cocktail? Old Fashioned. Favorite snowball flavor? Dreamsicle. Perfect road trip? Beach. Favorite movie? “Roadhouse.” What is something you’ve learned from living in New Orleans? It’s so important to have fun and enjoy life. What makes you laugh? My kids. Something you learned to do during the pandemic? Or something you’d like to learn to do? I try not to put this kind of pressure on myself, I figure that I’m doing enough already, but I would love to learn another language like Portuguese or Italian.

 

Gabriel Virdure

Master of Architecture

Gabriel Virdure

Trapolin-Peer Architects

I create an array of functional, aesthetically pleasing spaces through a collaborative process for new construction and adaptive reuse projects.

What did you want to be when you were 7? Something design focused. I spent a lot of time building Lego houses, and sketching layouts for neighborhoods with winding roads and parks. What would your 7-year-old self think about what you are doing now? I think she would be surprised by the architect’s opportunity to impact day-to-day life for individuals and the overall community. What is your guilty design pleasure? I spend time looking at old city maps and comparing them to how they’ve evolved over time. I love the history of an evolving city. Which designer living or dead would you have dinner with and why? Chanel. I would love to know her source of courage and endurance to redefine an industry and simultaneously challenge social expectations and norms. Favorite New Orleans design landmark? Longue Vue House and Gardens. Favorite activity for creative inspiration? Traveling, no matter if the destination is familiar or new. There is always something new to discover or reflect on, wherever I wander. What is always in your fridge? Creole mustard. Favorite New Orleans band? The Meters. What is your favorite beverage? Or favorite New Orleans cocktail? French 75. Favorite snowball flavor? Pina colada. Perfect road trip? Is there such a thing as a perfect road trip? I haven’t taken one yet but would love to explore the Hill Country area outside of Austin. Favorite movie? “The Money Pit.” What is something you’ve learned from living in New Orleans? I’ve learned that we should not take things for granted and to be resilient on many levels. What makes you laugh? Dry wit. Something you learned to do during the pandemic? Or something you’d like to learn to do? Composting.

 

Luz

Master of Window Treatments

Luz Madrid and Camilo Orozco

Mother/Son, Luz Custom Curtains and Upholstery
She is the seamstress. He contributes to design process and business development.

Sewing since 1958.

What did you want to be when you were 7? Luz: Doctor MD or a swimmer. What would your 7-year-old self think about what you are doing now? Luz: My 7-year-old self thinks that I am swimming on fabrics every day and night. Camilo: Me too. What is your guilty design pleasure? Luz/Camilo: Actually, we do not have any guilty design pleasure … you should not ever regret the privilege of a pleasure. Which designer living or dead would you have dinner with and why? Luz/Camilo: We would love to have dinner at the same time with Coco Chanel and Antony Gaudí; too much to ask? Yes, with both of them at the same time and we will ask them about their dreams, inspirations, [favorite] wine, etc. Favorite New Orleans design landmark? Luz/Camilo: No doubt about it, favorite landmark in New Orleans is the French Quarter and its architecture. The Spanish courtyards with fountains in those houses are so pretty. Favorite activity for creative inspiration? Luz/Camilo: Our favorite activity for inspiration is our own work when a client expresses her or his happiness with the final result of our hands. Furthermore, we get really inspired when we listen to music or travel to Europe, especially to Italy or Spain. What is always in your fridge? Luz/Camilo: You will always find no-lactose milk, bread and cheese. We do not cook at all. Favorite New Orleans band? Luz/Camilo: Unfortunately we do not have a favorite New Orleans band. We are more into classical music like Zarzuela, opera, “Carmina Burana” by Carl Orff and “The Seasons” by Joseph Haydn What is your favorite beverage? Or favorite New Orleans cocktail? Luz: My nightly red wine. Camilo: My morning Colombian coffee. Perfect road trip? Luz/Camilo: Our perfect road trips are in the Colombian Andes. Favorite movie? Luz/Camilo: “Las Cosas de Querer “ directed by Jaime Chávarri, “Dreams” by Akira Kurosawa and “Queen of The Desert” by Werner Herzog. What is something you’ve learned from living in New Orleans? Luz/Camilo: We have learned to enjoy “hurrications” and eat spicy food. What makes you laugh? Luz/Camilo: Tola y Maruja, El Águila Descalza and Les Luthiers. Something you learned to do during the pandemic? Or something you’d like to learn to do? Luz/Camilo: We learned [our aging speeds up] if we stay still. So, we must keep busy working at our shop; we only closed for a week at the pandemic beginning.

 

Christa Schwartz

Master of Interior Design

Christa Schwartz

Studio ID

Design warm, thoughtful, contemporary interiors.

What did you want to be when you were 7? A ballet dancer. What would your 7-year-old self think about what you are doing now? You sure stare at a computer screen a lot. What is your guilty design pleasure? Working directly with artists. Which designer living or dead would you have dinner with and why? Too many to list, but … Living — Kelly Wearstler. Dead ­— Luis Barragan. Mostly their perspectives on materials, scale and modern design. Favorite New Orleans design landmark? Camp Abundance. Favorite activity for creative inspiration? Travel. What is always in your fridge? Cool Brew — mocha flavor ­— cashew milk and extra crunchy grapes. Favorite New Orleans band? Galactic. What is your favorite beverage?  Or favorite New Orleans cocktail? Green Juice margarita from Otra Vez. Favorite snowball flavor? Ice Cream from Imperial Woodpecker. Perfect road trip? Amalfi Coast. Favorite movie? Wish I had more time to watch movies. What is something you’ve learned from living in New Orleans? Patience is a virtue. What makes you laugh? My children. Something you learned to do during the pandemic? Or something you’d like to learn to do? Home school.

 

Kendall And Patrick 9570

Masters of Property Development

Kendall Winingder, Patrick Schindler

Felicity Property Co.

Patrick and I create. We create homes, apartments, buildings, retail space, restaurants … We only do projects that inspire us.

What did you want to be when you were 7? Kendall: Vet, zookeeper, animal trainer. Patrick: Trash truck man (the guys that ride on the back). What would your 7-year-old self think about what you are doing now? Kendall: Definitely still have the animal side of the career with the farm so I think little Kendall would be pumped. Patrick: I think 7-year-old me would think I was doing interesting work. What is your guilty design pleasure? Kendall: Planters. I can never have enough plants. I love the life they bring to a project, but maintenance is always an issue. Patrick: Hardware. It is one of the first physical experiences you interact with at a building and I think it speaks to the attention of detail and quality. Which designer living or dead would you have dinner with and why? Kendall: Patina Farms. Patrick: Dieter Rams is a hero of mine for sure. I love his hard-won simplicity and timeless design. Favorite New Orleans design landmark? Kendall: The Clarinet, The Windsor Court, Rivershack Tavern. Patrick: Henry Howard’s work (both his commercial and residential designs). Lafayette Hotel. Favorite activity for creative inspiration? Kendall: Travel. Patrick: Running. What is always in your fridge? Kendall: Fresh eggs from the farm and honey. Patrick: Eggs, yogurt, peanut butter. Favorite New Orleans band? Kendall: Better than Ezra. Patrick: Too tough to narrow to just one — Big Tymers, Harry Connick Jr., Lil Wayne, Boyfriend. What is your favorite beverage? Or favorite New Orleans cocktail? Kendall: Anything that Mickey makes for me at The Bower. Patrick: New Orleans Style cold brew. Favorite snowball flavor? Kendall: Easy Hansen’s half coffee half nectar cream. I have had so many near misses with accidents on Tchoup when Hansen’s is open and there is no line. Patrick: Nectar. Perfect road trip? Kendall: We have done some amazing RV trips, but you can’t beat Colorado. Favorite movie? Kendall: “The Lion King,” “Dirty Dancing,” “Ghost.” Patrick and Kendall: “Step Brothers.” What is something you’ve learned from living in New Orleans? Kendall: Join the party, wear the wig, enrich the community and the community will enrich you, sit loose, buy your neighbor’s property, be unique, love your neighbor, there is always a reason to celebrate, the more the merrier, the music lives inside, dance … always dance. Find the live music, start em young, art is so important. Patrick: Community. Living in the moment. Room to be yourself. What makes you laugh? Kendall: “Friends.” [Both] the TV show and my people. Patrick: Irony. Something you learned to do during the pandemic? Or something you’d like to learn to do? Kendall: Fishing, gardening, I love chickens. Patrick: Working remotely. Learn Spanish.

 

Chip Martinson

Master of Furniture Design

Chip Martinson

Monkey Wid-a-Fez

I design, build and install custom furniture for restaurants, coffee houses, designers, high end stores and individuals.

What did you want to be when you were 7? I wanted to be a solitary mountain man, friend to Indians and wild animals. There was a big wolf there and a flying car with lasers. What would your 7-year-old self think about what you are doing now? What, no lasers?! What is your guilty design pleasure? Leaving notes to the future hidden in the furniture. Which designer living or dead would you have dinner with and why? I honestly cannot imagine a more dreary experience. A waste of good food. Favorite New Orleans design landmark? St. JosephChurch on Tulane. They really took the concept of Joseph being a woodworker and ran with it. Amazing details. Favorite activity for creative inspiration? Talking with those involved in the project. What is always in your fridge? Woeber’s jalapeño mustard. Favorite New Orleans band? Ernie K-Doe, Emperor of the Universe. What is your favorite beverage? Or favorite New Orleans cocktail? Ice cold Miller High Life and a shot of bourbon. Favorite snowball flavor? Watermelon. Perfect road trip? Maine in the summertime with wifey. Favorite movie? “The Mummy,” “Motorcycle Diaries.” What is something you’ve learned from living in New Orleans? Always walk on the shady side of the street. What makes you laugh? OK, a horse walks into a bar … Something you learned to do during the pandemic? Or something you’d like to learn to do? Work alone.