Interview: Passion Above All With Christopher Grubb

Interview: Passion Above All With Christopher Grubb

Today’s interview highlights the positive aspects of doing what you love. Christopher J. Grubb, president of Arch-Interiors,Inc. took the challenge of answering our 15 questions which reveal an impressive experience and an optimistic view on working in the field of design and architecture. Have fun reading Christopher’s answers and be sure to identify the small lessons that are subtly being provided in the interview below.

  • Freshome: What determined your passion for design? Tell us about the moment when you decided this is the way to go.
  • Christopher Grubb: When I was very young, I would draw buildings on the blank inside covers of my coloring books.  That eventually lead to playing with wood blocks and legos.  I was that kid who knew he wanted to be around architecture and interior design was the perfect combination of working in architecture and moreover finishes and furnishings.
  • Freshome:Can you remember your first design project? Describe it a bit, whether it is a gizmo you worked at as a little kid or something that was sold at a large scale.
  • Christopher Grubb: I was constantly drawing floor plans and cities as a kid.  I “accidentally” started my own business in college and had a café, home in Carmel Valley and a kitchen addition.  I loved it.  But knew I was too young and needed more experience and how to market.  I was always entrepreneurial in spirit selling stationary and Christmas cards door to door.  I was eager to have my own business again and started it 5 years after graduating from design school.
  • Freshome: What field of design are you most interested in? Do your works have anything to do with it ? (We are asking this because not many designers do what they actually want)
  • Christopher Grubb: I’m blessed in that I love all areas of design I work in.  It’s basically learning who my client is, whether residential or commercial, and delivering a space that reflects them.  I’m very excited I was given the opportunity to design my own line of bathroom furniture that launches this fall.  As designers we are constantly designing one of a kind pieces of furniture etc.  So to get to create my own that will not only be one of a kind but for the public is very rewarding.
  • Freshome: Chronologically describe what you are going through (feeling and thoughts) on your way to work.
  • Christopher Grubb: I’m a list maker and the morning starts out creating the list in my head.  What are our deadlines, what is the status of the projects we currently have going on, who do I need to call and follow up on project leads.  But – my day never ends up being my list.  There are too many variables in the world of design and our projects.
  • Freshome: What is your favourite book/magazine on design? How about your favourite site?
  • Christopher Grubb: Interior Design Magazine I like because it’s global and Wallpaper because it is fashion, design, product and travel.  Books are too numerous because I also like books on fashion and photography.  They are all with an eye to design.  And the site Go Design Go from the Cohn design centers which is great to keep up to date on what is happening around the country with product etc.
  • Freshome: What inspires you?
  • Christopher Grubb: Travel.  If I could travel full time and work part time I would.  Not only is it a break from my work, but to see different cultures, the people, architecture, museums, the ethnic use of colors, the country side, etc.  It is beyond inspiring for me. I always come home refreshed, inspired and recharged!
  • Freshome: What is the most frustrating aspect of your job as a designer? And the most rewarding one?
  • Christopher Grubb: Frustrating that your work depends on hundreds of people to fulfill your visions and what can and does go wrong in the process. Rewarding is when a project is done and our clients say we LOVE what you have done.  Every client is different so to exceed their expectations with a design that resonates and reflects them is why I am in the design business.  And then referrals are the biggest compliment of all.
  • Freshome: From your point of view, is design an art or a science?
  • Christopher Grubb: I see it as both.  The science part is there as a function to first fulfill.  How the space is used.  The needs in the space.  And at the end of the day it is a business. The art is the use of the abundance of decorative items available.  Especially something you can use in an unexpected innovative way.
  • Freshome: Tell us something unusual that happened in your carrier.
  • Christopher Grubb: When I was with a prior firm, we did hospitality work in Las Vegas.  I had a very large commercial client in Los Angeles who knew this.  In a meeting, the owner remembered I had projects in Vegas and needed a trade show booth for a show there and said “you used to do work in Las Vegas, so you can do a trade show booth for us!”  Being my business was very new, I said sure, walked out of the meeting and said to myself “how do you even do a trade show booth?”  I figured it out and completing 16 of them for various clients in the next couple of years.  Ultimately, there was a lot of competition and as my business grew it made more sense to focus on the residential and commercial projects and not spread myself too thin.
  • Freshome: Let’s say you entered a contest. You have to come up with a design for the first house on the Moon built for extra-terrestrial living. How would your project look like?
  • Christopher Grubb: Wow. Honestly I would need to interview the extra-terrestrial.  See how/where they currently live and being we most likely cannot speak the same language, use images that inspire them to create what would be appropriate for them.  My taste is always part of a project, but not my ego.  If the client is not in love with the end result, I didn’t do my job well. Even for an extra-terrestrial!
  • Freshome: If design were a product, what would it be and how would you design it?
  • Christopher Grubb: Is this like Barbara Walters asking what kind of tree would I be?  It would be some sort of multi faceted piece of furniture incorporating the abundance of opportunities to be in various parts of designs.  It would have storage, a fold down seat that the fabric could be changed out at whim, a cooling compartment, a swing arm light, a writing surface.  It would have music emanate from it, a mirror, a sink, and panels of wood or metal that can be changed as trends and one’s taste changes.  It would obviously be large and not for every client!
  • Freshome: If you had no limits (money, resources), what would you create?
  • Christopher Grubb: Can I steal the idea from Star Trek of a transporter?  It would be great to travel instantly to a location on the planet and avoid jet lag.  Global travel takes a lot of time…as does traffic here in Los Angeles.  If that doesn’t count as original then modern “transporter stations” that would be chic and adventurous like airports the experience of pre-travel in America used to be.
  • Freshome: Share something you would like the world to know about you or your ideas.
  • Christopher Grubb: My eyes are constantly open.  Be it a tree, a building, a car, etc – everything gives me an new idea that can be  for a current or future project.
  • Freshome: What do you think of our site?
  • Christopher Grubb: I love Freshome features such great architectural projects that are global, ideas that are very useful room by room and interesting ideas and product that are “out of the box” and unexpected.
  • Freshome: What advice do you have for young designers or architects reading this interview?
  • Christopher Grubb: First, make sure it’s your passion.  There are a LOT of people who want to be in this business but if you just see it as a “job”, you should think of something else to do.  Get as much experience as possible.  Perhaps you have to do an internship in school for credit.  Do another one.  Or two.  It’s a chance to see how different designers create, think, and do business.  And ask questions. Anything you learn no one can take away from you.


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