The FORM 13: A Conversation with Griz Dwight

Griz Dwight’s D.C.–based practice specializes in restaurant and retail projects, including Barbatella. Photo by Amber Fredericksen/Courtesy Grizform Design Architects.

At FORM, we really like to know what makes architects and designers tick. What inspires them, delights them, even what aggravates them. It helps us understand their own work and gives us a better understanding of the current states of the profession. We’re pleased to inaugurate a new series on FORMmag.net today—brief conversations with architects and designers, where we take their pulse—and the pulses of their industries. Up first is a q-and-a with Griz Dwight, the principal and owner of Grizform Design Architects, based in Washington, D.C. He gives us plenty to think about.

What direction do you see the profession heading?

We are finally getting beyond the nostalgia trend that design has been stuck in for the past few years. I understand why we all have been looking back to better times. The economy has been tough on many and we wish that it was the way it used to be. Moving forward, designs will be cleaner and more minimal, but spaces will maintain their warmth and character. Natural materials are here to stay, but let’s reinvent the way that we use them.

What buildings inspire you?

I am generally inspired by things other than buildings, but I have been impressed with some of the resort design that I have seen recently. There is a trend with extremely well thoughtout buildings that touch the landscape lightly in a sculptural way. To be honest, I have not actually seen any of the places that I am referring to in person, but I would like to. I’m looking for a travel sponsor if you are interested.

Where else do you find inspiration?

Not to sound too cheesy, but I am finding inspiration everywhere these days. I have two young children and their discovering of the world is inspiring. I am seeing ordinary objects in a new light through their eyes and getting fresh readings from things that I have seen every day.

What are your three favorite objects?

My iPad, my chef’s knife, and my ski boots, though not necessarily in that order.

If you could live anywhere, where it would it be (a location or specific structure)?

Depends on the time of year. Desert island, Tuscan villa, ski resort, and good old Washington, D.C., are all high on the list.

What currents trends will stand the test of time?

Environmentalism. We need to use our resources sparingly.

Color—yes or no?

Yes. We live in a color world so why take it out of our designs? I think that a lot of designers are afraid of color. Embrace it.

What are you reading?

My email.

What are you wearing?

I wear jeans every day. Casual events or formal, jeans go with everything. I cannot remember the last time that I put on a pair of khakis.

What are you eating?

One of the great fringe benefits of being a restaurant architect is that I get to eat very, very well. Recently, I have had amazing meals at Woodward Table, Toki Underground, Farmers Fishers Bakers, and Fiola. We also have a rule at home that the one who cooks does not have to clean. I hate doing the dishes so I make unnecessarily elaborate meals instead of the one-pot wonders that I made as a bachelor.

Do you listen to music while you’re working?

Yes, my brain freezes without music in the office. We have a rule that anyone in the office can play whatever they want and anyone can veto at any time, however the music must stay on. Music in the office is the first question that I ask potential employees.

Are you a sketcher or a computer person?

Both. Sketches are great for the quick idea and computers are best for working out the details. You always need to use the best tool for the job.

Social media—yes or no?

Maybe. . . I do not have a personal Facebook page, but we do have a GrizForm one. I also make the occasional tweet.

 

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