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Q&A with Leonard Barszap, d-ash design

This rising star says the future of retail design entails taking a few cues from the hospitality sector



What does winning the 2010 PAVE Rising Star award mean to you?
The fact that the nomination came from one of my clients, Linda Lombardi at Godiva, is the most rewarding part. It wasn’t just the design alone, but rather the relationships I’ve been able to build and the value I brought to our client that won this award for me. I’m also very proud of the design work and collaboration with my colleagues at d-ash design.

What drew you to a career in architecture?
I always did art growing up and would build sculptures out of anything I found. To me, architecture seemed like a way to be able to create sculpture on a grand scale.

As a senior designer at d-ash design, you have LEED – Interior Design & Construction Certification and are a member of the local U.S. Green Building Council. Why is green building important to you?
Architecture is all about transforming environments. While I want all of my designs to achieve exactly this, I don’t want it to be at the detriment
of the environment.

Your background includes designing for hospitality, mixed-use and educational projects. How do you approach a project?
I try not to focus on any particular project type as it can be a limited way to view things. Almost every retail project is mixed-use and the same is true of hospitality.

How do you design an environment that focuses on a brand’s culture and lifestyle?
I believe merging the philosophy behind hospitality and retail design is integral to the success of retail stores in the future. A perfect example of this is the redesign for Godiva, where a café was introduced, making the store a destination in itself to relax, socialize and experience chocolate. By creating these kinds of environments, visiting a retail store becomes more about a community, culture and lifestyle experience.

What’s the biggest challenge facing young design professionals today?
The current state of the economy is hindering young people from getting their foot in the door and getting real experience. I think that a lot of talented people are going to be forced out of our profession due to the lack of available jobs.


Name one lesson you learned while studying at the University of Texas at Austin that you still carry with you today.
To take criticism and not take anything too personally. I bring ideas to the table, but as part of a team, the best idea for the project wins. When you’re designing, you’re balancing the needs of the client, the site and the user, while doing creative problem solving along the way. Knowing when your idea isn’t the best one is a skill, too.



MasterClass: ‘Re-Sparkling’ Retail: Using Store Design to Build Trust, Faith and Brand Loyalty

HOW CAN WE EMPOWER and inspire senior leaders to see design as an investment for future retail growth? This session, led by retail design expert Ian Johnston from Quinine Design, explores how physical stores remain unmatched in the ability to build trust, faith, and loyalty with your customers, ultimately driving shareholder value.

Presented by:
Ian Johnston
Founder and Creative Director, Quinine Design

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