What Drives One Man to Be a Designer


I have been intrigued with home design (interior design) since I was about 7 years old. It all started with a Lincoln Log set and Erector set I got for Christmas. I eventually graduated to a plastic snap together building block system that was the early (some would say stone age) version of Legos. As I put aside the toys of childhood I graduated to collecting various architectural books and magazines and Frank Lloyd Wright and Philip Johnson became my inspiration. My pride and joy was a clay model city that I constructed over a period on a plywood table in the basement of our family home,


In high school, I determined that I would go to college to study architecture and looked forward to my first day as a student at the University of Detroit, now the University of Detroit Mercy. In my second semester, the Dean of the architecture school called me into his office. He was a rather blunt man well known for frequently and unapologetically ruffling feathers and he proceeded to tell me that I needed to leave the architecture school and pursue a different course of study as in his words “You can’t draw and you have no artistic ability”. I was quite naturally crushed. This was back in 1968 long before PC’s and AutoCAD so design was done freehand. I mulled my future and entered the business college to major in accounting and economics for no other reason than I was great at mathematics.


Upon graduation, I worked for Ford Motor Co as an accountant and analyst. It was not the most exciting work for me but the pay and benefits were exceptionally good and my immediate supervisor was one of the best people I have ever worked for. I got to the point where to this day I do not know if I was bored with the work, tired of Detroit winters or both so I left for the California Bay area. I worked as a real estate investment manager for what in those days was known as a Real Estate Syndicator. The work was challenging, I worked with some brilliant people and I got to travel extensively all over the western US including to Seattle where we had properties. I fell in love with Seattle at first sight. As Seattle was just beginning to emerge from the Boeing bust employment opportunities were scarce but I hooked up with a small shopping center developer-builder. I was a project manager and at least got to work on the periphery of project design. I eventually went to work with a one man residential remodeling contractor and as working design-build contractors we did all our own designs and installations. I gained a wealth of first hand residential construction and design experience. But as the expression goes “Time waits for no one” so I left construction as it is an occupation best left for much younger men and women.


At Urbanata I have had the good fortune of working as a Seattle interior designer. It has taken me many years and multiple careers to get me where I can finally do what I enjoy the most. Contrary to the opinion of the Dean of architecture I have an artistic eye, even if I can't draw freehand a straight line. Fortunately, with computers these days it is no longer essential. I can draw upon my 13 years of residential construction experience to assist me in my design work. I also work with a couple of designers on our team that are talented and experienced. Unlike many designers, I know how houses are put together. I understand the construction process, the pitfalls and how best to make especially kitchens and bathrooms function for a specific client and the way they live. The other benefit to my work is that I get to meet new people all of the time and what better place to do that in than in Seattle.


By: Steve Hunter

Image 1 - Lincoln Log Cabin by Jon Jones: Used with permission via creative commons