This week, we’re talking with designer Roman Reiterer of bspk design, inc. in Venice. (The name “bspk”, a disemvoweling of the word bespoke, is a direct reference to the duo’s approach to creating one-off, client-focused homes.) Roman, who hails from Vienna, Austria, where he trained as a furniture maker and interior designer, moved to Los Angeles in 1995 to study at UCLA, earning his degree in interior architecture. He went on to work with several residential firms before launching his own in 2003 but in 2018, he joined forces with local Designer Chris Faulhammer to launch bspk. Together they’re devoting their talents to making truly contemporary homes. We’re big fans of their vision and delighted to celebrate their upcoming second anniversary with this post.
Snyder Diamond: What inspired you and Chris to join your efforts as bspk?
Roman Reiterer: I saw architects, interior designers, and landscape designers all pulling in different directions. It didn’t make sense to me, so I wanted to integrate those sectors under one roof. Chris is a traditionally trained Designer [he previously worked with Gehry Partners and XTEN Architecture, among others and we’d collaborated together on jobs for more than 10 years. We quickly realized we’d be better if we combined forces. Together, we can create the type of experience or work environment clients’ normally only get with a large firm but with an individualized approach to both the client and the process.
SD: How would you describe the homes you're creating together?
RR: Our emphasis is on contemporary and modern design. A lot of people think that modern means a box-shaped house with large windows and minimal decorative elements; we’re trying to instill greater architectural integrity, harmonizing interior and exterior spaces in terms function and aesthetics, that is personalized and timeless.
Completely Contemporary in Santa Monica
For this 2017 Santa Monica residence, Roman and Chris had the goal of not only maximizing the functionality of the living areas and bedrooms but of creating an open first floor plan that seamlessly transitioned between interior and exterior spaces, to take full advantage of the climate and limited lot size. The bedrooms on the second floor are all connected with a “living landing,” which is also home to a spiral staircase that leads to a large rooftop deck for entertaining.
SD: Your career has run parallel to the social media boom. How have you seen it change or influence business?
RR: Before the recession in 2008, and all the way back to the 1960s, there wasn’t much change in the way design businesses were set up. Clients would get their information directly from the professionals; a person off the street couldn’t access materials or prices without them. Then it all changed with technology—homeowners now have the same access to information as a professional. Platforms like Pinterest and Houzz have changed the conversation; they’ve democratized design. Perceptions and conversations have completely changed. There’s so much file sharing now—in all creative fields—everyone jumps on what is perceived as a trend and then six months later it’s changed. From a business standpoint, it’s changed everything, especially the longevity of design as clients are requesting aesthetics that will come and go quite quickly. With bspk, we’re ignoring that. We don’t want a ‘trend stamp’ put on our work. Like Mies van der Rohe or Frank Lloyd Wright, we want our designs to stand the test of time.
Vacation-like in Venice
In 2015, the firm completed a Venice home for a family of four that made every inch count. The upstairs bedrooms open to large decks and are connected by a central library, rather than traditional hallways. We especially love the Jack-and-Jill bathroom, illuminated by a massive skylight.
SD: What are you working on at the moment?
RR: We have a couple of large residential projects in Santa Monica and one in Malibu, as well as one in the City of Walnut. We also have a couple of multi-residential projects in Mid-City and Hollywood.
SD: How do clients find you?
RR: While some of our clients find us from new or traditional media, most of our clients are direct referrals. We have such an intimate connection with our clientele; we’re not one size fits all. While the overall process is essentially the same, it changes with each project because it’s client driven. The goal is to give our clients something of their own.
SD: What’s ahead for 2020?
RR: We are excited to be expanding bspk design with bspk build, a one-stop-shop, design-build service with a general contractor integrated on the project from the start. This will help to ensure everything stays on budget and that all the professionals involved are pulling on the same string to maximize the client’s investment and sanity throughout the entire project. A win-win for everyone.
SD: What sets bspk apart from other local firms?
RR: For bspk design, while we provide similar services to larger firms, both partners are 100% hands on with the client for a level of attention that is simply not possible with larger firms. For bspk build, there are very few firms locally that offer a complete design-build service with professionals that have twenty years plus experience each in their individual fields.
The Ultimate Residential Retreat
This newly completed, 6,000-square-foot home in Walnut is designed in a U-shape that wraps around an indoor-outdoor pool, and is in keeping with Feng Shui principles. Large roof overhangs allow for extensive glass paneling while providing shade. By creating green roofs, the design not only allows for natural cooling but also softens the vistas from the second-floor bedrooms.
All images courtesy of bspk design, inc.