Designer Gregory Roth approaches his work from a multidisciplinary perspective, having studied visual arts as well as graphic and architectural design. His work reflects this background, demonstrating his abiding interest in the interplays of colors, shapes, spatial layerings, and textures. He has designed commercial, restaurant, and residential projects for two decades, and most recently, has applied his creative focus to the delectably delicious as VP of Design for LA-based bakery Modern Bite. Here, he shares a tour of his home office — as well as some insight into the things that keep him motivated and inspired.
Why did you choose to settle in Los Angeles? When I finished the Southern California Institute of Architecture in 1995, I gave myself two years to develop a career and settle myself in LA. I met my husband at the tail-end of that period, and we quickly established roots here. I love the diverse and endless supply of experiences available in Los Angeles. It’s a great city for adventurous exploration and creative inspiration. I recently took our kids up to the Griffith Observatory after dark, and the place was enshrouded in clouds — you couldn’t see 10 feet in front of you. It was very eerie and disorienting and wonderful; the kids were mesmerized. We saw a coyote standing in the road on the drive down.
How long have you worked from home? I’ve had an office at home since before we had children, so 12+ years. But when our daughter was born, we converted my office into her nursery, and then converted our detached garage into an office/guest studio. That’s where my workday life goes down.
When you set up your home/work space, what did you have to keep in mind? Were there any particular obstacles to overcome? Since I’ve been a stay-at-home dad working part-time for a number of years, I wanted to have the flexibility of working in a space that met multiple needs. So my studio space functions as a very comfortable office, with a long cantilevered desk along the wall of the space and plenty of built-in shelving and storage. The desk is ideal for laying out design boards, preparing for presentations, or for the messy assemblage of cake decorating; the open area below it provides uninterrupted leg room and storage. The studio is divided lengthwise by a wall; one half is designated studio, and the other a sort of library/living space. That’s where grandparents and other visitors stay. This sometimes proves challenging if I’m on a deadline when we have visitors, but on the positive side, we’re not all crowded into the house either.
You established your home business in 2000. What led to that point? I had been working at an architecture studio, and then for an interior design firm, and really wanted to develop my own practice. I did not want to undertake the expense of renting a separate place, and we had a spare room in the house — very convenient, comfortable, and cost effective.
What about your work has changed since becoming a parent? Short answer: my working hours. I work from 9am-ish until 2pm-ish, then spend the afternoons with the kids, and then work again after they’re in bed, from 9pm-ish until…
Aside from that, I do feel a strong sense of responsibility or need to do work that my kids will be proud of and excited about. I used to be lackadaisical about photographing and recording my projects. I find I’m more motivated now to do so in order to have a solid record of my work to share with my children.
How does working from home impact your work? I’m able to devote more time to my work and access it more readily than if I had everything at another location. This is inherently a blessing and a curse.
What would you change about your workspace? Are there any home/work spaces that you would consider ideal? Not all that much, actually. It could definitely use more insulation, and maybe a skylight. A good dusting wouldn’t hurt either.
How do you keep your home workspace organized? Well, my computer desktop is spotlessly immaculate; in the virtually realm, I’m extremely well organized. My physical space presents more challenges. The infrastructure is all there, but the reality is that keeping a neat desk falls way down the priority list when I’m squeezing together work deadlines, school pick-ups, and household management.
Is there any piece of home office furniture you covet right now? I would absolutely flip for an Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman. What a fantastic way to take a break from sitting in front of the screen for hours at a stretch. I’d place them near the window that looks out onto our garden, and recharge with a well edited magazine and a cuppa latte. My grandparents had an original Eames set in their Miami Beach living room, and it was the MOST coveted spot in the house (plus, the ottoman was great fun for spinning on).
What or who inspires you? What drives your creative decisions? When I am emotionally connected to a design challenge, I do my best work, and when that happens, it’s most often because there’s something whimsical, colorful, or quirky about the work that inspires me.
Inspiration comes to me in a million ways. The other day my son was eating pineapple rings, and he cut them at a particular angle so that, put side by side, they created an amazing graphic. I turned it into a design for one of our newest Modern Bite designer “Tile Cookie” series, and I love it. So it could be a piece of fruit, a shadow on a sidewalk, or the silhouette of a palm frond against the sky.
The one person who has had the longest and most constant bearing on my inspiration, though, is my grandmother. She had an amazing sense of style, full of grace, elegance, and Southern strength and charm — all wrapped up in a modern sensibility. (She had that original Eames Lounge Chair, after all!)
Photos: Gregory Roth; bottom image via modernbite.com