T W G : Design Journal

Legends X: Inside the Crystal Ball


Last month I had the wonderful opportunity of speaking at the 10th anniversary of LEGENDS X: Today’s Vision, Tomorrow’s Home. I spent the hour conferring with colleagues Thomas Kligerman, Ellen O’Neil, Michael S. Smith and our gracious moderator Sophie Donelson, the editor-in-chief of House Beautiful. The topic of discussion, Inside the Crystal Ball, prompted us to examine the impacts of our current environment and our need to create safe areas in our personal lives, especially in our homes. I reflected on how my own home has become a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of city life in San Francisco. Ultimately, the future of design will consist of comfortable spaces that give rise to personal reflection and relaxation.


Judging the Luxe RED Awards

This year, I was honored to judge the 2018 Luxe RED Awards with an esteemed panel of colleagues including Founding Editor-in-Chief of Luxe, Pamela Jaccarino, along with Molly Hunt, Kathryn Ireland, Tom Kligerman and Ellie Cullman. Hosted by Luxe Interiors and Design, the awards called for projects across the United States showing dedication to excellence in residential design. With a thriving design community, it was clear to see a plethora of diverse talent and creative minds behind outstanding work.

Project submissions were divided across 9 categories related to the fields of interior architecture, interior design and landscape architecture. Comprised of two components, the awards were divided into project categories and a readers’ choice vote. Out of 1,500 submissions, 135 regional winners and 9 national winners were selected with each project judged on overall aesthetics, the regional relevance of the work, and the creativity that went into the project.

National and regional winners were announced March 1 and recognized at Luxe RED Awards ceremony on April 25. In addition, winners were featured in Luxe Interiors + Design magazine on newsstands May 2018. Take a look at some of my favorite winning projects.  I’d like to extend my deepest congratulations to the talent behind the phenomenal submissions and winners of this year’s Luxe RED Awards.

Christine Markatos Design - Regional Winner, Outdoor Living Space. Photo: Manolo Langis.

Christine Markatos Design - Regional Winner, Outdoor Living Space. Photo: Manolo Langis.

Wade Design Architects - National Winner, Classic Architecture. Photo: Paul Dyer.

Wade Design Architects - National Winner, Classic Architecture. Photo: Paul Dyer.

Lichten Craig Architecture + Design - National Winner, Classic Interior Design. Photo: Antoine Bootz.

Lichten Craig Architecture + Design - National Winner, Classic Interior Design. Photo: Antoine Bootz.


Intersection: Design + Technology

How Design Icon Paul Wiseman Uses Technology to Design For Silicon Valley’s Top Innovators

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In October, I had the pleasure to speak at the annual Design Leadership Network Summit hosted here in San Francisco. The condensed two-day program focused on design, innovation, and technology. Being positioned in the Bay Area, I have worked with many Silicon Valley clients over my 37 years in business. These included venture capitalists, investment bankers, tech CEOs; brilliant, creative people who pioneered innovation and technology. Designing their homes, I learned how to talk to them about interior design in a way that related to their world. And in learning to speak their language, they taught me how to incorporate technology tools into The Wiseman Group. I shared these insights with the Summit audience that morning.

One of my most enjoyable tech collaborations was with client Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel and the author of Moore’s Law. We were working on his retirement home; it was a four-year project. At the beginning of the project, he was reticent, observing the selections I brought him each meeting without commenting.  And then one day during a presentation he began speaking up, voicing an opinion. His choices were the best I had ever seen a client make to date. Gordon explained he figured out an algorithm for my process and that’s how he was able to connect the dots of design.

Another fantastic tech client I've worked with is Marc Benioff, the founder of Salesforce. It has been an inspiring collaboration over the years, both on a personal and a professional level. I admire how he is changing the way the corporate world operates by promoting camaraderie, employee wellness, and fun in a sustainable workspace. Dedicated meditation rooms and lifestyle areas in Salesforce’s San Francisco headquarters give the staff a place to reflect and recharge. The CEO also believes in philanthropy, and each employee donates their time or money to the community. Marc is all about energy, flow, and curve concepts we can integrate into the design world.

To work with the best in tech, I’ve outlined what I consider a designer’s must-haves in their tech toolkit:

The iPhone: I attended the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show and found an 80-million-year-old specimen that I knew would be perfect for a client’s  house. I took a picture using my phone and sent it to him, and got an immediate reply “buy it!” It was at that moment I realized this iPhone is a pretty handy design tool.   

Hand-drawn and Computer Renderings: I am still a big fan of hand drawings and watercolors. They capture the nuanced aesthetics of design. It is a mystical concept; subjective but not functional. While hand renderings sell the spirit of a room to the client, they cannot be used to build it. Then came the capacity to merge architectural plans with technology platforms. Programs like Sketchup allowed the designer to layout scaled models showing space and form. The format was exact and objective but did not engage the viewer emotionally in the way hand renderings do.  

Photo Realistic Renderings: Photo-realistic renderings have created the ability to fuse the artistry of hand-renderings with the precision of technical drawings. We can show our clients an image of what their space could look and feel like before production begins.

The Wiseman Group uses this photo-realistic rendering to interface with clients in either remote locations or where privacy is the foremost concern. For a Los Angeles project, we designed the entire home with the architect using this technology before we broke ground for the client.

3D Printing: One of my favorite technological advancements in design has been 3D printing. It has sped up the custom design process and made it more cost efficient. Our clients want furnishings accurately produced the first time. 3D technology allows for straightforward communication of intricate designs in a very specific way. We have designed and 3D modeled furniture frames that our upholsterer can then build showing the complex curves and proportions. The Wiseman Group provides unique custom hardware and furnishings for clients at the price of standard showroom goods.

Virtual Reality: Virtual reality empowers our clients to “walk-through” and experience different design options before committing to them. While guiding clients through the 3D models of VR, we can collaborate on paint color, finish details and interior architecture. The immersive environment mimicking a real space adds to the clarity of the design decisions. Our clients feel confident that the selections they are making are the ones that resonate with them the most.

The convergence of technology + design has resulted in dynamic collaborations. Both disciplines enable us to communicate who we are to the outside world. On a technology front, we use the tools to express ourselves professionally and personally. On a design level, we strive for the same self-expression in the interiors of our homes and workspaces. Ultimately they both seek to meet the same end goals.

Click on the video to watch highlights from Design Leadership Summit.

The Modern Architect

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Last month, I was invited to be a guest on the radio and podcast show "The Modern Architect.” Produced and recorded at Stanford University's KZSU radio station, the weekly show features in-depth interviews with architects, designers, and industry veterans from all over the world, so I was honored to be part of the show.

When I arrived on the Stanford campus, as always, I was energized by the grand Romanesque architecture. I made my way to Memorial Way where architect aficionado and radio host Tom Dioro met me at the door to the basement of KZSU and invited me to squeeze with him into a small room with a microphone.

I slipped on my headphones and Tom started with an introduction. Modern jazz-beats served as the backdrop to our conversation and eased the transition points during the show. Interviews can sometimes feel scripted with low energy, but Tom shared his knowledge and enthusiasm for design and expressed a sheer delight while asking questions, which immediately put me at ease.

After chatting about my upbringing in California’s Sacramento Valley and the early influences on my career, we got into the substance of the talk: How I approach my work and how I guide my clients to realize their dreams and reflect themselves in the personal spaces we help create for them. Tom and I covered many topics, including Hearst Castle, Wabi Sabi (an ancient Zen Buddhist term that means deliberately imperfect), working with the CEO of Salesforce, and how one’s home can be an outer reflection of the inner self.

I enjoyed reflecting on how The Wiseman Group has evolved in many ways over the years, but how we have maintained our founding principles to this day. My hope is to inform and educate about design and architecture and to inspire new and veteran architects alike.

My Trip to French Polynesia

Paul has always been drawn to tropical climates and locations, so he was thrilled when the opportunity arose for him to travel to the atoll of Taha’ in French Polynesia. While the rest of The Wiseman Group followed along on his journey via his Instagram, we really wanted to share the experience with all of you in the best way possible, in his own words. So, from Paul himself, here is a recap of this incredible Polynesian vacation…


One of my goals this year was to take a real vacation, completely off the grid (well, except for my Instagram, of course) with total relaxation. So, when a couple of friends invited me to join them this summer on an excursion to Vahini Island, a remote resort off the island of Taha’ in French Polynesia, I immediately said, “I’m in.”

Mission accomplished: With only nine rooms, a delightful French chef, and an extensive wine list, this private resort was pure heaven. Surrounded by palm trees and tucked inside a coconut grove, this was also my first time traveling to French Polynesia. Decidedly more European than Hawaii, everyone we encountered looked like someone out of a Gauguin painting.


Beyond the wonderful people, I snorkeled everyday and found the myriad of sea life absolutely breathtaking. I had always wanted to see Bora Bora and, in addition to a stunning view of it from my bedroom, we were able to take a day trip and enjoyed a fabulous picnic prepared by our chef. Bora Bora was gorgeous, despite the larger crowds.


All in all, I achieved my goal: With my newfound relaxation, inspiration, and, rejuvenation, I have a new perspective on how to reflect natural beauty in the work with my team here at The Wiseman Group.