Newsletter | May/Jun 2021

Joanne Winship photo: Glacier National Park

Artist and Handyman

by Lisa Scherf

I have always been an unusual mix of artist and handyman. Growing up on a horse farm far from resources, I quickly learned about building, maintenance, and creative problem-solving. These combined with my artistic side, have created the dynamic, practical thinker with imaginative flare. I must admit some corporate jobs have appreciated the latter quality more than others.

One day while I was shopping at a second-hand store, I overheard the staff debating new fixtures, paint, floor plans, etc. I could hear how daunted and overwhelmed they felt. This being one of my favorite spots, as well as a lovely non-profit in dire need of a makeover, I offered to help. Having completed two years of fashion design school, I was confident I could help guide them in the right direction. I had no idea the project would become my baby and the catalyst to a whole new life adventure-the life of a commercial interior designer.

Before I get too far, let me state that I am in my first years as a designer. The remarkable fact that follows this is that these recent years are the most magical I've experienced. What started as volunteering for a day ended with my completion of an entire store remodel. A store designed, built, and brought to life by me! I finished the project, and I revealed not only a new store but a new passion and a life calling. I joyfully executed a few more projects, and then, COVID. It felt as though I was nearing the peak of a mountain high with energy when a rockslide hit. Of course, it hurt to stumble but with a humble heart and a new addiction to interiors dusted off, picked the rocks out of my knees and enrolled in Interior Design school. I chose to turn this hurdle into an opportunity, and I knew getting more advanced with my designs meant getting my license. I'm halfway through school, and again, I'm having the time of my life. Whether I'm studying design history or working in the field, for me, life doesn't get any better than this. Thank you for investing in my story; I look forward to yours.

With that, I'll leave on this interesting note. Several people have asked me why I prefer commercial design over residential. I answer, "residential design weaves the story of a household. Where they're going, where they've been, who they are, and what they love. It's a story with a beautifully human narrative. Commercial design, in contrast, brings to light a world of fiction and dreams, the things beyond human. It's a space that encourages me to play in grand scale. Only there do I get to design stuff like 15' walls with splashed blood. It's imagination heroin, and I'm absolutely hooked! Be well, be safe, and most of all BE CREATIVE. 

Gauss Surgical Menlo Park CA 

This project was so fun! The CEO of a biomedical company that produces products to analyze blood in surgical settings wanted something to inspire the staff but also highlight their product focus. I commissioned a local artist to create a custom fire ink piece using blood-red ink. Then I had the artwork photographed, blown up, and converted to a 15' wall wrap. The result was one of a kind striking focal piece covering the main wall of the companies lounge area. The staff tells me how much they now love working across from the intriguing and mesmerizing "blood wall".  Gauss Surgical Menlo Park CA

Urban Boutique Grand Avenue Oakland CA 

This store is my first design child. I volunteered to help an area non-profit that helps single mothers transitioning out of poverty with housing and job training. We were on a 3-week timeline and bare minimum budget. Working with lighting and paint donations, 3/4 steel gas/water pipes, and common board wood I designed, built and installed new clothing racks, display shelves, light fixtures, and even a backlit shoe display wall. The store has seen a 50% increase in sales since the remodel which enabled them to build a new training area in the back. This project showed me the power of creativity, community, and passion!

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