Friday, September 14, 2018

Welcome Back To Italy 2018



I never tire of coming to Italy. This is my eighteenth visit and our 15th Candelaria Design Tour. I would have to say, Italy does now feel like home, as I have probably been here more than any other place other than home! We have a beautiful tour this year, starting in Florence, a week in Umbria and Tuscany, and then we will finish the tour in Venice with a small group of us on to Lake Como for a special celebration of Isabel and my wedding – our fifth anniversary right at the spot we tied the knot, Villa d’Este!


It has been quite a journey to come back here as we had to miss last year due to my Isabel’s fight against breast cancer and then a brain tumor. I promised her we would return and that she would conquer this battle and be the victor which she has done and she returns now cancer free. We again, thank all of you for your prayers, meals, gracious deeds, etc. that you all did for the two of us during this difficult period. It meant so much to us knowing we were not alone in this fight. It has brought on an awareness of how prevalent cancer is out there and how precious every moment one has as you never know what lies ahead in the road. All we know, is that for NOW, now is all that matters and so we are celebrating every moment of every day and in particular this year’s tour to one of our favorite places on earth, ITALY!


I have so many memories that rush back to me while on this tour, in particular here in Florence. Such a magical place and over the course of the last 18 years I have been coming here it is somewhat awe inspiring to notice the change in technology from those first trips with no cell phones to how easy it is to travel here and navigate around compared to then. It is also reflective to look back at how I have changed since that first trip in 2000. Many of those memories come back to me while walking down the streets of Florence remembering the first time I saw the Duomo or crossed the Ponce Vecchio. It makes me wonder at age 57 if I really have more trips ahead of me or in back of me. 


I love sharing this journey with my travelers, this time 22 travelers, many having this tour their first experience traveling to Italy. What an honor it is to share this with them. I have had so many rookie travelers from past journey’s go on to become amazing world travelers because of this Tour. I love that. Travel is amazing – it wakes you up and gets you out of your comfort zone and I love seeing my travelers bring parts of this trip home and into there everyday lives. Americans are always in such a hurry to get to the finish line and Italians celebrate the journey. They are marvelous and beautiful people and truly one of the best joys of coming here. Over the years, I have made so many wonderful friends here and that too I cherish.




Our trip here went without a hitch thanks to the impeccable planning and execution done by my business partner, Evelyn Jung! She makes this tour and all of our tours click! She is our mission control and she is a master at it. We traveled all day Wednesday and arrived Thursday afternoon to the Hotel Brunelleschi to a champagne welcome and check-in. Bravo – that is the way to check in. I love this Hotel and have been coming here for years. They treat us like family and it was wonderful for a number of my travelers already tell me “they feel like they are home” here. 


After settling into our rooms, unpacking and freshening up, we all met at the hotel terrace for a welcome cocktail and then we were off to dinner at the Buca San Giovanni Restaurante right in front of the Duomo! What a great spot to kick off our tour with the stars overhead and the Duomo as our backdrop. How can it get any better…..well it does as my travelers will all see. 




Following dinner, many returned to the hotel to battle the jet lag and a few of us
wondered down to the Westin on the Arno for some rooftop cocktails and then I enjoyed a cigar and some gelato on our walk home. Fantastic start to our 15thTour and I know how special every single moment is.



Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Announcing New Partners at Candelaria Design



So much happening and it’s all exciting for sure!

Probably the most exciting news is that I am proud to announce the official addition of two new principals / partners in our firm, Evelyn Jung, and Meredith Thomson who will now join myself and Vivian Ayala as our team of Candelaria Design Owners!!! We are finalizing the paperwork but for all intentional purposes, this is a done deal. This is not an Elon Musk publicity stunt – this is the real deal! I cannot tell you how proud I am of these ladies and what they have done and what they will bring to the future of this firm. I am not retiring….yet! I still have some miles left to travel, however, it is great to have the added support, creativity, and productivity at the Principal level! My goal is to continue to market, design, provide client relations, and bring management wisdom to our team with my 37 years of experience in architecture along with continued effort with our Candelaria Design Tours, cooking, a new book in the works, and continued production of our show Sketch on The Design Network and Sketch Daily showcasing our team’s work!


Evelyn Jung, has been with me for nearly 12 years and has been an Associate of the firm for over three years but will officially become a vested partner this Fall. Evelyn runs the business operations of our company freeing us to focus on being architects. She is a hard worked, mother of two boys, a lovely wife and one of my best friends in the world. She has been there for me through the great times, but more importantly through some of the tough times too. I am so proud to have her be a part of this company and shows that EVERY position has a vital importance to the success of our company and very position has the OPPORTUNITY in our company to allow that person to rise to the top.


Meredith Thomson joined us in the Spring of 2013 and has proven herself to be one of the best additions to our company over the course of our 19 years in business. A Phoenix, Arcadia native, Meredith graduated from Xavier High School and went on to Norte Dame where she graduated in 2003 with a Bachelor’s of Architecture and went on to work in New York and San Francisco then returning home to Arizona. A licensed Architect, Meredith brings her amazing sketching and design skills, along with her wonderful likable warm nature all which add to the fabric and soul of our company. Her ability to bring a vision to reality in an enjoyable and positive manner embodies what Candelaria Design is about – Inspiring Living!


Vivian Ayala and I are proud to have these two on board and so our INITIAL team is set but I am thrilled to add that our operating agreement is so established to allow more to join the team which I fully expect to happen with our continued growth and success. I have an amazing crew and I can see the opportunities right there in front of me so there is a LOT more to come!


Please welcome both Evelyn and Meredith to the Candelaria Design Management and Ownership Team!!! We will celebrate this magnificent milestone with a Client Appreciation Party set for October. We expect to have one heck of a good time – so stay tuned for details to follow!


Meanwhile, make sure to follow our Candelaria Design Tour Italy departing September 12th! We have our biggest group ever going on this year’s tour – 24 travelers all ready for the experience of a lifetime! Follow us here on our blog, on Instagram, Facebook and our Sketch Daily episodes which will be returning on a weekly basis soon with the addition of our videographer and social media director, Jessica Seifurth. She is providing our filming, editing and production of the Sketch Daily episodes and our SKETCH episodes for Season 3 coming soon to The Design Network https://www.thedesignnetwork.com/series/sketch/


This morning I am typing my blog from the Empress Hotel in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. What a beautiful place and city. Wow, I have been to Vancouver many times, but never here to Victoria and I have to say I really dig it here. Not as big as Vancouver, Victoria has charm and a small town feel yet with plenty of wonderful restaurants and sights to see, especially the Butchart Gardens – amazing.


I ended up here purely by a last minute audible by me and my assistant, Stacey Payne! I was supposed to be in Laguna Beach for meetings with the Vail Project Team, but they had to cancel at the last second so Stacey hightailed me up the coast to rendezvous with my wife Isabel and her Mom, Alette who had already planned a mother-daughter trip to Victoria and so I decided to crash their little party and surprised them when they landed in Seattle switching planes. What fun – and what a great time we are having. I fly home today, but the two will stay until Tuesday so they will still get some one on one time together.








We enjoyed some wonderful time together, some fantastic meals, and of course a cocktail here or there and some nice quiet time together.








Finally, I will end on a somber note as I got word, as many of us did on this past Thursday of the passing of our good friend and a client for me, Art Cunningham. We were all shocked to learn of this sad ending to his life – a life filled with creativity, good times, and ALWAYS that famous smile and laugh we all loved. I loved working and collaborating with him and we had a nice project in the works – in fact I had just sent him a proposal Thursday morning for the next phase of a project we had started in 2015. So many wonderful memories and especially some of the best on Lake Coeur d’Alene on his Stancraft boat. We will all miss you Art as you were well loved, and well liked, by so many! I especially want to send my heartfelt condolences to his lovely wife Janet whom I have known for 36 years and is just the sweetest gal ever. We are all there for you Janet in our thoughts and prayers and if there is anything Isabel and I can do just say it.


Ceremonies will be this coming Thursday at Brophy Chapel at 10 am. God bless you my dear friend.



Well we blazed through July and now we are into August and two of the toughest months of the year if you are in Arizona. Summer is just half over by August 1st as we have really until Halloween before we truly erase the 100º temps. We all know that, but never want to fully acquiesce to that fact and hence why we schedule our Candelaria Design Tour Italy for September. It’s the perfect time to escape.

Speaking of our Italy Tour, this will be our 15th Tour Italy and our 17th Candelaria Design Tour overall now that we have added Spain. This will be our biggest group ever with 23 travelers making this year’s journey and we kicked it off with two fantastic Pre-Trip Dinners the first at Tomasos’s and then the second at our home for those that could not make Tomaso’s – yes and all included in our tour package!

We have travelers coming from Long Beach, Denver, and as far away as Orlando, Florida! Our tour departs on September 12th where we will fly into Florence for two nights and then we will take our convoy to Umbria and our agritourismo farmhouse compound which will act as our hub for a week of exploring Umbria and Tuscany. From there our convoy will drive across Italy to Venice where we will ditch the cars and get on a water taxi to the Hotel Danielle switching from the rustic farmhouses to utter luxury. Three nights in Venice and then its by train to step it up even one more notch with a grand finale at the Villa d’Este on Lake Como where Isabel’s and I will celebrate our 5 year anniversary at the very spot we tied the knot on the last day of our Candelaria Design Tour Italy 2013! You never know what might happen on this year’s tour but I can tell you we have a real exciting group going! Follow us here on our blog, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. We are planning quite the coverage of this year’s journey.

I am typing away from 30,000 altitude somewhere over Kansas on my way back from a weekend in Egg Harbor, Wisconsin where we are just starting the long range master planning process on an amazing property right on the lake for clients we did work for in Cupertino, California. Such a cool project and wonderful people How about someone that cooks for me!!! Now we are talking! My Associate, Damon Wake joined me and we measured, sketched, and ventured in basements and crawl spaces to get all the data we needed. Of course when you work hard, you have to play hard so we made sure we did get some down time in!

Meanwhile, in July I did make it to my 40th High School Reunion in Durango, Colorado! What an kick that was. Reconnected with a lot of wonderful classmates and was able to say a final farewell to one of my all time favorite teachers, Mr. Bruce Branson. I was fortunate enough to visit him Saturday morning before our reunion picnic and he passed on the following Thursday. Again as I have said so many times in these blogs every moment is to be cherished and that visit was one I will never forget. The reunion was another great memory and had the wonderful opportunity to reconnect with a lot of classmates I had not seen in years. Very special for sure and I even had the opportunity to prepare my paella for a group and their mothers the night following! Again – all great lasting memories!

Plenty going on at Candelaria Design that is for sure. It has been one of the busiest summers I can remember and I get the feeling this fall will just keep it going. We currently have projects going in 8 states and all over Arizona from Tubac up to Flagstaff and some unbelievable projects right here in Phoenix and Scottsdale.

Make sure to check out our beautiful home in the summer edition of Country French Magazine now on the newsstands nationwide. We are also excited to have been ranked #14 in the nation and number one in Arizona for luxury residential architectural firms by Bond Custom using a criteria of cost per square foot of projects, total square footage of projects, number of awards received and gross billings. Very proud of my amazing, and unbelievable hard working team. They have been cranking all year and especially all summer. It seems I can swing by the office any time day or night and there is someone there burning the midnight oil. They are all proud of their work and the WOW’s prove it!
We look forward to what we have under construction, especially several just wrapping up – some in design and construction for over twelve years, and wait until you see what we have on the boards! Get ready – its going to be an exciting and very productive second half of the year!


Monday, August 13, 2018

Dog Days Of Summer - August 2018



Well we blazed through July and now we are into August and two of the toughest months of the year if you are in Arizona. Summer is just half over by August 1st as we have really until Halloween before we truly erase the 100º temps. We all know that, but never want to fully acquiesce to that fact and hence why we schedule our Candelaria Design Tour Italy for September. It’s the perfect time to escape.


Speaking of our Italy Tour, this will be our 15th Tour Italy and our 17th Candelaria Design Tour overall now that we have added Spain. This will be our biggest group ever with 23 travelers making this year’s journey and we kicked it off with two fantastic Pre-Trip Dinners the first at Tomasos’s and then the second at our home for those that could not make Tomaso’s – yes and all included in our tour package!

We have travelers coming from Long Beach, Denver, and as far away as Orlando, Florida! Our tour departs on September 12th where we will fly into Florence for two nights and then we will take our convoy to Umbria and our agritourismo farmhouse compound which will act as our hub for a week of exploring Umbria and Tuscany. From there our convoy will drive across Italy to Venice where we will ditch the cars and get on a water taxi to the Hotel Danielle switching from the rustic farmhouses to utter luxury. Three nights in Venice and then its by train to step it up even one more notch with a grand finale at the Villa d’Este on Lake Como where Isabel’s and I will celebrate our 5 year anniversary at the very spot we tied the knot on the last day of our Candelaria Design Tour Italy 2013! You never know what might happen on this year’s tour but I can tell you we have a real exciting group going! Follow us here on our blog, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. We are planning quite the coverage of this year’s journey.












I am typing away from 30,000 altitude somewhere over Kansas on my way back from a weekend in Egg Harbor, Wisconsin where we are just starting the long range master planning process on an amazing property right on the lake for clients we did work for in Cupertino, California. Such a cool project and wonderful people How about someone that cooks for me!!! Now we are talking! My Associate, Damon Wake joined me and we measured, sketched, and ventured in basements and crawl spaces to get all the data we needed. Of course when you work hard, you have to play hard so we made sure we did get some down time in!




Meanwhile, in July I did make it to my 40th High School Reunion in Durango, Colorado! What an kick that was. Reconnected with a lot of wonderful classmates and was able to say a final farewell to one of my all time favorite teachers, Mr. Bruce Branson. I was fortunate enough to visit him Saturday morning before our reunion picnic and he passed on the following Thursday. Again as I have said so many times in these blogs every moment is to be cherished and that visit was one I will never forget. The reunion was another great memory and had the wonderful opportunity to reconnect with a lot of classmates I had not seen in years. Very special for sure and I even had the opportunity to prepare my paella for a group and their mothers the night following! Again – all great lasting memories!




Plenty going on at Candelaria Design that is for sure. It has been one of the busiest summers I can remember and I get the feeling this fall will just keep it going. We currently have projects going in 8 states and all over Arizona from Tubac up to Flagstaff and some unbelievable projects right here in Phoenix and Scottsdale.






Make sure to check out our beautiful home in the summer edition of Country French Magazine now on the newsstands nationwide. We are also excited to have been ranked #14 in the nation and number one in Arizona for luxury residential architectural firms by Bond Custom using a criteria of cost per square foot of projects, total square footage of projects, number of awards received and gross billings. Very proud of my amazing, and unbelievable hard working team. They have been cranking all year and especially all summer. It seems I can swing by the office any time day or night and there is someone there burning the midnight oil. They are all proud of their work and the WOW’s prove it!









We look forward to what we have under construction, especially several just wrapping up – some in design and construction for over twelve years, and wait until you see what we have on the boards! Get ready – its going to be an exciting and very productive second half of the year!