NEWS & MEDIA

Ron Fields' thought leadership and projects are of such high quality they are often showcased in local and national design and luxury periodicals. Read on below to see some of the most notable press mentions and featured coverage.

THE LEARNING CHANNEL

FAKING IT – TOOLBELT TO TOILE

March 7, 2003

David Doughtery is a 36-year old union carpenter who works the commercial construction sites in Boston. His life revolves around the two bars and six TVS that populate his home. David, who has never been farther west than Washington D.C., is about to be turned into a Beverly Hills Interior Designer. Training him will be the design team of Bussell and Livingstone. After just four weeks with Janet and Barrie, David will have to take part in an exhibition with professional designers and put together a topnotch living room under the scrutiny of three expert judges, Ron Fields, ASID, Janetta McCoy, Ph. D. and Genevieve Gorder.

EARLIEST AMERICAN DECOR FOR DELIGHTFUL DREAMING

Published in Southwest Magazine
by Ron Fields, ASID

Let the Navajo ‘rainbow goddess" enclosing this page with her characteristic elongated U-Shaped body inspire day dreams of an arrow-sharp Indian décor. Few decorating schemes allow you to revel so deliciously in "antique" charm. The great trial nations, especially those of the Southwestern united states and Western British Columbia, continue to produce painting, weaving, basketry, pottery, and woodcarving in the exquisite, painstaking traditions of their forefathers 1600 years ago.

You can embellish a wall with a clutch of plaques plaited of desert willow, yucca or bear grass, or top a tree-trunk table with a bit of pueblo pottery fashioned of coiled mesa clay and smoothed with gourds and pebbles in the ancient way. Splurge on the wonderful rugs of the Taa Dine — "The People" — as the Navajos so proudly named themselves. From this basis of a few good modern, but authentically crafted pieces, you can free-wheel with fill-ins of dozens of mass-manufactured items designed with Indian motifs.

Moodmakers for the room at upper right are hand carved Hopi Kachina dolls that bring all the dreamy legends of their three aspects — as supernatural spirits, as male dancers who represent the spirits, as unique dolls — into a wide-awake décor. A fine foil for their softly-lit cabinet display is wallpaper in primitive Indian shapes and in desert sage and sandstone tones.

The Indian mural framed by a rustic daybed directly right is a faithful reproduction of venerable Utah Indian rock painting. Contemporary fabrics reflect the lozenge shape of a Navajo chief’s blanket and this tribe’s beloved bayeta red color.

Teepees and Tlingit totem poles, Zuni silver, Zia bowls, wampum, feathers, and buffalo robes – myths and medicine men and magic – these are the strong stuff of the original American dream, a rich and beautiful source for today’s delightful decorating.

VIEWPOINT: THE CRYSTAL CATHEDRAL REVISITED

Published in Designers West
by Ron Fields, ASID

Ever since the September opening of the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California, the Reverend Robert H. Schuller’s $18 million replacement for his ministry’s drive-in theater has instigated a plethora of criticism. Some of it has been favorable. But, considering the spirit in which its star-shaped soaring spaces had been planned, almost all of it has been dishearteningly cold.

Could the acoustics of its white concrete and steel pipe scaffolding be improved? Could the thermostatically-controlled motors that open and close some of the 10,661 glass panes comprising the building’s walls provide the necessary air conditioning? Is it viable to spend $1000 a day to clean them? It seemed more interesting to wonder if its architects, AIA gold medal winner Philip Johnson and his partner John Burgee, had met their Waterloo. No one could be bothered with the simple question upon which all memorable religious architecture rests: does it speak to the heart?

Surely, this religious building deserves at least one review written from an emotional rather than a technological viewpoint. Especially since its revered creator, Johnson, says: "I think that architecture should really be done and majorem gloriam dei – to the greater glory of god – and that religious buildings are really what architecture is all about."

Being in such a spectacular place makes me aspire to greater heights. Standing in the Crystal Cathedral, I recall having a similar spiritual feeling the first time I stood inside St. Paul’s.

On the evening put aside to honor the architects of the Crystal Cathedral, I had the opportunity of meeting and spending an hour with Philip Johnson. As we conversed, I was struck by the man’s presence, comparable, I thought, to Olivier’s. He is a warm, funny delightful human being.

He is as real as your favorite friend, as mighty as a sumo wrestler and he has the genius of Picasso. This night honoring Mssrs. Johnson, Burgee, and Schuller is one I will never forget.

Dr. Schuller told how he wanted a place where the congregation would have no obstructions between their seats and the pulpit. He wanted them to be able to see the sky. He said that if a man could sit with a clear mental view with no diversions, his deepest feelings could rise.

Certainly the architects did not fail him. They brought the openness of the Astrodome with the entire skin of the building being of glass, so the worshipper could see the clouds and all the heavens.

This wonder is like a melodious concerto that needs to be experienced from many different locations, over and over again, inside and out.

I saw the sun set from the office/dressing room built for Dr. Schuller on the lower level of the Cathedral. It was magnificent. White puffy clouds turning pink, then gray.

I know I will visit it many more times during my life. I want to see it on different kinds of days, from different views afforded by the angled rows of seating.

Two weeks before, out of interest, and to get into the mood of Johnson’s special kind of creativity, I climbed up on the wall overlooking his "glass house" in New Canaan, Connecticut. I must say that at a distance of 100 yards, I felt fortunate to see it, somewhat frustrated because I couldn’t touch or be touched by this piece of sculpture. But tonight I was deeply touched by this monument.

John Burgee is Philip Johnson’s partner. He is a happy man who is proud of his work. His description of finding the solution to motorizing the 90 foot tall doors that open to the parishioners who, still, can sit in their cars while listening to Schuller’s sermons, was like listening to "M" explain his latest gadget to "007."

It seemed to me that John Burgee is the mechanical genius who, besides being able to conceive architecturally, sees that all the loose threads are trimmed and all the bolts tightened to just the right torque.

As an interior designer, my eyes wandered to the countless design details, starting with the matched veins of red marble used on the kneeling steps and up onto the strong span of marble walls creating the pulpit.

The tall but simple cross counterpoints the design. Another important detail is the way it joins the marble. This calls up Burgee’s story of a man who approached him and said, "It really looks and feels like a church," without having seen the cross, which might be the only obvious ecclesiastical touch within the entire space.

Other wonderful details include: the simple, comfortable sculptured oak seating; the offering of a fountain inside the structure; as well as the geometry of the superstructure.

While many view the shape of the building from above as one of a star, I see it more as an abstract cross.

Johnson is a lover and practitioner of fantasy architecture. We can, if we choose, take inspiration from this philosophy and put it into use in our own particular way. Maybe we all can follow suit in taking a "never been done before" approach to our own design, when and where possible. The works of Johnson and Schuller are here not only to be enjoyed, but to inspire us to delve deeper and deeper into our souls for more richness. Both in the way we design environments and pursue our own destinies.

I guess it would be easy to follow the critics who comment on items like "the money spent this way." I’m sure Notre Dame was panned by some because of its expense, or finding other items to criticize. But, rather I choose to honor its grandeur.

Come all ye to this special place on earth. I will visit it at sundown, at an Easter sunrise service, at Christmas, and during a rainstorm.

When I left the building I felt exhilarated – a direct reaction o a very powerful experience.

 

COMMERCIAL INTERIORS — CELEBRITY OFFICES/CBS TELEVISION HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA

Published in Designers West
by Ron Fields, ASID

Project: Celebrity Offices/CBS Television

Location: Hollywood, California

When interior designer Ron Fields was retained by CBS television to create a dressing room/office for TV personality Dinah Shore, he was faced with an exciting challenge. The situation was made even more interesting by the fact that this was only the fourth time in the 25-year CBS history that the studio had designated a private, "lock and key" space for a celebrity. The other three personalities were Danny Kaye, Red Skelton and Carol Burnett.

According to Fields, after his first meeting with Ms. Shore he made a concentrated effort to perceive her in terms of her environment; establishing a one-to one relationship between her personality and a corresponding dressing room/office setting in physical terminology. His main thrust was through color translated into a comfortably appointed, home-like surrounding. The walls in one room of the suite are covered in a bright; crewel embroidery that acts as a perfect backdrop for an armless sofa upholstered in a brilliant vermilion fabric. In the second room, walls were left nearly neutral to set off the tri-colored fabric on the sectional sofa and the harmonizing wood tables.

While working on the space for Ms. Shore, Fields was introduced to Burt Reynolds. At Reynolds’s suggestion, Fields then met with Dick Clayton of Richard Clayton Enterprises, manager for Burt Reynolds. The result was an agreement for Fields to design a private office environment for Clayton’s Sunset Strip location. After the initial meeting, there was no communication between designer and client regarding the design plan; the final product was to be a complete and total surprise for Clayton.

The entrance to Richard Clayton Enterprises is a perfect study in understated elegance. The unmistakable touch of the professional hand is beautifully styled evidence; but the entire design package follows a superbly low-key outline. The reception desk, covered in a Spanish tile pattern, curves to meet a dark green wall with stark white trim. A built-in bookcase and storage cabinet flanks one side of the desk and offers easy access for the secretary. Furnishings and accessory pieces are trimmed in a dark colored wicker to enhance the mood of sleek mellowness.

The private office of the Clayton suite follows a pattern of uncomplicated drama, using color and texture as the basic guidelines. The overall space was built around a salt-water aquarium designed by Jan-Michael Vincent — another of Clayton’s clients. The upper portion of the walls is covered in a brick colored felt, lower portion off-white, with combining effect delineated in rich wood tones. Underscoring the simplicity of the office is a handsome white, rust and brown patterned area rug boldly pointing the way to the sofa covered in a highly complementary fabric. Two guest chairs and a high-back executive chair are upholstered in a deep rust suede with nail trim.

The third star in Fields’ celebrity trilogy is the dressing room/office of Cher. For her CBS space, Cher selected an old control room constructed on two levels. When asked for basic parameters for the overall design plan, she chose an American Indian theme. As it turned out, this selection presented Fields with one of his most intriguing and challenging projects. He set out researching American Indians in terms of color, environment and artifacts. He spent a great deal of time at the Southwest Museum, at American Indian trade shows, and even went so far as to subscribe to an American Indian newspaper.

The first step in the project was to transform the 11’ entry ceiling into a stunning teepee complete with a sheep’s horn and rope fixture. While standing in the teepee, it’s possible to look up through the top of the ceiling and see a painted blue sky.

One of the rooms features a rustic wood daybed backed by a colorful mural. The mural is actually a reproduction on rock textured vinyl of a painting found on the side of a big rock near Moab, Utah. Contributing to the final effect are pestels, baskets, Cher’s private collection of Kochina dolls, and one entire wall of woven plaques from a number of different American Indian tribes. There is also a large number of Navajo rugs – one of which is more than 80 years old.

Furniture: Waldo Designs, Michael Bolton, Ron Fields Designs, Harper’s of California, Tropi-Cal, London Cabinet Company, Quackenbush & Winkler, Rockwell—West, Hasi Hester, Marge Carson, Peter Lang, Jean of Topanga; paint: Robertson Color Center; accessories: Snyder-Brunet Cie., J.N. Bishop Gallery, J. Robert Scott, The Indian Trader, Pillowcraft, Hudson-Rissman; lighting: Kovacs, Bruce Eicher, Nessen, Lightolier, Chapman, Gerald Murray Designs, Wilshire House; mirror walls: Biltmore Glass; teepee: CBS Construction Shop: planting: Jimmie’s Plant Studio, La Cienega Nursery; flooring: Alison T. Seymour: carpet: Lees, Sewelson’s, Irish Carpets Inc.; wallpaper: Wolf-Gordon, Pindler & Pindler; rug: Norm Crosby; art/sculpture: mural by Marsha Silvers; Leo Duval, DeVille Galleries; fabric: S. Harris, Contemporary hides, Snyder-Brunet Cie., S.M. Hexter, Pindler & Pindler, Hasi Hester, Lee/Jofa, Brunschwig & Fils, Westgate, Stronheim & Romann, Clark & Burchfield. Photographs by Harold Davis.

THE FUNCTION OF A KITCHEN

Published in Kitchens by Professional Designers
by Ron Fields, ASID

From prehistoric times onward, the hearth has been the heart of the home. As we head for the 1990’s, the kitchen has become an increasingly complicated environment, but is still the hub of the house. The openness of the room invites everyone to share in the working pleasures of nurturing, and the open counters of a kitchen encourage sociability.

In this day of the two-paycheck family and the latch-key child, the kitchen has become even more important as a communication center, far beyond the old days when you tacked a note on the refrigerator.

As entire families spend days passing each other like ships in the night, often the preparation and consumption of the evening meal is the only time they have to communicate, to interact "en famille."

I even suggest the installation of a small office computer to facilitate further togetherness, encouraging a family member who might otherwise go on to another part of the house to do homework or other work to stay closer to the heart of the family. Incidentally, an extremely organized friend of mine has all their favorite recipes catalogued on computer disks for easy access!

The design or redesign of a kitchen is a significant step. Because of all the components it entails, this is probably the most expensive design job you will undertake in a lifetime, and therefore the one with which you will live the longest.

As a professional, I look to the household’s real eating habits to provide clues to kitchen planning.

Whatever your taste in food and the amount of cooking time you spend preparing it, tell the designer what kind of kitchen will fulfill your dream.

Minimal cooking, for example, requires plentiful storage for convenience food and efficient warming appliances.

Elaborate foods, made from fresh ingredients, dictate a plan with plentiful counterspace and extra sinks and electrical outlets.

The prime consideration for any kitchen of any size is function. Therefore any marriage of style and function must be approached by the pivotal question, "But does it work?"

A second important consideration is a personal taste. Stick to your guns. If you hate country kitsch, don’t listen to your neighbor or be swayed by your designer or magazine articles. You’re the one who will be living with and working in this kitchen. If you aren’t true to yourself and your instincts, your dream will eventually be your nightmare.

Triangulation simply means that the major appliances – stove, refrigerator, and sink – are set at distance from one another to form a perfect triangle. I see this as the most efficient set-up imaginable, with a work area at each major appliance where related tasks are performed: I place the refrigerator near the food preparation area, the range near pot & pan and spice storage, and the sink near preparation and clean-up areas as well as nearby storage.

Putting theory into practice, I recently had the opportunity of redesigning the kitchen area for the Pasadena Showcase house of Design for 1988, a Reginald Johnson showpiece built 60 years ago.

The sheer vastness of the space challenged my concepts of function and efficiency. It almost dared me!

I looked at it – huge, dark pedestrian – and I could envision what I wanted to do with it stylistically. I wanted to bring the modern style of the ‘30s into today and tomorrow — a modern for the ‘90s, giving the curves of the past a modern attitude.

I chose light colored streamlined cabinetry with gently rounded edges and installed floor to ceiling French windows to bring some natural light from the kitchen garden inside.

But my best inspiration was replacing the existing 10’ utility counter with two 4’ islands, one fitted with a cooktop, the other with a sink, creating scaled-down efficiency for snacks and casual meals so no one need run a marathon to make breakfast.

The restaurant range, the refrigerator, and the main sink area were triangulated for workability. In my kitchen within a kitchen, the cooktop and sink triangulated with the main refrigerator, making a triangle within a triangle, so no motion is wasted.

I was able to achieve a proper marriage between form and, so importantly, function, with a kitchen in which caterers could easily prepare a Saturday night dinner for 100 guests, but when the party was over, a family member could comfortably make toast or fry a couple of eggs.

It was efficient, airy, and its steamship curves made it regal, not simply vast, achieving the tribute I had in mind to the great ocean-going liners of a more gracious era.

Because it worked, the hearth was once again the core, the heartbeat of the home, even in a sprawling though stately mansion.

Ron Fields, ASID, is a graduate of the University of Southern California and has received national recognition as a designer of both home and commercial interiors. A past president of the Los Angeles chapter of ASID, he is a popular lecturer, has taught design courses at UCLA and sat on the guidance Committee of its Interior Design School.

NOWADAYS THE CHIC BATHROOM HAS A STEAM BATH, BAR AND TV

June 2, 1982
by Robert Guenther, Staff Reporter, The Wall Street Journal

Most chic kitchens these days have at least a butcher block and a microwave oven, and ideally a ceramic tile floor and indoor gas grill. Now the trendy set is turning its attention to bathrooms. The fashionable bathroom is no longer simply a room for personal hygiene but a "spa" or "leisure center," in the parlance of interior decorators.

The stylish bathroom features a whirlpool bath, bidet, pedestal lavatory and one-piece toilet. The truly memorable bath might have a Japanese soaking tub, a steam bath or even a bar, complete with a TV set and videocassette recorder.

Strong interest in such luxuries showed up in some 1980 market research done for American-Standard Inc., a maker of bath fixtures. Those interviewed were 25- to 50-year-old homeowners with incomes in excess of $35,000, and they said they preferred European-style bathrooms, especially those with sleek Italian lines.

Says Susan Weinthal, who markets New York City condominiums: "I think this all comes from our concerns about identity. One can put one’s statement in a bathroom. So people try to do something a little unique with them."

Mindful of this, builders are making bathrooms larger and are offering a wider choice of fixtures. Since buyers will spend about one-third of their day in the master suite, builders say that sales efforts shouldn’t neglect the master bathroom.

Luxury bath fixtures still account for only 5% of the U.S. market versus 10% to 20% in Western Europe. But American-Standard believes luxury products are going to be hot sellers. Richard Mather, a group vice president, expects luxury bath product sales to double in the next five years. In 1981, luxury products accounted for 10% of the company’s sales and 20% of its profits.

American-Standard expects to sell about 80,000 whirlpool baths this year, quadruple the number it was selling three years ago.

All these new fixtures require more money and more space than the traditional bathroom has needed. Some people are even moving walls to accommodate whirlpool baths, which can be as large as six feet by five feet and 20 inches deep.

Ron Fields, a Los Angeles interior designer, says, "A bathroom is by far the most costly room in a house to do on a dollar-per-square-foot basis." Mr. Fields says he’s talking with one client who wants a whirlpool, sauna and steam room. He adds, "On a 200 square foot bathroom, you could spend $40,000 to $50,000."

 

ASID VIEWPOINT: TAKE NOTICE OF THE PUBLIC’S FASCINATION WITH ART

Published in Designer's Specifier
by Joy E. Adcock, National President, American Society of Interior Designers, Director of Design Services, Michigan State University, East Lansing

Over the course of the past few years, we have watched art assume an increasing significance in people’s lives. More and more people are visiting are museums and galleries. Regardless of whether they are collectors, people want to learn about art because art has the irresistible power to capture their interest; whether their taste lies in Old Masters, French Impressionists, or Contemporary Abstracts – oils, watercolors or prints.

When Vincent Van Gogh’s "Sunflowers" sold at Christie’s for just short of $40 million, it shocked even the most sophisticated member of the art world. While this is certainly not indicative of the average collector, it illustrates an awakening desire to experience art as a vital element of today’s interiors. The public’s desire to establish a sense of individualism in their homes and to bring a human factor to their work place has fueled this renaissance. People recognize that art can transform their functional space into a warm and welcoming world.

Designers regard art as an important vehicle of self-expression for their clients. As the range of clients utilizing the services of interior designers has grown, so have the design solutions in the professional’s repertoire to meet the needs of these new design clients and their respective lifestyles. We have added the names of artists and craftsmen to our rolodex of resources; recruiting the skills and talents of artists, sculptors, ceramists and wood workers to achieve the look this new breed of client seeks.

While the public’s sophistication and knowledge about art has increased, many people have indicated to me and to my colleagues their uncertainty about their part and the designer’s role in the selection of art items for residential and commercial settings. To answer that question, I have asked a colleague, Ron Fields, ASID, to join me this month to provide the public with some insight into this fascinating aspect of the design process.

Ron is a vital and visible member of the design community and his exciting use of art and accessory items can be viewed in a variety of residential and corporate settings around the nation. His firm, Ron Fields Designs in Los Angeles, has handled commercial projects for such clients as the CBS Television Network, 20th Century Fox and American Standard Inc. Clients have included such celebrities as Dinah Shore and Cher. I am pleased to be able to use this forum to introduce the readers of THE DESIGNER to another one of the talented professionals in ASID’s midst.

FINISHING THE CANVAS

Published in Designer's Specifier
by Ron Fields, ASID

Ron Fields, ASID, received a degree in marketing management from, he took several interior design courses later at UCLA, where he is now an instructor. Fields is a past president of the Los Angeles ASID chapter and is still active in the organization. In 1970, he founded his own company, Ron Fields Designs.

Over the course of the past five years, I have seen art move from a position where it was viewed as a nice, but unnecessary frill to one where it has become a staple ingredient in residential and commercial interiors. This open attitude toward art in interiors excites me as I find more and more of my clients mirroring my own art "fever," looking for more and finer art than seen in years past. This shared excitement about the use and variety of forms available allows both designer and client to view art as being as important as any other item in the total design budget.

It is always wise to establish a clearly defined budget in advance, outlining for the client the costs of furnishings, fabrics, art and accessories. Experience has taught me to allocate a certain percentage of the design budget for art, accessories, interior landscaping and lighting from "day one" of the project. These decisions should be made in cooperation with your client to assure both of you that there is an adequate amount allocated for these expense items.

It is equally important at these early meetings to alleviate any concerns clients may express, overtly or not, about the finished look of the project. I have learned over the years that most clients fear a finished interior that looks too contrived: the "model home" look, featuring what clients term "designer art." This concern can be overcome by ascertaining your client’s taste in art – color, form and design.

In addition to inventorying my clients’ existing furnishings, I comb through their art and collectibles. This inventory allows us to make decisions on what items will find a home in the new space and what repairs or additions should be made to existing items. I have found that many clients will not wish to retain all the items in their present collection, feeling perhaps that they’ve outgrown some items or perhaps were never really comfortable with an item in the first place.

While I’m working on the rest of the space, I keep my eyes open for art that would be appropriate for the room. I prefer to wait until the installation is complete before I go out and make my art decisions – choosing to finish my canvas with these added brush strokes. I am very involved in the contemporary arts community and can lend this appreciation and awareness to my clients by taking them to the galleries and the artists’ studios I think most appropriate to their tastes. Other clients have preferences for favorite artists and express a desire for pieces from their collections.

As a side note, let me point out that not all my "art" ends up on the wall. When it lends itself to the vocabulary of the project, I like to use furniture as art. Classic pieces, such as those designed by Mies Van der Rohe, Hoffman, Mackintosh, as well as contemporary pieces from Italy and here in the U.S. are just as viable to me as art items.

My own preferred style is to let clients live with these art items for a few days in their newly designed space. I leave my choices with them – on approval – providing them with price lists outlining the costs of each piece in their new setting.

I have found that this style works best for my clients as it enables them to really test how the various items in the space work in relationship to each other. After a few days I go back for their reactions and decisions – refining and polishing the finished project.

This system works for me and has proved a mutually satisfying partnership with my clients. I hope the advice proves useful to the readers of THE DESIGNER.

 
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