Designer Crush: Steve Pallrand, Founder and Principle of Home Front Build
1. What’s the origin story of Home Front Build?
 
I come from an architectural history and art background so when I moved to California to go to CalArts I fell in love with the variety of architectural styles found in Los Angeles. Not only was LA the birthplace of the Mission & Spanish Colonial Revival styles, but also the American Craftsman movement with the Greene & Green homes as well as the iconic mid-century modern styles of Neutra and company. But it doesn’t stop there. We have rich examples of East Lake Victorian, East Coast Shingle style as well as the West Coast variant, Storybook style, Georgian Revival, Mediterranean Revival, examples of the International movement even Googie style! For someone who loved architectural history driving around LA is like touring through a veritable museum of American domestic and commercial styles.  Our downtown movie palaces, still intact, rival the palaces of Europe in their decorative styles.   
 
I began my career in LA in the movie industry designing and building sets but soon moved out of the two dimensional world to working exclusively with three dimensions mostly because I prefer to work with one’s physical relationship to space and how one moves through it, rather than just a two dimensional representation. 
 
2. What differentiates Home Front Build from others in the industry?
 
Architects and designers don’t have crews that build and most contractors that build just use sub-contractors. We not only have architects and interior designers on staff but a full complement of tradesmen as well. Combining designers with the tradespeople has led to a richer understanding of design possibilities.  Also of course since we build every day and design every day we know exactly how much a design will cost so that the design process never gets out of line with the client’s budget. 
 
3. What’s your process for getting to know a client’s personality and goals?
 
Visiting a client’s current residence is important for seeing how they live. Most important is the kitchen as that is the place to glean the most information on lifestyle, how much they cook, how organized or unorganized they are.  But design is not so much about where or how the clients live currently, rather it is about aspiration, where and how they want to live because if their place was perfect there would be no impetus to change.  Aspirations can only be discussed at the project site where one can see how the clients respond to the site and its potential, where the light comes in or could, how one moves through the current place and how one could alter the experience, how the house interacts with the exterior.
 
4. What are some design trends you love in 2018? Any you hate?
 
Thank goodness color is back. The Modernist Movement destroyed our ability to appreciate color and slowly, slowly people are realizing that beige is not a color.  Also we are done with brass.  A brass living finish that patinas is fine, but please, no more brass fittings just pick gold or move on.   
 
5. What are some of the ways Home Front Build remains eco-conscious?
 
We like to say there are no eco-friendly designs, only eco-friendly users. A house, an apartment, a condo, a shack, is only as eco-friendly as the user.  Sure one can use recycled materials in a countertop but we find it more important to understand the lifestyle of the user so that we can incorporate the most useful eco-conscious designs for them. It is a complete waste of time to design something that is eco-friendly if it is under-utilized.  Tankless hot water systems are very energy efficient but less so if you have to let the water run while you wait for the hot water. A gray water system makes sense but not if you don’t wash with hippy soaps. A whole house fan is a great way to cool a house down by pulling in cooler nighttime air but not if you live in an area with higher pollution levels. 
 
Describe a particularly memorable/challenging project.
 
Once we had to covert a commercial space that was used as an outlet for porn videos to a live/work artist studio. Changing the address of the building proved to be the most important part of the project because of all the requests for entertainment content!
 
6. How do you define “California style”?
 
The reason designers, thinkers, entertainers, filmmakers, chefs come to California is the freedom to create.  There are less restrictive traditional values here and with the intense mix of cultural traditions new ideas and trends are born here.  California is the wetlands of design and thought, it is the intersection of major forces, the intense mix of immigrant cultural traditions with modernity, where new ideas and trends are evolving like new species of plants and animals.  Korean tacos were born here, apps to utilize your driveway as parking, designs that address our need for community and connection to the environment. 
 
Lightning round!
 
7. Pizza or sushi? 
 
Pizza, but with nettles or something new, pizza as a platform for discovery.
 
8. Sunrise or sunset? 
 
Sunrise, it is about potential, awakening.
 
9. High fashion or thrift store find? 
 
 
Barney’s rack, the happy medium
 
10. Netflix or night out? 
 
Night out, but that can include a walk around the neighborhood
 
11. Literary classic or beach read? 
 
I can’t get past the news, fiction is outdated, the present is too compelling.