What you may know about Melinda Clark is that her design work is nothing short of genius. What you may not know is that she has a black belt in karate AND some pretty slick cheerleading skills.
Let’s back up and get to know this fearless wonder.
Click on an image below to see more photos of Melinda.
Q. When did you know you wanted to be a designer?
I think all my familial and childhood experiences combined are the source of my passion.
I was an artistic and creative child. I have a passion for restaurant design and enjoy cooking or throwing a party. I think it may be in my genes. My grandparents/ aunt/ uncle were restaurant owners. My dad’s mom/ aunt were bakers and good ole’ southern cooks. They owned several mom and pop restaurants when I was a child. It was a place where our family would meet and hang out. It seemed a very natural place where we’d all to come together with friends and family. My dad, uncle and cousin were all in the construction and/ or engineering field. My father was an artist and my mother is also extremely artistic and crafty. She was a teacher and is now a social worker and did ceramics on the side during my childhood. My mother is a vegetarian and her parents are organic and they both love to cook very healthy foods.
The love for restaurants, construction and design…along with teaching – it’s in my blood! It’s in my DNA and only seems to only make sense that I fell into both design and restaurant love.
Q. Where do you find your design inspiration? What is your personal style?
I find more of my inspiration coming out of London right now and the fashion-forward thinking. My personal style is probably a little eclectic.
I renovated my kitchen and bathroom which are both more clean-lined and modern. I designed both areas and we did much of the work ourselves. However, I have some furniture pieces that are more traditional and high-lacquered – Hollywood regency style pieces. My dream would be to have a super goopy traditional home oversees on the beach with all modern Italian furniture.
Q. What are your hobbies outside of your work? What can we find you doing on the weekend?
I enjoy weight-lifting. Walking my dogs. We’ve been doing landscaping – building a retaining wall and installed raised garden planters. I’ve been gardening a LOT this year. I love the beach, lake and mountains. I’m an outdoorsy person and love team sports. Whether is skiing, jumping on a snowmobile or jet-ski…or going to a shooting range. I’m up for most any sport.
Q. How do you feel your garden at home connects you with the F&B world, and F&B design?
Growing my own garden is relaxing and also allows me to watch something I cultivate grow. Using fresh vegetables, fruits, and herbs is only a plus. It makes me excited to cook. I’m not-so-patiently waiting for them to grow. I go out every day and take a look. It also reminds me who it’s not easy. It takes a lot of care. I also planted some of my favorite flowers. To be able to cut fresh flowers for your home is something I’ve always dreamed of. They are slowly taking off and I cut my first fresh calla lilies last week. They last a lot longer.
Q. Down to business: How do you see emerging technology influencing hospitality and F&B design?
Technology is an expectation. It’s the solar panel on your house, the Tesla you drive, or the smartphone/TV.
Technology is also a stressor. As technology becomes a way of life we never imagined, I think we’ll be designing spaces for the lack of technology. We’ll be trying to find areas off the grid – where technology doesn’t exist. This will become a new luxury. People need a refuge from all the hustle of the world. When I go on vacation, I go to get away from the stresses of the world. I don’t want to completely fall off the map, but I do want the opportunity to leave it all behind – to relax and unwind. Enjoy the environment and people with whom I’m surrounded. It’s the only true way to restart. I think more and more people will be moving toward the idea of technology-free zones.
Q. What are the most exciting projects you are working on currently? Ones you have completed that you are most proud of?
Current Restaurant Design –
Currently, I’m working with Omni Hotels, Dallas Cowboys and chef Nick Badovinus for a restaurant in Omni Frisco called Neighborhood Services. Nick is a well-known chef who owns several successful restaurants in DFW (Neighborhood Services, Montlake Cut, and Town Hearth). This project is quite similar to Barter. We’ve had a hands-on experience with Nick and his team. This is a slightly different venture for NHS as Nick has never opened a hotel restaurant or specialized in breakfast and room service. He is very passionate about design and has worked closely with our office to ensure the feeling, lighting, noise level, etc. is on point to ensure the success of the restaurant.
Current Hotel Design –
- Conrad Doha – It’s a 5 star project. Modern and sophisticated design. I’ve been working with Michael Crosby in our office, who is an amazing designer/architect and mentor. His passion for design is contagious and it’s hard not to be excited when you are working with a team that truly loves design. It’s not just a job that you have to complete, it’s a lifestyle and an art.
- Omni Frisco – this hotel is a once in a lifetime experience. It’s local and it’s with the Dallas Cowboys! The design of the hotel blends Omni, the Cowboys and Frisco as the Frisco Motto is Progress in Motion. I’ve attached the design narrative I wrote above. The design is not in your face, Dallas Cowboys. The theme is in the details. Whether it’s the abstract lighting X’s and 0’s like a football play book or the artwork coming from the Dallas Cowboys personal archives…every space will have a touch of football inspiration.
Notable Past Projects –
- Surf club restaurant concept development – My interest in design started quite a long time ago when I spent some time in Australia working at Bligh Voller Nield. I was on a project with a principal and an outside consultant to concept a surf club restaurant. This was my first real experience out of the gate with restaurant design. It was a collaborative, energetic, creative and a very intimate experience. I had an amazing mentor Shane Thompson, who at the time was the principal at BVN (and now has his own company). He took me under his wing while there.
- MiLa Restaurant in NOLA – My next memorable experience was at Leo A Daly. The project was Renaissance Pere Marquette in New Orleans. My design director came from an F&B background. Not only was she an extremely talented designer, she guided me through the basic understanding of design layout and function. The importance of how the wait staff, lighting, food, service, and kitchen would/should function. On this project we worked with a famous chef (at the time) – Allison Vines-Rushing – Restaurant called MiLa. At one point, it was on the top 10 list of restaurants in NOLA. We received an ASID design award for this project. (I still have them sitting in my office at home J)
- Barter Restaurant – At WA, I worked on Barter Restaurant with celebrity chef Tim Love. This was a local project were we had the opportunity to work with owner Patrick Halbert and celebrity chef Tim Love. This project wasn’t associated to a hotel. Our team was not only involved in the interior design and architecture, but also the menu design, signage/graphics, uniforms, and even brainstormed with the client on the name of the restaurant. This project really drove home my interest in restaurant specific projects. As much as I love hospitality…the restaurant projects are fast paced, quick turnaround, more detailed, specific/themed and truly allow the designer the opportunity to get down and dirty with the client/chef using a holistic design process and approach.