Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Dirk Olsen Photo Shoot { Model Portfolio ~ Jenna Pegelow }

Coming into a photo shoot for the first time, I did learn studio lighting and how to actually use the settings on my camera (I’m only slightly embarrassed to admit that since, thanks to Dirk, my photos have vastly improved since then), but I would have never expected to come away cherishing the people I got to know or seeing a much deeper side to them. As with most people that I've featured, their talent sparks the initial contact, but, in the process, I gain an unexpected friend. For that, I’m eternally grateful for this humble little blog.

Using “humble” just then, though it probably contradicted its meaning, only speaks to its recognition of often undiscovered impressive talent or genuine heart. With Dirk, you’ll find both. I’ve written before that yes, he’s unarguably talented, but he’s also one of the nicest people you’ll have the pleasure of meeting. This second trait is often neglected in measuring success. There’s the illusion that monetary gains, public popularity, and peer recognition define success, but just treating people well and inspiring them, that’s pure gold.

Dirk, as portrait photographer, often shoots model portfolios. This particular photo shoot for model Jenna Pegelow was a year ago but has finally come together to share incredible images by Dirk and more importantly to share Jenna’s perspective. Scroll down to see my behind-the-scenes shots, the final images by Dirk, and Jenna’s story.

Jenna’s Story

"I'm very selective with who I'll pay to work with. Most of my portfolio is actually built off of TF (trade) shoots, so, I really have to feel a need for a photographer's creativity to pay for a shoot. I had added Dirk as a friend on Model Mayhem shortly after I moved to Middle Tennessee from WNY over 2 years ago, and admired his work for months before I contacted him about a shoot. I'm located in the Nashville area, and he is located just outside of Memphis, so I knew it'd be a mini-trip if I decided to shoot with him. With all things considered, Dirk gave me a very reasonable rate, and stayed in touch with me on a regular basis... bouncing ideas off of me, and I him up until the shoot.

Before I moved to Tennessee, I was a paid model. Most of my income came from paid gigs. After the move, I waited to get settled into my surroundings before I started looking for photographers to update my Portfolio with. And then not long after that, it happened. December 11th, 2009 my Mom passed away of complications due to stage 3bLung Cancer and the chemo treatments she was receiving. My whole world was turned upside down, and I just totally fell of the wagon. Coming back from that was hard, but I knew I had to do it. I had to do it for her - that’s what she would want. So, finding the right photographer to kick start things was no longer just important, it was crucial. And I knew Dirk was THE photographer.

I was incredibly nervous driving to Collierville. The entire time I was just thinking... "Am I really ready for this? I'm NOT in the shape I used to be in... What is he going to think of me? What if I'm awful after all this time?" Upon arriving at the studio, I felt a sense of relief. Dirk was there to greet me with warm smile. I told him my story, and I could sense the genuine interest and concern he held. I think knowing my story both encouraged and enabled him to capture me at my best, because the images were beautiful! I can't even begin to explain the sense of relief I felt once I saw them. My favorite image is definitely the image in my red dress. Not only is it my favorite from the shoot, but it's definitely in my top 3 images ever taken. I'd like to believe that says a lot, due to the wide range of talent I've had the honor to collaborate with."

Dirk Olsen Photography

Top left and bottom group of three images by Dirk Olsen. Location: Mike Trobee Studios and Collierville town square. Graphics by Sophorn. Wardrobe: model's own. Hair/make-up by Anna Bearman.

Monday, August 29, 2011

{ Upcoming }The World in a Skillet

It was an honor to work with food writers Paul and Angela Knipple for their upcoming book "The World in a Skillet" that tells the stories of first generation immigrants bringing a taste of their culture to the South. We chose to photograph their portraits for the book at no other than Casablanca with the great food and interior wall colors. Look for their book out March 2012. Read more on Paul and Angela's blog here. / Thanks Paul and Angela! Thanks also to Aimer for being so accommodating and even suggesting photo ideas.

Photo above by Sophorn of the Tagin, part of the food props for Paul and Angela's photos that I may show soon.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

foodiememphis at Buon Cibo {Sneak Peek}

The amazing sampling we had last night of the best that Buon Cibo had to offer showed off the advantages of eating out with the foodiememphis dinner group, but envy of all envies had to be the phenomenal tiramisu that Katie, co-owner in charge of desserts, made just for our group. / Thanks so much Josh, Katie, the rest of the Buon Cibo staff, and Christopher for organizing such a great meal. Everyone is welcome to join the group. Go to the facebook page for the latest info. Full review to come soon on the foodiememphis blog.

Photos/graphics by Sophorn. Buon Cibo is just a short drive from Memphis in Hernando, MS. I tag "memphis restaurant" to anything I want to feed to the Where the Locals Eat site.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Lunch Date with Becky { The Brass Door }

The first thing you may notice about my good friend Becky are her adorable dimples but let me just point out her right shoulder. That shoulder, I’ve found recently, is a very, very comfortable shoulder to cry on. Becky, seeing me through a tough time, actually wanted to listen to my problems, and suggested we meet again for lunch. The Brass Door was the place I chose to meet post emotional outpour.

Meeting good friends, making new ones – it’s what I’ve realized is the reality of most visits to a restaurant. Not always just to try out the food. As I’m veering away from a pure food review, realizing that restaurants are the intersection of food, architecture, and conversation, where most of the conversation is not just about the food but life in general, I’ll try to reflect that insight in my writing from now on.

When I went through the interior architecture program, the most fascinating project involved learning about restaurant/culinary school design after learning about food/cooking first. We all focused on the history of food and the entire food culture near the beginning but it soon led into designs where the fascination centered more on the gathering of family, friends, and strangers and how the spaces were designed to support and even engage this communal activity.

That idea actually stuck with me even till my last year in architecture school as evidenced in my thesis statement about fashion and architecture, which I would never have expected to show up in a food posting.

“Architecture has become this environment, a background of sorts, that allows social interaction to take place and be observed, but it is these very functions of fashion that can be embraced by architecture. No longer just a stage for the drama of culture to be viewed but also as an interactive art that intervenes in the way we see the world, the way we see ourselves in the world, and the way we see others, watching partly but also communicating interactively. Architecture can also touch the most personal side of us.”

The Brass Door exemplified this statement in physical terms – the long string of tables allowed for conversation with strangers and the natural light streaming from the high windows illuminated the food and everyone so beautifully they became somewhat irresistible. Becky and I became lost in our conversation only commenting on how delicious the sliders and “chips” were. Nothing was a distraction, which, in my eyes, is a mark of the restaurant’s success.

I won’t go into the exact personal details of our conversation but I might, just might, share it with you in person if you treat me out to another visit to the Brass Door.

Becky is the volunteer coordinator for Habitat for Hope, an amazing group of people. / And just for fun and since I actually had forgotten what the building looked like before the Brass Door, I posted below a film photo I took a couple of years ago -The Marx & Bensdorf Building as Madison Tobacco Shop.

The Brass Door
152 Madison Ave.
Memphis, TN 38103
Ph +1.901.572.1813

The Brass Door on Urbanspoon

Photos by Sophorn.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Rock for Love 5 / Story Spotlight No. 2

Today's story by Jeff Hulett spotlights young Katie Lipsey, another Church Health Center patient. It's hard not to read this and get a little emotional. / Help the Church Health Center help people like Katie by supporting Rock for Love. Music continues tonight and into the weekend with a free 5:30pm show at the Cooper-Young Gazebo and 9 pm at the Hi-Tone where Jeff and his band Glorie will perform. Can't make it to the music? You can also visit the silent auction to bid here. Do it, will ya?


What do you remember most about being a kid? Most people think about playing outside with friends, eating ice cream and thinking life is easy.

For Church Health Center patient Katie Lipsey, she doesn’t remember life being easy at all. Instead, she remembers the pain of watching her parents get divorced, losing her father to renal-cell cancer and being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, which did not run in her family. All this before her 10th birthday.

“After the shock of my parents’ divorce and losing my father to cancer, I found myself with this new medical problem I had to learn about and live with,” Katie said. “It’s not something a 9-year-old should have to go through, but those are the cards I was dealt.”

How do you tell a child they can’t enjoy candy on Halloween, or cake and ice cream at a birthday party? Worse still was Katie having to explain her disease to her classmates, who teased her endlessly.

“It wasn’t easy explaining why I had to have frequent shots, eat snacks often and sit out of P.E. class if I wasn’t feeling well,” said Katie. “Kids can be cruel when you’re different, so it was no surprise when my friends were hesitant to play with me for fear of catching my diabetes.”

Katie’s hardships didn’t stop there. She lost her mother in 2005 to a very preventable staff infection following heart-valve replacement surgery.

Over the years, she learned to manage her health and educate herself and others about every aspect of her diabetes. Katie, now 26, credits a lot of her diabetes education and training to Church Health Center volunteer diabetes educator B.J. Cline. In fact, Katie is even considering going into diabetes education as a career.

Living with diabetes is difficult, but there are tools that help make dealing with it easier. Insulin pumps are expensive, but they help manage blood glucose levels and deliver what is referred to as a bolus dose of rapid-acting insulin to help the body process a meal or snack.

Katie received the first of several insulin pumps at age 15 and grew to rely on them to help her maintain her diabetes. To her, having an insulin pump meant having freedom. “I hated taking needle shots, so to be able to leave them at home instead of sticking myself in public was a blessing, not to mention the freedom to eat and bolus at will was something I always wanted,” said Katie.

Last year, Katie’s insulin pump started acting up. At first, it wouldn’t allow her to change the batteries without setting off an alarm. Then, the buttons started sticking, which made it nearly impossible to give herself a bolus dose.

She called the company to see about getting a replacement, but her warranty had just expired. The company told her she could have a loaner pump, but it had to be returned in three months.

“There was a lot of red tape involved in applying for the loaner pump, and the stress of finding the money to pay for one or the thought of going back on needle therapy was enough to make me crazy,” Katie said. “I was depressed and on the brink of giving up.”

At the Church Health Center, we try our best not to let our patients leave with a problem they can’t solve, and we pride ourselves on being good listeners. RN Case Manager Jean Reed overheard Katie telling volunteer endocrinologist Dr. Sonia Guerra about her troubles, and she was filled with compassion. Jean had worked with Katie before, so she knew how much she depended on her insulin pump. Maybe, just maybe, we had one in storage that someone had donated, she thought.

“I asked a couple of Clinic Assistants to check our storage space across the street,” Jean said. “We welcome donations of any kind and, while I thought it was unlikely we would have one, it was worth a shot.”

Amazingly, they found a brand new insulin pump.

“It’s as if the planets aligned for her, and with God’s guidance, helped it all happen for her,” Jean said. “Plus, Katie did her part, making phone calls to the company and following up as instructed.”

Some people call it fate, and others call it luck. We at the Church Health Center call it God’s grace, and you don’t have to work here long to see it, or be a conduit for it.

A kind person thinks to donate an insulin pump. A staff member gets to know a patient’s story and looks for a way to be helpful. Then, a woman in need who hasn’t caught many breaks in life finally gets one when she needs it most.

“When I heard the good news, I felt the weight of the world come off of my shoulders,” Katie said. “That was the biggest feeling of relief and gratitude I’ve felt in a long time.”

“God won’t put something in front of you that you can’t get through, and I’m so thankful for the family of healthcare professionals who came together and made this miracle possible,” she said. “I would like to thank Jean Reed for listening to me and helping me, B.J. Cline for checking in on me, Dr. Guerra for managing my insulin pump orders, and all of the other folks who played a part in this. This is a true blessing, and I will be forever grateful.”

With your continued support, we will continue to care for people like Katie and help them get through life’s problems. We will continue to be a place where people listen and allow God’s everyday miracles to take place.

If you have any unused medical equipment that you would like to donate to help change someone’s life, please call (901) 272-7170 for more information. 

Photo via Jeff Hulett, Church Health Center

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Rock for Love 5 / Story Spotlight No. 1

Do you know what happens when love is genuine? It can conquer any hardship and will grow into something beyond anyone's expectation. Now in its fifth year, the Rock for Love benefit concerts have had growing success year after year because the love for its cause is truly genuine. In the last few years, I've helped promote the concert by interviewing the musicians involved in the coordination and the performances but this year wanted to focus on the people benefiting from all this love - the patients of the Church Health Center. Jeff Hulett sent me two inspiring stories he wrote for the CHC newsletter that I wanted to reshare here today. Read the first story below, and come out to support Rock for Love starting tonight at the Hi-Tone.


“This is when it hit me that I was in a place of healing, and it was time for me to fight my illness,” she said. “You can’t let your illness conquer you. You conquer it.”

When it comes to sisterly love, Levorida and Mironda Rollins are like two peas in a pod. They are inseparable. So much so, that they’re often asked if they’re twins. Mironda is the older sister by four years, but they act more like best friends than sisters.

“We have our differences,” said Mironda – she attends Living Life In Victory Ministries church while her sister attends Greater Imani – “but we are tight.”

The sisters live together in north Memphis with five boys ranging in ages from 7 to 14. Levorida has two boys and Mironda has three. In fact, it was their boys who lead them to Church Health Center Wellness. The boys came here last summer for church camp and just raved about how great it was.

Their doctors had also encouraged them to join, so the two agreed to give it a try, and now they’re very glad they did. Members since last June, the sisters have not only made great strides, they have found a supportive community that has helped them make healthy, positive changes.

“Everybody is focused on doing better here,” Levorida said. “When you first walk through these doors and see these pretty smiles, it does something to you. It’s like one big, happy family here.”

Being in community with others headed in the same direction means the sisters are also inspiring others around them to take their health more seriously and embrace healthy changes.

With such positive, can-do attitudes, you’d probably be surprised to know that both of them are struggling with serious health issues.

In April 2008, Levorida was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had surgery, went through chemotherapy and radiation, but unfortunately the treatments led to even more health problems, including avascular necrosis (deterioration of the bone), kidney disease, liver problems and digestive issues.

“When you find out you have breast cancer, it’s devastating,” said Levorida. “I was only 30 years old and I thought I might have to lose one of my breasts. I wasn’t married, and I wondered if anyone would have me. Would I have the support I needed to make it through it?”

Levorida has already had two hip replacements, and once she gets back from her family reunion this summer, she plans to have knee replacements in both legs as well.

This is the point in the story where you well up and say, “My God, the poor woman.”


The Rollins sisters, who are not the self-pitying types, say they draw their strength from God.

“When life gets hard, God puts everyone that you need to get through it in your path,” said Levorida. “This place is such a blessing.”

In September 2008, on the heels of Levorida’s breast cancer diagnosis, Mironda was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

Multiple sclerosis, or MS, is an autoimmune disease that affects the brain and spinal cord of the central nervous symptom. MS is caused by damage to the myelin sheath, the protective covering that surrounds nerve cells. When this nerve covering is damaged, nerve impulses are slowed down or stopped. Symptoms vary, because the location and severity of each attack can be different. Episodes can last for days, weeks, or even months.

“It snuck up on me,” Mironda said. “The first couple of months I was in denial and didn’t know what to do. I lost my job and was looking for answers.”

Mironda was also going through a divorce and was worried about how she was going to take care of her children. Thankfully, she had the support of her family and her faith community, but she still struggled to make sense of all that was happening in her life. She was looking for anything that would help her remain positive and moving forward.

That’s when she saw it.

“Be faithful. Be focused. Be connected” right there on the Church Health Center Wellness Sports Court bulletin board she’d passed hundreds of times before. The message changes almost every day, but this day was different… it was as if it had been written just for her.

“This is when it hit me that I was in a place of healing, and it was time for me to fight my illness,” she said. “You can’t let your illness conquer you. You conquer it.”

Thankfully, Levorida and Mironda have a great team of doctors that care for them, all of whom have encouraged them to work on their health goals at Church Health Center Wellness.

More and more doctors in our community are starting to realize that Church Health Center Wellness is a great place to send their patients who need extra hand-holding to make lasting changes. After all, we are the only certified Medical Fitness Facility in the city. That means we have staff trained in helping people with chronic diseases exercise safely.

One such staffer is Wellness Education Coordinator Amber Weed, who has worked with Levorida and Mironda through our Healthy Bodies weight loss and weight management program. Weed says she is inspired by their positive attitudes amidst such trying circumstances in their lives.

“They were both so successful because of their open mindedness about learning how to live healthier lives,” Weed said. “They’re always friendly, and I always enjoy seeing them around the Center.”

Once they went through Healthy Bodies, the Rollins sisters immediately started attending the community cooking classes on Thursdays, where Church Health Center Wellness Education Coordinator and chef Carolyn Nichols encourages participants to introduce healthier foods and ingredients into the household setting.

“We bring a lot of the recipes we cook in class home to the family,” Levorida said.

“The boys love them, especially the fruit crepes and corn casserole,” Mironda added.

Nichols said the classes are popular with lots of members, including the sisters. “In the kitchen we make changes to everyday recipes people are familiar with. We incorporate healthy, economical ingredients while ensuring the food tastes great.”

After cooking class is over, Levorida and Mironda usually head upstairs to our sports court, where they walk around the track, stretch and then exercise on the elliptical machines.

They also talk and visit with other members and friends they’ve met along the way.

“You hear people’s stories and share your own stories and it encourages you to keep going,” said Mironda. “Working out here is good for us because it releases a lot of our stress and takes our minds off of things for awhile.”

Let’s face it, struggling with two debilitating diseases while raising a family is no easy task, and everyone needs an outlet to release stress.

“Raising five boys is hard, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” said Levorida. “You’ve got to be positive and not let your mind get so overwhelmed.”

Things have gotten better for both sisters as they continue to seek treatment and work on becoming healthier and stronger. They continue to test new recipes from the Church Health Center kitchen at home and share their experiences with family and friends.

The Church Health Center is much more than a clinic, and our wellness center is much more than your average gym. We are proud that our members have told us that “spiritual guidance,” “compassion” and “being a safe-haven for my kids” are reasons why they come to Church Health Center Wellness.

“Coming here with my sister – it’s our thing – we started as a team and we’re not going to stop until we reach our goals,” said Levorida. “Always look for the light at the end of the tunnel. We’re doing better and we will keep on fighting.”

Photo via Jeff Hulett, Church Health Center. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Guest Music Mix { Jeff Hulett } / Rock for Love 5 Line-Up

Good morning all. To make this week extra bearable (at least for me), super-talented Memphis musician Jeff Hulett, in more bands than anyone I know, has selected this week’s music mix.  Jeff is also the PR and communications coordinator for the Church Health Center (CHC) and co-coordinator of Rock for Love, a benefit concert for the CHC, now in its fifth year. With his newest band Glorie, he’s performing the second night of Rock for Love. 
Enjoy Jeff’s great mix listed with the band name next to each day with his description below. To find out what song he's selected, visit the sidebar music player each day. Thanks Jeff! Don’t forget to head out to Rock for Love 5 starting this Thursday. See the line-up in the poster below and stay tuned for more Rock for Love postings. Going on Now: An online auction for the CHC with really cool local items. Click here to bid.

M / Helio Sequence / This song is a great tune to start out the week. It always puts me in a good mood and helps me get my mind right for the week ahead. 

T / Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers / I picked this tune because it helps me realize that no matter what, everything will work itself out.

W / Balanescu Quartet / This is a Kraftwerk cover that I really want my band Glorie to cover. 

TH / Arcade Fire /
I recently saw them at the Orpheum and I’ve been playing this album non-stop. This tune in particular is a perfect song to get you ready for the weekend. 

F /
R. Kelly / This song always makes me think of being on the road with Snowglobe. I think we all know every word to this jam.

Poster design by Sasha Barr of Sub Pop. Photo of Jeff by Tom Hibdon.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Buon Cibo / Meet the Chef

Click on over to the foodiememphis blog to read Christopher's interview with former Memphis chef Josh Belenchia about his new restaurant venture just down the way in Hernando, Mississippi. They will be hosting the next foodiememphis dinner group gathering August 23rd. Get your tickets today. / We tasted the fig and prosciutto pizza and ham and cheese sandwich with cream cheese and sweet jezebel sauce. They have the sweet and salty combinations perfected!

Photos by Sophorn.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Brass Door ~ Today's Slider Special

My good friend Becky and I tried the newly opened Brass Door today and had the slider special: Grilled Portabello with  Spinach and Red Pepper. Get it before they close tonight (they close at 2 a.m. but I still suggest going soon.) / Thanks so much Becky for the good talk. More photos to come.

Photo by Sophorn

Monday, August 8, 2011

Iconic Design Exhibition + Auction Teaser

I'm helping with more than a handful of Memphis events this fall, but I can honestly say that this design auction for AIA Memphis' 8th Annual Architecture Month on September 24th will be the most unique event I'll find this year or ever. The teaser marketing piece above created with Heather Koury, executive director of AIA Memphis, gives you a small glance into the type of iconic items you'll see and have a chance to own. The chair shown is the Harry Bertoia Diamond Chair donated by Knoll. If you are interested in sponsoring or donating, please contact me or Heather. sophorn [at] hotmail [dot] com or info [at] aiamemphis [dot] org. / The font used for the logo was a careful selection in what defines iconic. We matched Helvetica against Bauhaus, and as you can see Helvetica won in its simplicity and timelessness. (The "c" in the Bauhaus font just annoyed the heck out of me.)

You might also be interested in reading about Heather, the AIA Memphis Chapter, and Architecture Month in the latest RSVP magazine. Click here.

Support Local { Chocistry }

You've probably often heard that Memphis has a great entrepreneurial spirit. It's a statement that's true to the core as I've have never met a Memphian that does not have a full time job and multiple side projects. Well, to further confirm that, I'd like to introduce you to P. Ashley Rix, gourmet chocolatier, working his katoosh off late at night to experiment with unique flavor combinations for his new business venture Chocistry. Please support Chocistry to support our local economy and you'll be rewarded with nothing better - gourmet chocolates.  Click here to pledge today.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Day 1 Highlights { 2011 AIATN Convention }

The Peabody Hotel and Continental Ballroom - Site of the convention and speaker series

Here are several highlights from yesterday's convention events as reminders for the rest of today and tomorrow. I'll be photographing and tweeting for AIATN the entire event. It really has been a blast so far.

Left: Trey Trahan presenting   Right: Will Bruder & random new friend

Committee Co-Chair Joey Hagan and Exhibitor at the Coalesse booth

Silent Auction Items - Be sure to bid today.

Tour fans (the side I designed) and convention attendees waiting for the "party" shuttle.

Photos by Sophorn

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Meet Mayor A.C. Wharton / Mayor of Memphis

Meet Mayor AC Wharton - AIATN2011 from Justin Thompson on Vimeo.

Click above to play the video responses to my interview with Mayor A.C. Wharton to promote Memphis, the host city for this year's AIA Tennessee convention. Over fifteen minutes of mostly fun chatter were edited down to a more focused look into the Mayor's view of the city, impressive because of his understanding of architecture. He spoke about the role of architecture much like architect and convention speaker Brian Mackay-Lyons spoke about fabric architecture healing the city, an often overlooked but important role. / I literally only had 30 seconds to take a "behind the scenes" photo of the Mayor as he prepared to step right into another interview with Fox13. He speaks tomorrow at 8am at the convention welcoming over 400 architects to Memphis. Thanks so much to the Mayor, Kerry Hayes, and Justin Thompson for making this interview happen.  

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tasted ~ LadyBugg Bakery

If you asked me which I liked better - cupcakes or frozen treats, I'd take Atticus' approach and say "both" with a squinty eye that asks why do I even have to choose? This is probably why we love the YoLo Midtown location so much. The frozen yogurt and topping selection plus rotating flavors of gelato and a bakery offering cupcakes, cookies, and now breakfast items are all in one stop.

We tasted LadyBugg Bakery's popular salted caramel cupcake and the pistachio rosewater cupcake. The cake itself was good but the delicious frostings dressed them up so nicely.

LadyBugg Bakery

at YoLo Midtown
6 S. Cooper
Memphis, TN 38104

Photos by Sophorn

LadyBugg Bakery on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 1, 2011

Meet Robert Ivy, CEO of AIA { 2011 AIATN Convention Speaker Series }

Memphis is an amazing array of speakers from across the street and around the world.

Meet Robert Ivy, FAIA / CEO of the American Institute of Architects
Speaking Friday, August 5, 3 – 4:30

In one sentence, how would you describe architecture to those outside the field?
Any building can be just a building but architecture always has more.

Who or what most inspire your creative side? / How do you spark creativity?
As an editor, trying to be creative every day, it’s not about a lightning bolt. It’s slow work that forms into something much like piling up match sticks.

What are you currently reading, whether it be books, magazines, or blogs?
As a writer, I’m an eclectic reader. I’m reading “Ulysses” by James Joyce or should I say trying to read, that choice may make me sound highfalutin. Of course, I read Architectural Record, Architect magazine, blogs like Dezeen, newspapers, the Economist.

Where would you suggest young talented architects use their design talents to make the most impact?
I’m a believer in volunteering. Start as a volunteer doing damage assessment or helping Habitat for Humanity. You’ll meet people and do good. Everything you do and everyone you meet counts.

How do you balance work life and social/family life?
Life is a whole and needs to be whole. If you don’t, you’re cheating yourself. My home is focused on my wife, children, and a quiet garden. It’s also my emotional center where I can relax and work in the garden.

What other hobbies, interests do you have outside of Architecture?
I’m a big reader, gardener though my Mississippi home is probably full of weeds. I run, love the outdoors, and travel all around the world.

I know you have been to Memphis several times before and have family here, correct? What are your current impressions of Memphis?
I do have family there – a first cousin and good friends there too. My daughter used to be in Memphis. One reason I’m visiting is to see the changes in the city. I’ve made short trips before but I really need a long visit.

What are some things you most look forward to in your trip to Memphis? In this response, can you be specific about what exact food you are looking forward to?
It’s a big city. I know it well so it’ll be like coming home. I am looking forward to bbq and southern cooking, the blue plate specials. I love cornbread. I do like chefs that look at traditional cooking with a twist.

Any fellow speaker(s) you look forward to seeing present?
All of them – Brian Mackay-Lyons, Julie Snow, long term colleagues. I look forward to seeing what they’ve been up to.

What can we look forward to in your presentation at the AIA TN convention? I understand that it’ll be a Q & A format with Connie Wallace conducting the interview.
It will be a conversation. Connie has known me a long time and will know where to ask the right questions but I have no idea what kind of questions Connie will ask. It’ll be fun to watch.


We look forward to Robert‘s responses to Connie’s questions. Read more on Robert Ivy in the convention brochure and through the links below.

Magazine Cover via
Twitter @robertivy

Thanks so much Robert, Carolyn and David for making the great phone interview/conversation happen.

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