I'm a Baltimore native, raised on the water, the son of a creative, visionary father and a 'there's no project I can't tackle' mother. They encouraged my own potential creativity, letting me experiment with construction, space and organization from an early age. While still in college at The Maryland Institute College of Art, I met my first partner, Leslie Bates, who had just left Skidmore, Owings and Merrill in Chicago, to head Interiors at RTKL Baltimore. His Modernist influence balanced my continuing study abroad, through Syracuse University in Florence Italy: the pre-architecture curriculum there sharpened my understanding of various forms of Classicism, and Italian Vernacular architecture. I graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Interior Design, in 1989.
From 1989 until 2001, I worked as a staff designer, then as Associate, at Dvorine Associates in Baltimore. Arleen Dvorine's vision: rich, 'complete', luxurious design, with an emphasis on custom work, has had a major influence on my understanding of color and scale harmony, and on exacting standards of detailing in general. This relationship happily continues: I am now an independent consultant to her firm.
In 2001, I launched Joseph Lazzaro as an independent designer, so that I might provide design services for a wider range of potential project types: from the traditional 'full service style' client's needs, to value oriented services for what was, at that time, the developing 'DIY style' client. Today, I continue to successfully work with clients having a wide range of involvement styles, tastes, and budgets.
In 2010, I was fortunate to be selected to join the Attingham Summer School Program. It is one of the most respected organizations for the study of English country house history, culture & design. With the program I toured and studied thirty English country houses and their gardens- an intense and rewarding month. It has greatly improved my understanding of a main historical source of American traditional architecture.
I have served as a consultant on the Architectural Review Board of Baltimore's Mount Vernon Belvedere Improvement Association, to help ensure sensitive preservation and sensible growth in the traditional heart of the city.
And, as of 2012, my primary design studio is in San Francisco, California, with a secondary, relocated studio in Baltimore Maryland.
Designers generally break down into two types: those whom you engage to purchase their 'look', and those whose first goal is to express the style of you, the client. I fall squarely into the second category. I believe that, when your project is finished, it should look as if a 'designer' wasn't involved; that you happened to put everything together yourself, that it fits your needs perfectly and expresses your style effortlessly. As you look through my portfolio you'll see, illustrated, the diversity of my clients' personalities.
I've mentioned my design approach of 'client first', and the range of styles in which I'm capable of working; supporting this flexibility are a number of skills I'd like to mention, that help to create a superior project-
I have a clear understanding of space, and the ability not only to re-imagine it to suit my clients' needs, but to illustrate the finished product with rendered 'room views'. These have proven tremendously helpful- see 'How It Happens' for examples of these.
I provide a complete range of interior design services, and I give my clients the flexibility to choose which services would be optimal for them, relative to their desired involvement in the design/coordinating/purchasing process, and relative to the various scopes of work, deadlines and budgets defining their projects. For a complete list of services, see 'How It Happens'.
The traditionally arranged, 'design fee + percentage of merchandise' design firm tends to limit where designers, and hence clients, may select merchandise. My 'time only' working arrangement allows clients a wide range of source options. From designer source items, to items they might order online themselves; from any of the specialized trades with whom I work, to any they might choose to use, my clients are able to work directly- additionally saving them the normal markup of traditional design firms.
Because I am a small firm, I am able to work efficiently on the total project, with a personal involvement in all phases of work.
Finally, I bring 25 years of design experience to your project- in creativity, practical problem solving, budgeting, coordination and installation- my experience in the field enhances your design, and streamlines its becoming reality.