better living through design: let’s chat!

posted by the scholar on March 20th, 2008
filed under: design, furniture, home accessories, let's chat!, lighting


if you love contemporary design as much as i do, you’ve got a list of places you visit regularly. perhaps you’re familiar with the finds that katie hagar and kris bernard show us on their fabulous website, better living through design. katie, a former product and interior designer (and current editor of the site), and kris, a kitchen and bath design instructor and information technology expert, tirelessly hunt for the most clever, functional and well made products and accessories for our homes. the spare design of their website is a blank canvas for the great breadth of selection featured; it consists of four sections including products, remodeling, books and travel. i appreciate the fact that their personal love affair with design and style grew into a tremendous one-stop resource that we all benefit from. let’s have a chat with katie and kris and find out more!


q: where do you live and where do you work?
a: katie: i live in houston, tx, and i work in my home office/studio.

kris: i live in los angeles, ca (silver lake) and I work in downtown la.


q: how did you meet, and how did bltd come into being?
a: katie: we met in dallas at some art show. i guess we had mutual friends, but it wasn’t until we started talking about architecture did we realize how we both liked the same sort of stuff – that turned into exchanging ideas about floor plans and home design and then kris actually came up with the idea of bltd – she thought it would be a good idea to create a site where we could keep track of all the great products available on the internet.

kris: ditto what katie said, but she left out that we were actually pen pals for a while, which is how we exchanged ideas about our floor plans. i thought that was important to add because it shows how truly nerdy we are about design. as far as how bltd started, i had actually purchased the domain about a year before we started the site. i really liked the feeling that the domain evoked, but i wasn’t sure what i was going to use it for. then somehow the idea struck me to start a website and i asked katie to join me. the funny thing is that we had only really talked in person that one time when i asked her to do it, but now three years and 2500 posts later i probably talk to her everyday.


q: what is your criteria for including pieces on your site?
a: katie: i think it’s fairly intuitive. most of the time the item has to stand out in some way – good design that meets at least one of the following criteria: affordable, useful, or spectacular.

kris: also, it needs to be available for sale online. very rarely do we post anything that’s not available online. we really wanted the site to be a comprehensive resource for anyone who’s looking for the perfect table or wallpaper, etc, so we try to include important design pieces as well as lesser known items that may meet a need for a space.


q: do you have a favorite category? if you do, why is it your favorite?
a: katie: i love home furnishings in general, but i’m quite fond of miscellaneous accessories – i guess because they’re more affordable (usually) and an easy way to make a small change in your surroundings.

kris: my favorite is our new “remodel” section which we launched a few months ago. it’s for people who are looking to make a major change in their space, such as surface treatments like changing flooring or wallpaper, or for remodeling their kitchen or bath. i used to teach kitchen and bath design at the college level, so i’m pretty excited we added that category. i really get giddy over fixtures.


q: can you name a few current design trends that you love?
a: katie: i like the new crop of products that have been designed with sustainability in mind, not just because it’s a trend, but because it’s interesting to see how designers are pushing the boundaries a little, and how manufacturers are more likely to take a chance considering the recent “green” movement.

kris: i’m kind of an urban nomad right now, so i really like the new “flatpack” trend, which is furniture or other items that are easily packable and movable. i also like the modernization of older styles; for example, the digitization of older baroque styles like the pixelated tables by salad industrial in spain.


q: what do you think is the biggest challenge in writing a design website?
a: katie: finding the words to express how i feel about something without reverting to “i love this”, “this is awesome”, “holy”, and “dude, you have to buy this” all the time.

kris: we try to keep it affordable but that’s not always easy. there’s a reason good design is expensive. a great sofa can last 50 years, not only in terms of construction, but also being relevant aesthetically. but not everyone has the budget for that so we try to find the less expensive items too. unfortunately they don’t last as long, and that has an environmental impact. so, i’d say that’s my biggest challenge: trying to meet the needs of all our readers’ budgets but at the same time trying to strike a balance between providing enough interesting content but making sure the pieces are relevant.


q: can you finish this sentence? the future of design…
a: katie: looks promising.

kris: looks exciting! i can’t wait to see what people come up with next.


like-minded design connoisseurs can hop on over to bltd and see lots more substantial picks. i don’t think you’ll be disappointed!


thank you katie and kris!

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3 Responses to “better living through design: let’s chat!”

  1. Scott Bulger Photography Says:

    You have a beautifully designed blog here. nicely laid out and informative. I’ll be making it one of my regular stops.

  2. the scholar Says:

    hi scott,

    thanks so much for the compliments – you are very encouraging!

    i peeked at your blog and i think your work is great. you really connect with your subjects and that is such a gift. i love your boy scout motto of being prepared with your camera too — i carry my camera in my purse everywhere and sometimes people think i’m nuts but hey! you never know.

    thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  3. technabob Says:

    RE: BLTD… they’re one of my regular pitstops in my RSS reader, and I’m always digging their design sensibilities. Thanks for the background on their excellent site.

    (P.S.: I always want to call them Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato Design when I spell out their site’s acronym).

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