Guest speaker offers new perspective on design

Raga Justin

Beats by Dre, Nasty Gal and Jamba Juice are all high-profile clients of architect Barbara Bestor, who discussed her work during a lecture on campus Wednesday.

The UT School of Architecture Lectures and Exhibitions event focused on several of Bestor’s projects and broke down various design elements and challenges of each. Bestor said designing personal living spaces is as important to her as corporate projects for large firms.

“For me, the everyday part is a pretty strong belief that most important stuff happens more in everyday life than it does in the more grand moments,” Bestor said. “So, I think as an architect I try to incorporate everyday life for the urban dweller.”

Bestor’s Los Angeles-based firm, Bestor Architecture, was recently commissioned to redesign the Silver Lake Conservatory of Music, which was founded in part by Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Michael “Flea” Balzary. In addition to commercial spaces, the firm handles residential requests and urban housing developments.

Bestor’s 2006 book, “Bohemian Modern: Living in Silver Lake,” spawned from her first intensive project: a cabin she refurbished for herself and her two young daughters after undergoing a divorce. 

“The house reminded me of the Unabomber shed, which was really the state of mind I was in back then,” Bestor said. 

The School of Architecture features many exhibits and speakers like Bestor throughout the year, with a lineup that repeatedly includes award-winning architects from around the globe.

Architecture graduate student Delaney Bannister said she appreciates learning from architects outside of Austin.

“A lot of our professors are from the area,” Bannister said. “The lectures give us an opportunity to not only get different perspectives geographically, but also different perspectives of design. This lecture was a great example of that.”

Interior design senior Annely Alaniz, whose professor recommended the lecture, said she came for a rare opportunity to learn more about Bestor’s field.

“We talked about her projects a little in class to prepare,” Alaniz said. “We don’t have a lot of interior design-based lectures, and I really wanted to learn more about her thought process.”

Architecture senior Hannah Williams said she found Bestor’s ability to manipulate atmospheres and constraints interesting and unique. 

“It’s really inspiring for us as architects —  she’s a woman running a firm,” Williams said. “I took away an interest in being playful with architecture and at the same time pushing boundaries.”