It seems fitting that the first blog post on our new website returns us to design school where Milo Baughman was my professor and mentor. He was my inspiration, a truly great man, and an amazing designer. He taught me not only how to consider all aspects of design and the design process, but how to present to clients, the importance of the client/designer relationship, and to keep a good sense of humor.
My first introduction to Milo was a night class on furniture design. He arrived slightly late, found a marker from his case, and proceeded to write his name and contact info across the whiteboard. Then he turned to the class, advised us to write down his info so that we could contact him throughout the semester, then picked up the eraser to continue onto his lesson only to learn that he had used a permanent Sharpie. He paused, silently drew a word bubble at the top of the whiteboard, in the only space left, then in it wrote "I do not know who wrote this". I knew it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
I was honored to work with Milo on several residential jobs. In one instance, the client wanted clay tile flooring in a new sunroom being built off their master bedroom. Milo chose a deep green grout, which I questioned but he adamantly confirmed. We received a call from the client asking us to see the installation. Milo took one look at it and asked me what I thought. I mustered the courage to say, "it looks like a geometric Christmas tree". He chuckled, shrugged in agreement, then very nonchalantly called the installer. Needless to say, new grout was installed the next day.
We designed a beautiful custom entertainment unit together for a client's living room, which I drew in CADD. The unit was built off site, then brought in three large pieces to be assembled and installed. Upon completion, the installer mentioned how impressed he was with the exactness of the measurements (1/4" on all sides). Milo congratulated me on the job, then with a twinkle in his eye asked if we could be a little less exact, as in about 1" more so, next time.
Milo recounted his "contract" with Thayer Coggin as a simple handshake that cemented their working relationship and friendship for decades. This article does their accomplishments justice:
A Powerful Handshake
I loved driving to client meetings with Milo in his old BMW. Sometimes his old and talkative dog would come along for the ride. We loved talking about Los Angeles where we both grew up, and sometimes discussed shared religious beliefs. Milo always seemed to have notepads at arms reach, mounted to his dashboard, on his desk, etc. so that he could jot down brilliant thoughts as they came to him. Often times my job was simply to compile his notes so that the ideas wouldn't be lost. After my graduation from college, we exchanged Christmas cards for many years. I learned of his passing in 2003 when I didn't receive a card from him and ours was returned unopened.
Milo taught me to consider design in its entirety. His furniture designs are very sculptural and beautiful from all angles, his interiors the same. He founded the interior design program at Brigham Young University to share that passion, to which I benefited greatly. By the time I came along he was teaching just a few night classes per semester, yet I can honestly say that I learned more from him than any other professor in the program. I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to know this great man.