Designer Friday: Anthony Poon

It’s not every day that we have an opportunity to interview an architect known around the world for not only his architecture and design, but also for his fine art, graphic design, music, and photography. Anthony Poon, The Los Angeles-based principal of Poon Design Inc. and Berkeley and Harvard graduate, has applied his understanding and undisputed knack for the arts to every sector he is involved in; from a bestselling book, “Sticks and Stones/Steel and Glass,” to a membership on the International Feng Shui Guild, to a seat on the United States Green Building Council. Poon Designs’ LEED-certified projects range from schools to religious buildings, and have been awarded the title of international best restaurant design from The American Institute of Architects… twice! The multifaceted magnate took a moment out of his busy schedule to chat with us for this week’s Designer Friday.

Hidden away in the mountains, this Cali estate from Poon Design is a private paradise.

Andrew Joseph: What’s your go-to bed ritual?
Anthony Poon: I eat some fruit, usually an orange. I play a little piano, currently working on Schumann, Bach and Dear Evan Hansen. I paint and collage—always mixed-media canvas in the works. I jot in my journal or my sketchbook, simply to record the day and know that it was worthwhile.

Andrew: How do you maintain a work/life balance?
Anthony: By not separating the two. My work is being creative. So too is my life. I don’t subscribe to the cliché of “work hard, play hard”–a co-dependent thought. If work and life are intertwined, then you have balance.

Andrew: What modern design trend makes you cringe?
Anthony: This may sound blasphemous. I am tired of hearing about Mid-Century Modern. People are obsessed with this trend, and those that pursue it merely apply a formulaic, paint-by-numbers approach to their selection of design details, furniture and art. Why not create something that is unique to your character? Mid-Century Modernism is a revered genre, but please give it an original touch.

Andrew: Who do you want to write your obituary?
Anthony: I wish Mozart was alive to write my requiem. That would be heroic, dramatic, tragic and memorable.

Andrew: What’s one ingredient you put in everything?
Anthony: A dash of humor. Take your endeavors seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously. Having a slight smile throughout your day will transform everything you do.

One of Anthony’s restaurant projects, which features an eye-catching found-object chandelier.

Andrew: Most adventurous thing you’ve done in your life?
Anthony: Climbing to the top of Half Dome at Yosemite. Twice!

Andrew: How would you define your work in three words?
Anthony: Jazz, Juxtaposition and Process.

Andrew: Best advice you’d give your teenage self?
Anthony: Relax, everything will be okay. Don’t try so hard. Don’t be so impatient with the world.

Andrew: What would you like to be remembered for?
Anthony: A four-part goal: Designing one great building, composing one great piece of music, creating one great painting, and authoring one great book.

Andrew: A dessert you don’t like?
Anthony: I never understood tiramisu. Why so many disparate things? Tiramisu is soggy cake with caffeine and cheese. Really? Even the ingredient of “ladyfingers” is creepy.


About The Designer | Educated as a multi-disciplinary designer, Anthony Poon is an award-winning architect and musician. Spanning three decades of professional experience, he is a LEED-accredited architect licensed in California and Virginia, a member of The American Institute of Architects, and an IIDA interior designer—as well as a classical pianist, mixed-media artist, and published author. Mr. Poon received his Master of Architecture from Harvard University and his Bachelor of Arts from University of California, Berkeley, Magna Cum Laude. Anthony is passionate about staying involved within the architecture and design communities; he frequently presents at national and regional conferences, as well as schools and universities. Anthony is also a member of the Modern and Contemporary Art Council for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the A+D Architecture and Design Museum in Los Angeles. He is a certified Feng Shui professional, and holds membership with the International Feng Shui Guild.

Poon Design has received more than 50 national honors, including becoming a Certified “Innovator” Sustainable Business in Culver City, within the California Green Business Network, in March 2019. Recently, Anthony received the highest honor for residential design, the 2018 National AIA Award, in addition to being awarded, for an unprecedented two years in a row, the 2005 and 2006 National Grand Prize from Learning by Design — the highest honor given to an educational project in the country. He was also a performing artist for the 2012 Architects in Concert, and a selected mixed-media artist for the 2013 national Beverly Hills Art Show, www.anthonypoonart.com. His book, Sticks and Stones / Steel and Glass: One Architect’s Journey has received critical acclaim. Anthony currently authors a blog on architecture and design: www.anthonypoon.com.


Andrew Joseph is a regular contributing editor for ASPIRE DESIGN AND HOME magazine. See more of his work here

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