Designer Friday: An ASPIRE Exclusive Interview With Grant Kirkpatrick

This week’s #DesignerFriday is Grant Kirkpatrick, founder of KAA Design Group. In an interview with Andrew Joseph, this thoughtful Californian shares his feelings about wood, wine, and fighting forest fires.


This home’s elegant curves and lighting are perfectly accented by the California sunset.

Andrew Joseph: How do you maintain a work/life balance?
Grant Kirkpatrick: I don’t. I stopped fighting to find that. Truth is I love what I do and it all blends together in one passionate continuum. It’s similar to meditation for me – I tried every type possible for three years. One day, I said, “This just isn’t for me,” and I suddenly felt terrific. Engaged, present, centered. I am lucky and grateful to do what I do.

Andrew: What modern design trend makes you cringe?
Grant: Anything that is of the moment. Reclaimed wood has become cringeworthy. I can’t find too many restaurants without it. It’s comfort food now, but it will be stale in no time, if not already.

Andrew: Dream country to work in? Or dream project to take on.
Grant: Winery. My wife and I travel to the great wine growing/producing destinations of the world – certainly, for the great wine and food, but also because the people, culture and architecture are always amazing. At KAA we have a modern rustic portfolio of work that speaks to the more rural but forward-thinking viticultural areas and I am excited about more design work in these beautiful regions.


Kirkpatrick’s appreciation for beauty is on full display in this piano-side interior garden.

Andrew: The most adventurous thing you’ve done in your life?
Grant: I fought a forest fire. It wasn’t my intent – but at our vineyard in Paso Robles, we had a 53,000-acre fire threaten our property and I happen to be there at the time. They evacuated everyone but I couldn’t bear to see the ranch and vineyards go up in flames so I stayed to help. It was a harrowing 4 days -we lost 6 acres -but we saved the structures and trees. And I learned, despite what you see in the movies, vineyards don’t burn.

Andrew: How would you define your work in three words?
Grant: Timeless. Modern. Warm.

Andrew: What might the design world look like in 10 years?
Grant: The process of design will be radically different a decade from now. Design Technology is a major theme of the future for KAA Design and we are passionate about capitalizing on the exponential curve of how technology is already advancing our process and our design work. Virtual Reality, 3D printing, Building Information Technology -the current advances are just the beginning of this exciting revolution. I just had an insider’s view of Apple Glasses (no release date) and it is clear that the fusion of Humans and Technology is becoming one -and it’s happening now. Scary and exciting.

Andrew: How do you define beauty?
Grant: As essential. I argued in a 2014 TEDx Talk that without beauty, humankind would cease to exist. It is as important as air, water, and shelter. We forget our primal instinct and ability to recognize beauty and how it makes us feel – a bird in flight, the lines of a great car, the human figure. We are not only wired to appreciate beauty but seek it as a form of energy that we cannot live without.


About The Designer | A third-generation Californian, Grant Kirkpatrick draws his energy and inspiration from his home state’s progressive ideals and an optimistic embrace of the new. He has been the visionary force behind KAA Design Group, the firm he founded 29 years ago. Grant and his team continue to enjoy elevating the human spirit through the benefits and authenticity of warm contemporary residential design.


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

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ASPIRE DESIGN AND HOME is seeker and storyteller of the sublime in living. It is a global guide to in-depth and varied views of beauty and shelter that stirs imagination; that delights and inspires homeowners as well as art and design doyens. Collaborating with emergent and eminent architects, artisans, designers, developers and tastemakers, ASPIRE creates captivating content that savors the subjects and transports with stunning imagery and clever, thought-provoking writing. Through lush and unique visuals and a fresh editorial lens, ASPIRE explores what is new and undiscovered in art, interiors, design, culture, real estate, travel and more. ASPIRE DESIGN AND HOME is an international narrative and resource for all seeking the sublime.