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Opened in August 2010, the Artisan Design Group’s (ADG) design studio and showroom in San Diego, Calif., is this year’s winner of the Nationals Gold Award for “Best Design Center”.


According to ADG’s President and Creative Director, Jaimi Julian Thompson, the key to walking away with the gold this year was in creating an environment that encouraged each visitor to walk away both inspired and motivated – not an easy task in today’s tightened economy.


“The challenge of today’s market is to inspire consumers with enough innovation and appeal that it encourages a buying decision,” Thompson said.  “Developers depend on design centers to provide the homeowner with demanded customization that excites prospective homebuyers about their new home, in addition to providing both purchase incentives and additional revenue.  The unique finishes and displays in the showroom have made every person coming through want to remodel some part of their home.”


Since the opening for the first Urban Design Center in the United States in May of 2004, Artisan design has established itself as an innovator in downtown living – designing homes, models, and public spaces in a variety of high-rise residential towers, including Smart Corner, Sapphire Tower, Atlas, Renaissance Tower, The Harbor Club, Horizons and Pinnacle.  This latest accolade falls on the heels of various others from organizations such as the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA), the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) and Qualified Remodeler Magazine.


“We offer the luxury of full-service with turnkey design services and custom remodeling to style-conscious urbanites and residential developers,” explained Thompson.  She added that what ADG is not doing is making the mistake of “trying to be all things to all people”.  She said this new design center has “led the trend for the boutique design experience.”


Featuring a look described as “destination for design” style – park urban, part transitional and part eclectic – the design center included three full kitchens – including a Bistro Kitchen for cooking demonstrations, as well as bathroom displays, home office interiors, the newest home automation and theatre systems, customized lighting and storage systems, cabinetry, flooring, window coverings, furniture and accessories. Every item and element is carefully chosen to represent the best of what the market has to offer.


“There is so much information overload out there — clients like the fact that we’ve done the hard work for them in finding the latest and greatest products that will also perform,” Thompson said.


In a tough economy where buyers tend to be cutting back in some areas to splurge on others, Thompson noted the importance of recognizing that home design is a very emotion-driven process. “To make a purchasing decision we have to inspire them, create the emotional “gotta have it,” so in this showroom we focused on featuring the “wow” products.” According to Thompson this includes items like Andean pecan flooring, glass mosaics and porcelain tiles, as well as the latest offerings in home automation and eco-friendly options. “We feature a wide range of eco-friendly products and educate the consumer in the different levels to consider when evaluating a product’s environmental impact.”


Thompson, who was recently awarded the “Green Community Award” by the local chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners, is a proponent of green design and the showroom reflects her commitment to energy-efficient and sustainable products. ADG helps customers “decode the hype on green,” by looking at five aspects of each eco-friendly product. Beginning with the manufacturing process, ADG looks at how air quality and the environment are affected in the creation of the product, then whether or not it includes recycled content, how much energy it uses, the product’s lifespan, and whether or not it can be recycled after its use and how.


Eco-friendly products on display at Artisan Design Center include: Teragren stranded bamboo flooring, recycled porcelain tiles, Wood Mode cabinetry, ECOStone by Cosentino, Caesarstone, Silestone by Cosentino, Zodiaq by DuPont, Vetro Rotto recycled glass countertops, Kohler water-saving fixtures, LED and low voltage lighting, ENERGY STAR appliances from several manufacturers and bamboo ceiling tiles.


In addition to working with homeowners and developers, ADG works directly with interior designers, in part through its annual Design Center Forum. The ninth forum was recently held in San Diego, Calif., and brought together design professionals, design industry managers and interior designers from throughout the country. The focus was on sharing success stories and market opportunities in a challenging marketplace.


Of course one of the success stories has to be ADG’s design center, which Thompson noted has received an “extremely, extremely positive” response from design professionals. “It has made them want to remodel their homes as well.”


Kim Singletary is editor-at-large at Options magazine. She may be contacted at