Fashion Plate

Dina Marciano knows a thing or two about style — including when it comes to food.

Speaking as a chef, I can tell you that a well-designed kitchen is essential to putting out grand meals, and the food’s presentation is equally essential to creating art on a plate. So whom better to speak to about kitchen and food styling than an uber-talented interior designer and food artist? Dina Marciano ( is known for her sophisticated ability to create modern environments and light-filled interiors. Based in Laguna Beach, her love of wide, open space, elegant lines and natural materials have made her signature designs come to life in residential and commercial projects throughout the county, and beyond. I sat down to dish with her about the most important room in the house: the kitchen!

Please tell us about your life as a designer and how you see the world aesthetically.

My life as a designer is very creative, spiritual and meaningful to me. I see the world in a very deeply beautiful way and believe design has a major impact on our well-being. Nature is my biggest inspiration and a channel to harmonious relationships. Between the natural light architecture and interiors where one can physically and visually relate to the space, my designs provide a lifestyle experience. (Editor’s note: This same philosophy applies to her food styling. “I look at the entire setting,” she notes. “It’s not just the food on the plate, but how it’s placed. It’s having beautiful flowers — the whole picture.” You can see her styling on the opposite page, with her portobello, tomato, avocado and poached-egg stack, and in our Dessert feature titled “So Cool!”)

Let’s talk countertops. What are the newest trends, discoveries or offerings in surfaces?

I’m consumed with countertops, although I personally don’t believe in trends. I’m all about timeless lifestyle design and products. I love natural stones like granite, slate and soapstone. I love concrete, as well. We have to understand in design, just like in life, imperfection is perfection. Discoloration of the stone over time actually gives a countertop more of a distinguished look. Today there are a ton of varieties of natural and man-made stone available. It’s all about personal preferences and the look of the kitchen you’re trying to achieve.

As a chef, I can tell you that my kitchen sink is so important. Share your thoughts on the “workhorse” areas of a kitchen and how you design a space for the avid cook.

I love the practicality of sinks, and sinks have become one of my specialties. I search out and design sinks that are aesthetically beautiful and also useful. I try to avoid clutter, so by designing a shallow island on one of the sides of the sink, you can diminish clutter on the kitchen counter.

Do you have an appliance brand of choice? What do you recommend to culinary connoisseurs?

I love the design simplicity of Gaggenau and Miele appliances. Sub-Zero and Wolf offer great performance and baking features. The luxury manufacturers maintain very high standards of quality.

When it comes to designing a kitchen, can you share some thoughts about flow and how to create a workspace conducive to theclient cooking and easy entertaining?

The kitchen is the new living room! It’s the place where we spend most of our time bonding and socializing with family and friends, which is essential in our lives. An open space plan, where the kitchen is exposed to the dining and living space, allows for natural flow, where you and your guests feel free to move around.  The kitchen island usually creates that gathering concept, and it’s an ideal component for displaying food and drinks. Making the island the center-point of the kitchen is always best!

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