Convivial Spaces: Design for the Bon Vivant

July 1st, 2011  |  Published in Convivial Spaces, Learn

Welcome to Culinary Creative, and to my new blog “Convivial Spaces: Design for the Bon Vivant”!

Twice weekly, I will be posting a column discussing architecture and design, and how it relates to cuisine, entertaining and hospitality.  Things like spatial proportions, scale, lighting, acoustics and organization all have a role to play in helping our guests to relax, interact, feel comfortable and have a fantastic time.

Baby Bon Vivant

I was born a bon vivant (literally!)

Born a bon vivant (literally), the main focus of my life has always been on working to create an ambiance of joviality, joie de vivre and friendship around me.  As a career, I chose to pursue architecture; there is nothing more satisfying than helping a family create their dream home, or helping an up and coming restaurateur realize her vision.

Coming in close second is my passion for cuisine.  In fact, I always said that if architecture didn’t work out I would design the restaurant that I work in for the rest of my life!  My grandmother and mother are both full-blooded Lithuanians, and that culture has a rich culinary heritage.  I was raised on wild mushrooms and sour cream, potatoes, and gorgeously seasoned meat-filled dumplings.  Mom was a caterer for a good portion of my youth, and our kitchen was transformed into a busy tasting kitchen alive with discussions and critiques of her many creations.

I spent most of my twenties living in France; I experienced the cliché “American in Paris Meets French Man” and got married.  It was an incredible time; I learned so much, and I have done my best in the years since here in San Diego to recreate as much of a French culinary culture as possible.

Luckily, my home in South Park is a very convivial place.  Sharing a duplex with a good friend who also loves to entertain, we have parties quite often.  Our events range from cheerful afternoon picnics, evening outdoor dinners by firelight, indoor multi-course meals, to late night dance parties (which sometimes require apologies the next day!)  My kitchen is small; in fact, I have almost always had to work with a small kitchen.  Nonetheless, we can turn out a sit-down dinner for 25.  Efficient design, not size, is what makes or breaks a kitchen.

Our last big fête was last fall; we called it “La Guinguette Chez Nous”.  The “guinguette” has a great history – it is simply a big outdoor party for working class folks that became popular in Paris in the late 19th century.  If you’re a fan of impressionism, then you have probably seen many scenes of the guinguette.  Outdoor restaurants and cafés along the Marne river, filled with music, lights and red and white tablecloths, attracted thousands of Parisians on the weekends.



The challenge “chez nous” was transforming a large concrete surface on the edge of a canyon into an intimate dining experience for 30 people – plus a dance floor, of course!  With creative lighting, table placement and seating we were able to give our guests an evening of true escape, a bit of giddy fantasy on the edge of our beautiful canyon…

La Guinguette Chez Nous

Fantastic night under the stars...

So please join me on Wednesdays and Saturdays to discuss food, love, design, wine, architecture, friendship… and conviviality!

Laurie C. Fisher

Laurie C. Fisher, AIA is an award-winning California Registered Architect practicing in San Diego. Born a bon vivant, her main focus in architecture is in creating joyful environments, indoors and out. An avid cook and francophile, Laurie is able to impart her unique knowledge of culture, cuisine and entertaining to her projects. She can be reached at 619.252.2312 or

More Posts - Website