Phoenix Visionary Oscar de las Salas: 'Design Is What I Do'

Architect and interior designer de las Salas keeps a close eye on trends in fashion, architecture, urban design and art.

When it comes to fashion and style, Oscar de las Salas has it in spades. He is one of the Phoenix Metro area’s most recognizable dapper dressers, an outspoken fashion critic and a design trends adviser.

A skilled architect and interior designer, de las Salas manages opportunity development for Gensler’s Phoenix office, and keeps the pulse on the community through his continued involvement with nonprofit organizations. As he says, “Design is what I do.”

What drives you to be an advocate of the community in Metro Phoenix?

I landed here 20 years ago with four suitcases and knowing only one person. I discovered this desert was an evolving art, fashion and design community. Because of the city’s creative potential, I took a chance and continued to grow within a vibrant city. I realized that the city offered plenty of creative outlets and design opportunities—both of which I was looking for to help me contribute to Phoenix’s urban progression.

Why is fashion important to you?

At a young age, my father taught me the importance of always being presentable—this as one of the many other valuable lessons in life he taught me. My mother, a true fashionista, used fashion to speak for herself and fostered fashion to cultivate intellectuality and manners. Those two elements combined— discipline and aesthetics—helped create who I am today.

Trends in local architecture?

We will see more and more local businesses looking for branding through the design of their buildings and interiors, looking to have a singular image that is unique and unlike any other company. Businesses will keep pushing for a distinctive look, but will be largely influenced by local flavor leveraging the native materials and sampling construction techniques.

In terms of urban developments, the city will try to regain the power of downtown. The downtowns of the local metro centers will have their own flavor: Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Gilbert, Goodyear, Glendale, etc. This urban transformation will give us a change in proportion of the current skyline.

In the interest of living with everything within walking distance rather than driving distance, Metro Phoenix will definitely change how we live/see our city.

Any favorite spots around town?

Saturday evenings are a must at AZ/88, and Hanny’s after a night out in downtown. Farm & Craft in Scottsdale wins for Sunday brunch, and any time is the right time at The Windsor for its towering Reuben sandwich.

For coffee, there is nothing like Press Coffee in front of the Phoenix Art Museum. Or, close by is Giant Coffee.

Any restaurant by the hand of chef Silvana Salcido-Esparza is golden, but my favorite is Barrio Gran Reserva. [I also love] Chef Justin Beckett’s restaurants, Beckett’s Table and Southern Rail.

Now, if I am looking for spaghetti and meatballs, Mark Tarbell has it at Tarbell’s. But if it is French cuisine, I have to stop at the Wrigley Mansion to visit with my friend Christopher Gross from Geordie's Restaurant.

And if you want to go shopping?

Phoenix General offers the perfect local cotton tees and latest artist fashions. The luxury wing at the Scottsdale Fashion Square has labels, labels and more labels. To shop local and vintage, head to Vintage by Misty. For a suit or a shirt and tie, I head to Suitsupply.

And lastly, I must always stop at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, or SMoCA, and view the best of contemporary art in the Valley of the Sun.

Michelle Glicksman
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