We had the good fortune of connecting with Sean Garrison and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sean, we’d love to start by asking you about lessons learned. Is there a lesson you can share with us?
Having my own business/my career has taught me that one of the most important things you can do in building a business/brand is building your network. I have always been a people person/extroverted, and I was raised hearing my dad say things like “it’s not what you know, its who you know”. And while I could always see the logic in that, I never focused on that in my early career. I wanted to make/design/do cool things (well, things that I thought were cool and interesting and good). So the craft, the process and the finished product were the things that were most on my mind during the early years. But it wasn’t until I was several years in that I started realizing the opportunity that came from the network of people you keep around you, and put yourself into. Sure you need focus on developing skills, and knowledge. And putting effort into being someone that’s easy to work with also helps, but I eventually realized that practically every industry out there is about people and how you can relate to them.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Architecturally, Garrison Design Office is a boutique design firm in Houston. We have done projects in Houston, Austin and Dallas. What sets us a part is our design-forward process. we practice contextually-based design and believe that the design should be guided by site, city, client, program and budget. We build our designs around critical thinking for innovative and creative solutions to the project brief. Most proud of the fact that we have been able to specialize/focus on restaurant, retail and public space design. And have gotten to do some of Houstons well-known concepts
Musically, Bayou City Funk is a Houston- based funky band that has been around for 6 years now. We play regionally all over Houston and Louisiana. Most proud of joining the Splice Records label and growing together as songwriters.
Got to where I am with a passion for the process and staying persistent in the vision to do it. Rarely are things that are fulfilling easy. fulfillment comes from putting in the work. Overcoming the challenges can be hard, and they will push you to the brink. Sometimes they make you alter your course a bit, but if you stick to the path and believe in what you’re doing, then one way or another it will usually work out.
Biggest lesson I’ve learned is simply to always keep going. Win or Lose. When you get small victories, congratulate yourself. Think about what went right, and then set bigger and better goals. And when failure happens, take an honest look at it. Figure out what went wrong/what lessons can be gleaned, and keep going.
I guess I want people to know that it is possible to do what you want to do. You just need passion, vision and determination. When I wanted to be in a funk band, or wanted to work on my own as a designer I had no idea if it was going to work. And my process for both arts now is very different from what it was 6 years ago. But I kept at it. And I took every opportunity to learn and evolve. And eventually those efforts evolved into functioning businesses
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Houston is best viewed by bike. And with all the bike trails it makes connecting areas of the city a lot easier. There’s so much great food here its too much to list. Nobie’s, Nancys Hustle, Tiny Champions, are amazing restaurants. Better Luck Tomorrow is an amazing bar with great food in the Heights (that we designed, but thats not why its great). Little Dipper and Market Square downtown or Grand Prize in Montrose are the go to bars. Poison Girl in Montrose is also amazing. For great wine head to Montrose Wine and Cheese or Light Years Natural wine shop. Then there’s all the great Vietnamese, Indian and Pakistani food all over Houston. Himalaya is a favorite. For coffee head to Blacksmith in Montrose or Xela on the east side
No trip to Houston is complete without a visit to the museums. Go to menil park in Montrose and visit the Menil. Then head down to the glasses, the sculpture gardens and the museum of fine arts Houston before heading down to Herman park and the museum of natural science.
White oak music hall, Heights theater, The Continental Club, Last Concert Cafe, The Secret Group, and Danelectros are great local music venues to catch some live music. On Saturdays go to the Eastside farmers market, and on Sundays go take a stroll on 19th street in the heights, or westhiemer in Montrose and do some shopping.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Cord Bowen – first professor I had in architectural school. Taught me what it means to fall in love with the process of creative endeavors that you love, and how to evaluate my efforts based on what I knew I was capable of, rather than the efforts of others
Metalab – Joe Meppelink and Andrew Vrana – these two were both professors of mine and continued instilling in me the values of a creative professional that Cord started. They Also started their own Design Firm Metalab that has done quite well and now they mentor me in my design practice as a professional.
Instagram: Garrison Design Office & Bayou City Funk
Facebook: Garrison Design Office & Bayou City Funk
Youtube: Bayou City Funk
ALL professional portraits in the architectural studio, of me, and of my architectural projects: Photo Credit Jenn Duncan photo