A few weeks ago, I visited a restaurant profiled in an earlier issue. The design called for putting up a grand chandelier above the bar area, but there were delays and then budget worries and then logistical challenges, and they never got around to even getting — let alone putting up — that chandelier. On my visit, I looked up at the vaulted space where lights and crystals were supposed to be and wondered if the absence of that piece made a difference to the guests.

I told my dining companion there was supposed to be a statement piece above our heads that hadn’t panned out. She shrugged and said the restaurant’s beautiful bar was a great focal point — and probably a better return on investment for the owner anyway. I nodded. Had I never known the chandelier was supposed to be there, I wouldn’t have given the empty space above a second thought.

This summer, we hosted Tour the Design Trends ( It rained that morning, and some of our guests were delayed. On one stop, the designer of the space was caught in a downpour and wasn’t able to make it to Gibsons Italia to talk about the space.

It just so happened that one guest of the tour — Patricia Rotondo, senior principal, director of interior design for Antunovich Associates — had intimate knowledge of the restaurant because her firm had served as the architect of record. She gamely jumped in and gave a guided tour, winning over everyone in attendance with her professional expertise and personal charm.

Patricia was not yet a reader of our magazine. The reason she was on the tour was that she was a guest of the International Interior Design Association — an association we partnered with last year — and was invited because she had just been named their member of the year.

Since that meeting, I’ve been lucky to stay in contact with Patricia. I recently got to tour her firm’s latest restaurant design, a renovation of Prosecco in Chicago. And I’ll see her again this fall as she plans to attend our next event, the Foodservice Equipment & Design Global Thought Leadership Summit in a few weeks.

On every project, we experience frustrations that can turn into opportunities. Whether it’s the lighting fixture that didn’t arrive or a rain delay that gives us a new acquaintance, happy accidents leave us surprised, enriched and enlightened — once we’re done being frustrated. And the results of both our frustration and surprise can be among our most valuable lessons.

If you’ve learned any valuable lessons, be sure to reach out and tell us. And if you’ve been part of any exceptional projects lately, there’s still time to submit them to the 2019 rd+d awards, which will be featured in our January/February 2019 issue.

Also, be sure to download Editorial Director Joe Carbonara's webcast, Designing for a Decreasing Footprint, for real-world details on how to maximize space in an every-shrinking footprint.