Design Practice Leader James Botha, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, has been quite busy heading and heating up Bergmeyer’s west coast base in Los Angeles.

Over his 20+ years of experience as a creative force in the design field, James worked year-over-year focusing on the development and implementation of inspiring and transformative design concepts in the global retail market for a number of the industry’s most recognizable and iconic brands.

Having worked extensively on commercial environments throughout North America, Europe and Asia, James played a direct role in growing and evolving the businesses of globally renowned retail brands that include the likes of Coach, Kate Spade and Ralph Lauren. His hands-on approach and strengths with creating and leading multi-disciplinary teams have made him an invaluable asset to his client’s success.

James is now applying that design savvy to growing Bergmeyer’s practice, and we couldn’t be more excited to have him on our team. Now that he has established his roots in sunny LA, here’s what James had to say under the Bergmeyer Spotlight.

Bergmeyer Spotlight: James Botha

What led you to study architecture/ interior design?

When I was a child, my grandfather would often take me around New York City, whether to the parks, museums, fire stations, but one day he took me to his favorite building, which was the Woolworth. I marveled at its size, its terra cotta detailing and mosaic-covered vaulted ceilings. I was fascinated by the grotesques in the lobby. One of them was a man holding a scale model of the building and I asked who that was. He explained it was the architect and that he was the one who designed the building. I decided at that moment I wanted to be an architect. And I never really strayed from that plan.

What are you currently working on at Bergmeyer?

Really, I’m just working on anything that can help establish and grow Bergmeyer’s presence in the Western states. It’s exciting being out here, helping to plant the seed that will grow the business, and I’m learning a lot along the way. My background is retail, which is what I’m primarily handling at the moment, but there are a lot of opportunities in LA and I look forward to gaining the experience through my work at Bergmeyer.

What is the one thing (not essential to survival) that you would want to have with you if you were stranded on a desert island?

My acoustic guitar. I’d have a lot of time to practice.

Bergmeyer Spotlight: James Botha

Where do you find inspiration? What inspires you?

To me, inspiration comes from whatever you open your eyes, ears and mind to. The world is full of inspiration. Art installations at the Broad, snow hikes up Mount Baldy, delicious food at Manuela, the smell of newly-fallen rain in the sage brush. I try to soak it all in.

What’s your biggest screw up in the kitchen?

Soon after my wife and I moved to Portland, Maine, I bought some pork chops at the local butcher to make for dinner. Our apartment was in an old Victorian converted into condos, and the kitchen had an old window as well as a door leading to the fire stair. I was still getting used to the kitchen when the pork chops starting smoking. To avoid the fire alarm going off, I tried opening the window, but it wouldn’t budge. I then opened the door to the stairwell which promptly led to the most deafening sound of the building fire alarm which could not be shut off. In my panic, I knocked over an entire bottle of olive oil at which point the fire department showed up, stomping around in their boots and getting oil all over the apartment. My wife arrived home from work at about this time. The pork chops were delicious.

Published Feb 12, 2020