IN THIS AGE OF "FAKE NEWS" AND "ALTERNATIVE FACTS", ONE OF MY CORE VALUES IS AUTHENTICITY; BOTH PERSONALLY AND PROFESSIONALLY.
I was born in Garland, Texas – the lonely middle child – to Kent and Suzanne Duke.
My father was the Fire Marshall of Garland and my mother an elementary school teacher in Rockwall, Texas.
Now, Garland is not exactly the epicenter of art, design, fashion, culture, or the like.
This was before the Internet, so I seriously had to research to find what I was looking seeking.
A fond memory I have is that there was a concert in town featuring Marvin Hamlisch and Bernadette Peters.
I had no idea who they were.
That night was magical.
I found Broadway.
I remember my father taking me to the VHS rental store and renting A Chorus Line.
I had never seen anything like it before, and I realized there was this bigger world of musical theater out there.
I think I may have rented every musical they had at the store over the course of a few years.
I might have been the only person that ever rented them.
Throughout my adolescents, I played piano, danced, was involved in community children’s theater, and marching band.
The visual and performing arts played an integral part of my upbringing.
My parents had saved money for me to go to college after high school.
The truth is, I didn’t know who I was, what I wanted to be, or where I fit into this world.
So, for six years, I worked in luxury retailers, leasing luxury apartments, and teaching high school dance teams.
All these experiences taught me about life: who I was; what I liked; and helped guide me to my next paths.
During this time, I had the opportunity to spend three summers performing with the World Champion Blue Devils Drum and Bugle Corps from Concord, California.
Scott Chandler was the choreographer and designer for the color guard.
I learned so much about the creative process.
It was a blend of technical precision and being open to the vast opportunities of the freedom to create.
We were able to create programs that provided an emotional and visceral experience for the audience.
Throughout the season, we layered nuance and detail on the framework to create memorable performance art.
So much of what I observed and synthesized from Scott has impacted me in my design work today.
In 2004, I enrolled in a few Interior Design classes on a whim.
My first class at 8AM on Monday morning, I was greeted by my professor, Ron Reed who would change my perception of the Interior Design world.
When he said, “Interior Designers have the ability to enhance peoples lives where the live, work, play, worship, dine, and you can change lives.”
It spoke to my head and my heart.
I went back to my studio apartment and packed everything and moved back home with my parents.
I enrolled in every class every semester for three years to complete my degree.
During this time, I was very fortunate to be awarded a part-time internship with ForrestPerkins, a luxury hospitality design firm.
I learned so much from the three years that I worked there during school and after graduation.
I was taught to be a 360 designer.
We all did everything from CAD Drawings, sourcing materials, furniture, fabrics, specification, construction administration, project management, and to the completion of the installation.
Hospitality design was great.
I was fortunate to be a part of several projects both domestically and internationally.
There was something missing for me.
It was connection to a client.
I transitioned to high-end residential design with Ike Isenhour.
He exposed me to the world of high-end residential design work in Dallas, New York, Monaco, and Italy.
With him traveling so much, I learned to take control of projects, manage clients, and get it done while he was gone.
I was the wind beneath his wings.
To this day, Ike is still a dear friend and mentor.
For my entire life, I never felt like Dallas was home.
I knew California was where I wanted to live.
In 2011, I transitioned to San Diego for a brief stint as a Design Manager for Fairfield Residential, a multi-family developer.
I loved the city of San Diego, but I hated my job.
In 2013, I moved to West Hollywood and became a project manager for Rose Tarlow Design working on high-end projects both in the states and abroad for celebrities and business executive.
One day, a meme came across my Facebook feed that said, “Start making your dreams come true, or someone else is going to pay you to make theirs come true.”
This hit me in the head and the heart.
I started making plans to transition to opening my own design studio.
In January of 2015, I launched AARON B DUKE – design and architectural coordination.
It has been one of the best things I have ever done for myself.
When you have spent years working for other people, you learn to design from their point of view, their aesthetic, and their taste.
For the first time, I had to develop my own point of view.
For me, I define it as modern luxury with a classic and timeless style.
In this time, I have been fortunate to build a clientele of business professionals, celebrities, and musicians, and yes, just good people who have trusted me with the vision for their homes and lifestyle.
AUTHENTICITY, to me, is a lifetime job.
Everyday, I learn something about myself.
Everyday, I learn more about who I am as a brand.
Everyday, it all becomes more AUTHENTIC.