the studio 

From a 10x10 barn space on Atlas Peak Road to an 8,000 square-foot Napa design studio and full-service fabrication workshop, Vonsaal Design Build (VDB) has turned visions into reality for the past 18 years. From wine tasting rooms, to restaurants, custom homes, to art and sculpture, to furniture pieces, our portfolio is vast. We have the benefit of combining front-of-house design services with the back-of-house workshop, which means full creative license and quality control of every project. 

VDB digs deep with each of our clients, finding out what makes their spaces unique. Our process means each design is thought out to the last detail. By the time our designs become reality, the spaces are filled with rich stories, materials, and craftsmanship. 

the team

Richard Von Saal - Principal Artist, Owner

Kat Oldershaw - Operations and Accounts Manager

Veronica Lerer-Woerz - Project Manager 

Sandy Enriquez - Design Assistant

Neil McFarland - Metal Fabricator

 

 

 

RICHARD VON SAAL  

Richard Von Saal woke up in the middle of the night in June of 1999 with a life-changing realization. At the time he was the chef and owner of Mixers, a vegetarian restaurant and juice bar with locations in St. Helena and Napa. Diagnosed with cancer in his early 20's, Von Saal had started Mixers to help people live better lives through healthy eating. He had designed the space, the furniture, and the light fixtures. He was also the restaurant's chef, working 5 a.m.-to-midnight workdays. When he woke up that night with a jolt, he realized what he wanted to do with his life was what he had been doing all along; designing, building, creating art, and doing it all from the ground up. Before the end of the year, he had closed the restaurant, rented space in a barn on Atlas Peak Road, and started building. To make his new venture possible, as well as meet people in the community, Von Saal decided to go to school to be a hair stylist, cutting back days as his growing company gained footing. By year 5, he was able to quit styling and focus on Vonsaal Design Build full-time.

Von Saal created VDB out of his passion for surrounding people with beautiful and meaningful spaces and pieces. He believes everyone deserves to be welcomed into spaces that are as comfortable as they are stimulating. Von Saal looks at every vantage point, angle, and surface; every detail is of the utmost importance in his designs. Enticing people to pay attention.

Raised between Napa Valley and the Pacific Northwest, Von Saal grew up working on investment properties and boats with his mother and stepfather. Working for $1 an hour, he quickly learned the value of a dollar and hard work. Von Saal recalls watching 007 Goldfinger as an 8-year-old as a defining moment. He was instantly in awe of the iconic sets of production designer Ken Adams; mesmerized by the gadgets, the glamour, and the futuristic modernism. Today his designs reflect his original inspiration. 

Independently trained, Von Saal has been building and designing as far back as he can remember. One of his first memories is sitting on the curb on a hot day in front of his house in Vallejo, not even four years old, the heat of the summer sun had melted the tar on the street so that it moved like clay. He pushed the globs into mountains, made the bubbles into futuristic dome homes, added some plants and created a city. And while his materials and scales have grown over the years, he's been doing the same ever since.