Visual designer Michael Hamilton has lived in Plano for 29 years, the past 18 in the 1930s-era A.R. Schell home in the historic district. In 2010 Michael opened the boutique La Foofaraw in Downtown Plano with business partners Mona Crider and Julie Higginbotham. He does all the merchandising for the store, identifying himself as “the visual guy.” For the past 18 years Michael has also been designing and installing all of the Christmas decor inside the Dallas Arboretum’s DeGolyer House, to the delight of the 195,000 guests who visit during the holiday season.
How do you plan the design each for year for the DeGolyer House?
I have a great team. It’s not just me. We start planning it a year in advance, always. This year, the theme is “The Artistry of the Nativity: Peace.” In 2017, the theme was the “Nutcracker Suite.” On each of those trees was one of the dances. The unifier was a plaid ribbon. Every tree, every garland, everything had its own plaid. That’s how I like to design. I like to put something in there subtle. The first year probably took seven days to decorate. Now it takes four to five days.
What do you love about decorating for the public eye?
There is nothing better [for me] than to get all dressed up, go to the Arboretum and just to walk around and listen. Listen to what people say, and it will tell you what you need to know for next year. It will tell you what they get and what they don’t get. And it will tell you if you got them “out of their box” or not. I want everybody out of their box.
What impact do you hope your designs make on the people who see them?
I want people to come away and go, “Oh my gosh, I don’t have a clue how he did that,” but I want the wonderment there. I want people to understand you have to fluff a tree. I guess at the end of the day, it’s the techniques, so you can take it home with you and make your house as lovely.
How do you like to give back to Plano?
My job is to perform and do. I am the do-er. Plano Artfest: How did that happen, how did it look, how did it flow? That’s me. Steinfest: How does it look, how does it flow, what’s the decor, why are we doing it? That’s me. I’m the behind-the-scenes, make-it-happen, get-it-done, volunteer-it guy. So that’s what I do; that’s how I give back.
Photos of the 2017 DeGolyer House decorations:DeGolyer House > La Foofaraw >