Oscar De las salas

Scottsdale - Project Manager, Gensler

Everyone in Phoenix knows Oscar De las salas. The multi-hyphenate has had his hands in a variety of fields from fashion to architecture, and dreams of doing more. Especially, planning his next trip to Norway, since he and his husband have an “affinity for crisp cold days and landscapes where green is the main color.”

Q&A:

Hometown?

Barranquilla, Colombia.

Place you call home now (neighborhood etc)?

Uptown Phoenix, Alhambra neighborhood.

Any notes on your education?

I am a graduated architect with a master’s degree in interior architecture from the University of Salamanca (Spain). I also have completed in-depth studies in theory of design, which is something that I barely use professionally.

Favorite sport to watch?

I really find contact sports such as boxing and MMA very intriguing, as they are a mix of physical strength and strategy.

Favorite sport to play?

I cannot remember the last time I played a match with someone. I am now into spin, like to swim when I am able and, when time comes for relaxation, yoga. Now, if I had the chance to play team sports, I would go for basketball (I played a bunch growing up) or soccer.

Best vacation ever?

My most memorable trip—due to the intellectual level and the beauty of the country and riverside—was to Coimbra in Portugal, a city that was the original capital of the Portuguese kingdom. In the last year of my master’s degree, I was ready to get back to Madrid to come to the U.S., so we visited several new modern developments and modern construction projects built over Roman empire ruins. It was an unforgettable week.

Dream trip destination?

At some point in life, I dream about renting a car and traveling from Costa del Sol, past Costa dels Tarongers, and Costa del Maresme in Spain, cruising the glamorous Cote d’Azur (French Riviera) in France and ending at Cinqueterre, Italy. A good four-month summer drive that could fill many pages in our life journals.

Favorite dinner?

Anything seafood! And include pasta, even better!

All-in-all and a classic which I love is the Risotto ai frutti di Mare (or with linguini pasta, but to be sure—seafood on white sauce) but, if it is a Risotto Nero (with octopus ink), I am very happy as well.

Favorite dessert?

To close a meal, my dessert requirement is a mix of sweet acidic flavors from fruit paired with a traditional sweet crust or meringue. I fall for a good Pavlova dessert, but if chocolate is around, then I melt for a chocolate ganache with passion fruit, which cuts the dense taste of the chocolate. My friend Micheline Etkin is a magician with passion fruit and chocolate with her famous Brigadeiros—and frequently disrupts my diet.

Underrated food?

A good blue cheese burger with bacon and BBQ sauce, accompanied by my favorite dry gin martini. Finish that with some chunks of fresh fruit, and the simplicity of this meal usually beats the most complex of dishes.

Dish you’re best at cooking?

Hands down, a seafood paella made with original bomba rice.

Best meal you’ve had at a restaurant?

A celebration with very close friends to celebrate the anniversary of a close family friend at the French Laundry in Yountville, California. We ordered the chef’s meal by chef Thomas Keller, which was paired with wines and spirits, while being surrounded with music from a live string music quartet, a room full of button white roses in little gold and silver vases and candles of all sizes creating a flickering warmth in the room.

Road trip -- three in the car with you. Living or dead. Who are they? And why?

As a co-pilot, my great-grandfather Domingo with his flamenco guitar. In the back in the right seat is Oprah Winfrey with Simon Doonan to the left behind me. And center stage, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, my favorite writer of all times. I know—that is four. But what a group!

Favorite TV show as a kid?

The Beverly Hillbillies, or as I knew it, Los Beverly Ricos. It was a classic in black and white, dubbed in Castilian with a lisp and Spanish accent, oodles of fun! Imagine Granny with a Spanish temper.

Favorite movies?

I prefer the classics of Hollywood; To Kill a Mockingbird, a book I never read growing up, but a movie that I learned to adore; Any of the James Bond 007 movies, at any time, in any of the many versions, with any Bond; they are a thrilling, sensual and sexual experience to the eye. In contrast, to me, Kill Bill makes Tarantino the genius that he is, and on those rainy romantic days, you can’t go wrong with Sofia Coppola’s version of Maria Antionette.

Favorite actress and or actor?

Maggie Smith side by side with Meryl Streep and Julianne Moore. They each incarnate the character during their performances. As far as the dudes are concerned—Sir Anthony Hopkins, Richard Dreyfuss and Dustin Hoffman have demonstrated their incredible ability to be someone that they are not. Truly remarkable work!

Favorite bands?

Presuntos Implicados, a contemporary jazz band from Spain who’s incredible 80’s success brought back the bossa-nova, soft jazz and ballads in my native language.

Most impressive live performance you ever saw?

It was a poetry reading with acrobats combined with live music in the backyard under a 300-year-old olive tree that is part of the residence of a couple of my dear friends, who I met while I was living in Europe. I remodeled their house in Montecito, California, and one of the owners, Fiorella, always had the idea to use the backyard as an impromptu theater. The hills in the back and the ocean were part of the yard, which created the perfect environment for aGaslamp and candle-lit dinner/reception with multiple performances (centered on poetry) which met the challenge of making the reading take life! Talk about a truly eclectic combination.

Car you drive now?

A black Infiniti QX50, of course!

Car you’d like to drive?

That would be cars, plural.

A two tone (silver and black) Bentley Azure Grand Tourer to drive around London or to simply stop at Harrod’s. A classic Convertible Spyder or Convertible silver Porsche with red interior while cruising the Amalfi coast or Mykonos. A Jeep Hurricane concept to visit the coffee plantations of my native Colombia. I am dreaming big here!

Best car you’ve owned?

My first convertible was a white Volkswagen Cabriolet with white interior. It was my first car when I moved to Phoenix, which broke down 20 minutes after the air conditioning was on. I thought it was a good idea to own a fun convertible in a warm climate. Well, no one told me that this was not warm, it was hot! And no one told me that it was a ‘cheerleader’ car, since in Europe, the VW convertible was a fun, summer cruising car. In any event, I was just staying here for a summer and that car was heaven-sent, compared to taking buses in Phoenix (in 1998).

Motorcycle?

Well, if I am cruising along the US1 From Morro Bay to Carmel-By-The-Sea, California I would ride a 2019 Harley-Davidson Iron 1200, and if I am between Palm Springs and Los Angeles, my ride would be a Ecosse-es-1-Superbike, in black with chrome accents to match my aviator grey fog mirror lenses sunglasses, and paired with my leather jacket and gloves by Tom Ford. Now, if I happen to be in Rome during a spring/summer season, I ought to roll a Piaggio Vespa 946 or better yet, the 2017 Vespa 946 Emporio Armani Edition, and I will be dressed head-to-toe in Armani, to match the monochromatic shade of cobalt with my blue suit!

Wear a watch?

Yes, always. While it is not necessarily for keeping time, a strong watch is one of the few statement pieces of jewelry for men. I like big watches which have weight and style.

Got a favorite watch?

We own two Brera Orologi watches that are not produced anymore, but a third one for the collection ought to come soon. The Brera Orologi Super Sportivo Black in black is calling my name.

Got a dream watch?

For day-to-day, a Breitling Navimiter 1 B01 Chronograph in all black is calling my attention, but in reality, that is a dream that Santa will need to address. My name is written all over the Stainless-Steel Alligator 38mm Santos 100th Anniversary Edition by Cartier.

Summer drink of choice?

Nonalcoholic? Orangina! This classic Mediterranean drink is one that you can pair with a dry white wine. I also enjoy a super-chilled tamarind juice that is hard to come by around here. My mouth waters for fruit that has a little acidic tone with a fructose base.

Winter drink of choice?

Hendricks Martini with blue cheese olives, shaken, dry and clean!

Bourbon or Scotch?

Scotch, and if so, on the rocks (no water or soda added), just plain and strong! The last time I had a Glenlivet 50 Year Malt and it was simply celestial!

Vodka or gin?

Gin! As my taste reacts to gin like no other. It is a drink of choice, and I drink it as a martini, as a gin and tonic, as gin on the rocks, or many other mixologist braves inventive combinations. I tend to fluctuate between Hendricks and Bombay Sapphire.

I have not tasted the Nolet Reserve Gin from the Netherlands, and I heard it is delightful. Next time I have a sip of it, I’ll report back to you!

Cologne?

Out of the new colognes on the market, Fucking Fabulous by Tom Ford, is my choice strictly for winter as it is very heavy and strong.

I wear Sole di Positano and Fleur de Portofino, from the same line, for spring and summer. The latter has a note of gardenias that some gents will have to take a risk to understand the smell of clear, clean summer flowers in the Mediterranean.

Go-to red on a wine list?

Tempranillo! A very small grape that gives its red wine deep tones and bright finishes, and my favorites come from Rioja Valley in Spain which that produces the most intricate wines in terms of flavor and bouquet. In that variety, the Marqués de Caceres, Gran Reserva is one of my go-to table wines. For those days when I forget about budget, the Domino de Pingus from the Quintanilla de Onésimo in Ribera del Duero -from the last decade—is simply joyful to the taste.

Go-to white?

While red is my choice for most evenings and dinners, I go for Rieslings at cocktail parties and brunches. On the light side, I prefer Château Ste. Michelle, as well as their EROICA, which is a partnership between German and Washington wineries, are two that stand out with light tones and soft volume. Depending on the occasion and the crowd, something I learned from my dear friend Billie Jo Herberger, adding a little ice cube will help ease whites which are too tart.

Favorite beach?

I appreciate the deep blue of the Mediterranean and the colors of the beaches of Spain, Greece and Italy, and smile when I am able to go to Hawai’i, but my heart and the soul is the Caribbean, with the rolling multicolor blue-green ocean. In addition to the many beaches I visited growing up, my most recent favorites include Shoal Bay Beach in Anguilla and Cas Abao Beach in Curaçao. I also love the solitude of Ilet du Gosier in Guadeloupe.

On a Saturday, your favorite errand to run is?

A favorite Saturday plan is to grab the pug and head to the Phoenix Public Market to buy original truffle salt and some amazing crusty breads from local bakeries. On Sunday morning, the truffle salt is a magnificent ingredient of an incredible egg omelet, just like my aunt Rosa use to serve when I was a child. Now as an adult, I am able to pair it with a glass of Prosecco that should be part of the serving!

Otherwise, you’ll be busy doing what?

Of course, our SPIN class with Tasha Mendoza, that is an hour of fun and sweat. The Saturday errands continue with picking-up dry cleaning from our favorite Kachina Dry Cleaners—who have been taking care of us for 20 years, as well as taking Hugo (our rescue pug) to get shampooed and his nails trimmed, and often go to Suitsupply Scottsdale to pick-up or drop-off tailoring for fitting, or drooling over their latest lines of Italian suits.

Best work advice you ever got?

Be consistent, maintain interest in your tasks, no matter if they seem to be a burden. Always think as if you are the client. Inspire your team, so they can inspire you!

Best thing about your career?

I love the ability to blend a highly administrative and financial side of the projects with the necessary technical savvy and combine that with an incredible amount of creativity and design vision. My ability to be part of the growth of my own city and to participate in great decisions at many levels, and the market sector that our projects are part of is the most rewarding part of my career.

What do you do now for work? Tell us something about your work and career path.

Currently, I contribute to the client and project development in my office with a staff of experts, each one with an incredible knowledge in their field. I also contribute in project management for the Lifestyle Studio, which focuses on upscale hospitality. My goal is to be able to be present and be part of the potential projects in our city, bringing the local flair and international experience of our company. I have focused my career on helping to expand the identity of our southwest community as a cosmopolitan environment, through design and boutique urban planning.

Do you have any philanthropic interests/endeavors?

I have served as chair or honorary chair for organizations such as One-n-Ten, Phoenix Children’s Hospital, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Scottsdale Arts, Dress for Success, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, as well as Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona. The curiosity about my style has been the perfect addition as emcee for events where philanthropy is the thread that weave it all, being be host for Women of Scottsdale, Hair Wars, Cortney’s Place, and Make-A-Wish Foundation Kids, amongst many others.

Most recently, my husband, Gary Jackson, and I were honored with the 2019 VYTALITY Individual Award from Valley Youth Theatre, and last year, I was recognized for my efforts in the community by the Arizona House of Representatives.

I have been a board member for Scottsdale Arts for 12 years, and recently I joined the board of Friends of Phoenix Public Art.