How to make gravy, Ep. 8

Perriann (Hodges) Diaz has been a go-getter for as long as I’ve known her. I got to know Perriann in 2012 when she volunteered for SDAF during my first year co-chairing Orchids & Onions. She was energetic, bubbly and determined to bring her all as she took on the role of Sponsorship Liaison. It didn’t take long before her leadership and enthusiasm landed her on the board where she contributed in so many ways to help the foundation be the success it is today. An architect, painter and chef (you just have to see her Instagram feed [pun intended] to get all the mouthwatering shots of her cooking) she recently turned back to an old hobby, ceramics, with the same passion to create. Last week she took her ceramics public launching her online store ( showcasing some wonderful one-of-a-kind handmade pieces, so I wanted to check in with one of our favorite former directors to see what she’s been up to…


(PD): How did you get involved in the San Diego Architectural Foundation?


(Perriann): During my studies at the NewSchool of Architecture & Design I joined the board of the local AIA Student Chapter. Seeing the opportunity created a new role called the ‘Community Service Chair’ to take advantage of community service as a way to accomplish the education hours for my accreditation. This role gave me the opportunity to connect with all of the local non-profits connected to the built environment, including the San Diego Architectural Foundation. Initially I volunteered for the Orchids & Onions program, that was my foot in the door shortly after I graduated. From there I connected with directors such as yourself and Maxine Ward (the president of SDAF at the time) to enquire about volunteering some time as a way of getting myself into a position in an office. The recession was still affecting the industry so this was my way of showing my passion and enthusiasm to join a great firm. 


(PD):  I remember that! My firm was (and still is) quite small, so while you interned some time with us (DBRDS), it was Maxine who saw your potential and brought you into Studio E Architects right?


(Perriann): Yes. I really enjoyed my time with Studio E, I was there five years focused on a range of projects from education to low-income housing. With that experience I wanted a new challenge and so I moved over to Hanna Gabriel Wells (HGW) Architects to focus on a specific project which I was able to work on from start to finish during my three years there.


(PD): How many years were you on the SDAF Board and what do you feel was your biggest achievement during your tenure?


(Perriann): Three years on the board and during my final year I was also on the Executive Committee. I had several roles, from being Co-Chair of Orchids & Onions, to assisting with the rebranding and new website process, and I actually set up SDAF’s Instagram account. Biggest achievement – the curation of the 40th Anniversary of the Orchids & Onions program (with Co-Chair Lauren Kim) for sure. Being part of the rebranding and website was fun. But working alongside Lauren to create the  anniversary celebration, seeing our largest attendance, all of the volunteers and so on, that was a big deal.


(PD): What have you been up to lately?


(Perriann): My project at HGW Architects came to a close in the summer of 2020 and unfortunately there wasn’t work to transition me onto due to the pandemic and I was let go. HGW was a great team and I really appreciate my time there. When the pandemic hit they did everything possible to keep me on, they gave me office work, anything to keep me on but as time went on they had to let me go and I don’t hold that against them at all. When that happened I wanted to stay busy so I turned to baking. I love cooking so much and even did a ‘food photography’ course so I could really capture my food while practicing my photography. At the same time I got back into ceramics which is something that I have really loved for a very long time (my ceramics journey started as a high school sophomore). 


(PD): I remember you were into ceramics a few years ago, in fact you actually gifted a couple of really nice pieces to our office. I see the stuff your doing now and it has an architectural feel to it, is that intentional?


(Perriann): Totally, I get a lot of inspiration from my architecture. In both disciplines I practice balance, repetition, the study of light, and the iconic “form vs function.” A lot of the topographic-type lines and carving is fluid and made up as I go, I don’t have a plan, I just start carving to see where it goes. The hardest part is actually knowing when to stop, when its enough, when its just right. Sometimes you can go too far and it becomes obnoxious, finding that balance is a process. With ceramics every time you touch the piece you are affecting it, so its not like in architecture where you can over design but also go back, with ceramics its more delicate. I’m a member at a local studio that holds classes. On Friday nights they do two-hour workshops for people interested in learning, where they teach you the steps and you can actually walk away with something you made, it’s pretty cool.


(PD): What’s the name of the studio?


(Perriann): Its called Mud Lily Clay, up on Adams Avenue in North Park near Polite Provisions. Check them out here:


(PD): So where can people buy your ceramics?


(Perriann): My website is the place to see everything I do. I’ve had my recipes and food photography up there for a while and now I’m adding my ceramics so you can see all my work and purchase right from there. I’ve actually got some new sculptural pieces that I’ve been working on for a while but I am yet to publish – so stay tuned for some new and exciting works coming soon (Hint: They’re interconnected donuts that are actually functioning tea pots! I can’t wait to show them off). Both my food and ceramics can be found on my IG account:@perrianndiaz. If you want to see behind the scenes and sneak peaks, I post all of that to my IG stories.


(PD): Super appreciate you making some time to catch up, I’m really glad you’re doing well and staying creative. There are so many creative outlets available to us and I love that you are taking your architectural education and letting that inspire your new endeavors.


(Perriann): You got it Pauly, thank you.



So there you have it, one of SDAF’s brightest former directors staying creative and showcasing her talents in the ceramics world. Take a few minutes to check out her store, even better buy a piece and connect with a local rock star doing fun and fantastic things.

Cheers, Pauly.

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