work = love

playground is a boutique design and concept firm based in sunny San Diego. We are a full-service firm and work on a wide variety of projects, including restaurants, bars and hospitality projects as well as multi-family, mixed use projects and high-end residential design. Our firm is based on a multidisciplinary approach that informs our aesthetic, as well as our process. We are focused on human-centric design, creating immersive, nuanced spaces that are evocative, transformative and never ordinary. We consider our approach to be storytelling through design, creating cohesive narratives that span all corners of a space, building an authentic experience that is woven through each element. No detail is too small, no obstacle too big--we love it all and love helping our clients, friends and colleagues to make the world a more beautiful place to live, work, relax, connect, eat, drink or shop, one space at a time. 

Never Ordinary

We believe that love is found in the small details that make up each and every project. Our collective consciousness drives us to create  spaces, brands and experiences that are equal parts elegance and irreverence. Walking this fine line between refinement and play, we spend our time striking the balance and juxtaposing the many different things that inspire us on a daily basis. 

Our Philosophy

We believe in timeless over trendy and quality over quantity. We believe that design has the power to change our world and shape our future--that good design makes a difference. We believe that design is for everyone. We believe that how you do anything is how you do everything. We believe that inspiration is everywhere. We believe in playing big, in taking risks and in having a whole lot of fun along the way. We believe that work is love and legacy. 


the team

Bradley Schnell

PRINCIPAL

Bradley Schnell is the principal and founder of playground. With a design sensibility defined by his bi-coastal aesthetic his work ranges from radical modernist structures to restaurants and luxe residential ranches.

Before earning his Masters in Architecture, Bradley worked on some of the nation's best known advertising and branding campaigns in LA. Bradley founded playground with an understanding that design functions best when it is highly collaborative and interdisciplinary, merging branding and graphic design with building and interiors to create cohesive, seamless experiences. Bradley’s work runs the gamut from experimental to traditional, reflecting his background as an artist, historian and explorer. 

He is a reformed academic, a former collegiate athlete and always willing to debate the merits of social theory and design equity with anyone willing to listen. In his free time, you'll likely find him in the kitchen, preparing the most gorgeously plated food and cocktails. 

What you should try to accomplish is built meaning. So get close to meaning and build!
— Aldo van Eyck

kristine schnell

CREATIVE DIRECTOR

kristine schnell is the creative director and co-founder of playground. Enthralled with art, design and the built environment from a young age, she's known for designing elegant spaces with a unique edge. With a classical education in art, architecture and design, her love of beautiful details has taken her around the world in search of the exquisite, from the ruins of Greece to the rolling hills of Tuscany, exploring the markets of Mexico City to sourcing one-of-a-kind ceramics in southern China. As the chief creative vision behind both commercial and residential projects, Kristine brings an encyclopedic library of visual knowledge, blending classical styles with an equal sense of restraint and irreverence. An avid reader, kristine also enjoys writing about design, working as a contributor for Dwell and San Diego Home and Garden, among other industries publications. 

She is a voracious reader, a former ballerina and dreams in French when she’s had a very good day. When she’s not designing, you’ll find Kristine traveling the world in search of the exquisite, sipping rose in Sonoma or paddle boarding around San Diego’s beautiful bays. Adores champagne, fine leather goods and creating signature spaces.

I’m very much down to earth, just not this earth.
— Karl Lagerfeld

Greg Van de Velde

CHIEF OPERATIONS OFFICER

Greg Van de Velde brings 20 years of hospitality experience in both the U.S. and Italy to the playground team. As a partner in some of San Diego's most celebrated restaurants, Greg brings an in-depth knowledge of functional hospitality design, including all details of front and back of house and guest experience. He's also our go-to for developing beverage programs, menus and retail. 

From managing restaurants grossing more than $11 million dollars in sales annually, Greg has expertise in all sides of restaurant and hospitality business. With a slew of award-winning restaurant experiences under his belt, Greg is our go-to for all things hospitality. 

He's a family man at heart and an industry insider with over 20 years of experience operating some of the best hospitality concepts in southern California. Greg exemplifies pure hospitality--you can definitely count on your glass remaining full when Greg's in a room.

Knowing others is intelligence, knowing yourself is wisdom. Mastering others is strength. Mastering yourself is true power.
— Lao Tzo
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Andy Schiffer

JUNIOR DESIGNER

Andy is a designer at playground and helps with all stages of projects from concept to construction management. His expertise in 3D modeling and visualization help bring playground projects to life. With a human centric philosophy of design, his levelheaded and diligent approach to projects adds depth and personality to the work. Growing up with the family contracting business, he brings a practical approach to creative design. Fluent in Spanish and proficient enough in Italian to get himself into trouble, he loves to travel and is always looking for the next great adventure.  When not hard at work, he can be spotted cruising through downtown on his red bicycle. 

He's a little quirky and a lot of fun. From killer impersonations to a pretty impressive sock collection, there's never a dull moment with Andy in the office. 

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Ernesto Becerra

DESIGNER

Ernesto is a designer at playground and loves bringing ideas from your head into the physical world, no matter how simple or exuberant they may be. He's a pro at creating detailed sketches, 3D models and will draft the drawings you need to make it a reality.

After receiving his Bachelors in Architecture from the University of Arizona, he moved to Monterey, California where he worked on high-end custom residential, commercial and industrial projects. He enjoys working on all scales of the project from the massing of the building envelope to the detailing of the nuts and bolts. Finding a holistic approach to resolve problems and making a positive impact on the world is what motivates Ernesto on a daily basis. His understanding of culture, architecture styles and preservation of the built environment comes from his travels to more than 19 countries in North America, Europe and Asia.

When not working, he goes into explore mode. Ernesto enjoys visiting local restaurants and events with his wife and is always on the look out to see who has the best food, drinks and entertainment in town.

Jessica Pinera

DESIGN ASSISTANT

Jessica is an interior designer and a wearer-of-many hats at playground. Her love for design comes not only from her strong desire to create beautiful spaces, but most importantly from her passion for helping others. She believes that a great design inspires others to see not only the beauty of a space, but the significance of everything that makes it whole; a connection to and a reflection of the people in the space and their unique traits and lifestyle. Growing up in a military family and living in different countries like the Philippines and Germany, she developed a love for travel, exploring other cultures, and meeting people wherever she goes.

When she is not in the office, you will likely find her in the gym, cooking in the kitchen, outdoors with friends, or unwinding with a movie. 

 

Natalie Reed

OFFICE MANAGER

Natalie is playground's Office Manager and has a passion for organization.  She finds beauty in the details of creating order and maintains that quality throughout our materials library and project records and files.  Her years of office administration experience keep us running smoothly and efficiently.  She is always quick with a smile and a joke, or a cup of coffee!

When not in the office, Natalie can be found gardening, reading or trying a new recipe.  She spends much of her time with family, which usually entails running after her energetic two year old daughter or partaking in impromptu living room dance parties.

Peter Schnell

MASCOT

Peter is playground's resident office dog, official greeter and mascot. Frequently found sunbathing, his work ethic has been called into question many times but his sense of humor and big smiles have continued to secure his place as part of the team.