R. THOMAS GUNKELMAN

Principal: GunkelmanFlesher Interior Design

Born: Fargo, N.D., youngest of nine.

Education: Graduated from North Dakota State University in 1954 with a major in business and history and minor in art, architecture and psychology.

After that: Moved to Pasadena, Calif; spent seven months in Europe.

Different direction: Unlike his four brothers, did not follow his father in the grain business.

First job: "Doing kitchen curtains. I was 27."

Memorable project: O'Shaughnessy Winery in Napa for Minnesotan Betty O'Shaughnessy

What he'd save if the house were on fire: "Me! I don't know what I'd take with me. I'd have to take it all."

On the bedside table: Departures magazine. "I'm not a bed reader. If I do I only last about one minute."

The "R" is for: Richard

Favorite architects: Mies van der Rohe, Philip Johnson, Hugh Newell Jacobsen, Robert Stern. In town,Tim Alt.

Favorite food: "I don't dislike anything. I like experimental food.''

People would never guess you ...: "live this simply."

GUNKELMAN BY THE NUMBERS

Age: 80 on July 13

1963: Year he purchased Black Interiors

1976: Year it became Gunkelman Interior Design.

Projects he's designed: 400 +

Couches he's ordered recovered: 400 +

Number of assistants he's had: 20 +

Most expensive accessory used: $250,000 tapestry

Least expensive accessory used: $1 soap dish

Buses designed: 4

Presidential administrations since he's began designing: 11