Trevor Zellet
Paul Wellman

“Oh look, we have created enchantment,” says Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire, as she puts a paper lantern on a naked light bulb. I always think of that classic movie scene when I see Trevor Zellet at work, whether he, as owner of Bella Vista Designs, is lighting up a wedding or a fundraiser or one of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival affairs.

For the past two decades, this industrious man — who’s also a co-owner of the Arlington Tavern — has been making sure that functions on the South Coast are full of atmosphere with his impeccable lighting designs, fabric treatments, and audio/visual elements.

He took time away from his aesthetic world to answer the Proust questionnaire.

What do you like most about your job?

Everything. The creativity, being outdoors, meeting new people, and finding myself in the most beautiful environments that Santa Barbara has to offer. I also am really a techie at heart and love being on that side of things for Santa Barbara’s premiere special events.

What is your motto?

“There are seven things that will destroy us: Wealth without work; Pleasure without conscience; Knowledge without character; Religion without sacrifice; Politics without principle; Science without humanity; Business without ethics,” by Mahatma Gandhi. This is actually a good friend Heidi Whitcomb’s motto, but I like it so much that I thought I would steal it. I’m sure Gandhi would approve of sharing.

Which historical figure do you most identify with?

I am going with Johnny Appleseed. I like his style in trying to help out others and, according to my grandma, I am related to him.

What is your most marked characteristic?

Internalizing everything. Emotions, problems…you name it (too late for therapy).

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Having my family, friends, and staff thriving in this beautiful town.

What is your greatest fear?

Those little devil looking insects, I believe they’re called potato bugs. They are the product of my nightmares.

Who do you most admire?

I most admire families or individuals around the world who have become victims against their will, yet continue to live, endure and maintain a cheerful disposition.

What is your greatest extravagance?


What is your current state of mind?

Peace and love. Always.

What is the quality you most like in people?

Strong ethics, honesty, and a good attitude.

What is the quality you most dislike in people?

The exact opposite of the above answer.

What do you most value in friends?

A good time.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

“No problem.”

Which talent would you most like to have?

Telepathy. It’s more of a superpower than a talent, but still awesome.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

Nothing. I’m like Mary Poppins, “practically perfect in every way”. J/K.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

My daughter, Gaia.

Where would you most like to live?

I mean…Santa Barbara is pretty ideal. From my experiences, even traveling to some of the most beautiful places on earth, Santa Barbara is always nice to come back to.

What is your most treasured possession?

My health.

Who makes you laugh the most?

My beautiful new nephews, Jackson and Aiden.

On what occasion do you lie?

What does that word mean?


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