When Sam sits down with a client, they can be sure he's hearing their message. "Every successful client relationship begins with attentive listening," suggests Sam, a senior healthcare designer in SmithGroup's San Francisco Health Studio. "Listening is the springboard for understanding, exploration and discovery." Sam takes clients' messages to heart, but also works to push them beyond their comfort zone and "discover the gem in every project," as he puts it. We think he's on to something. Sam's designs are unusually artful, often integrating nature and light. Is it any surprise that he holds a soft spot for the sensory overload that is Italy? He'd spend his dream week in "some small town where I could be drenched in the local culture, eat simple, elegant food, and enjoy a glass of locally crafted vino." No doubt at a café, listening carefully to the locals.