Inside Venice Beach's Coolest Female-Run Architecture Studio
Electric Bowery schools us on style.
There's something about architecture that always is so fascinating. It truly takes a unique mind to be able to master that mix of design, mathematics, and execution required to actually construct a building. So when we learned about Electric Bowery, a female-led studio that has created spaces ranging from gorgeous restaurants to homes of cool folks around town, we had to dig a little deeper.
The Venice Beach-based company is run by managing partners Cayley Lambur and Lucia Bartholomew. After meeting in the offices of Gehry Partners, the pair decided to take their eye for design into their own hands and founded Electric Bowery in 2013. Now, the company has grown into a full-service multidisciplinary studio that completes incredible projects along with its tight-knit team.
We asked the pair to share what it's like to be partners-in-design and how they find inspiration to create their amazing works. Read ahead to get an inside look into their cool careers.
Lonny: How did each of you come to find a passion for architecture and interiors?
Cayley Lambur & Lucia Bartholomew: Both of us have always been interested and active in creative fields — painting, photography, writing — but the nature of architecture and interiors had a tangible element we each adored and found connection with early on. We love bringing creative energy to our immediate world — homes, hotels, restaurants — where people live and connect!
How did you both decide to go into business together and create your own firm?
C.L. & L.B.: We met at a “starchitect” office where we worked, each in small roles in overwhelmingly large projects. We continually felt like we could be much more creative on a more tangible scale, and we envisioned starting our own office together. When we finally made that leap we began working with Cayley’s mother, Deborah Scott, and her firm out of Toronto, by forming a L.A. branch of Scott Morris Architects LTD. This provided invaluable experience and helped us establish a portfolio. We rebranded in 2015 to Electric Bowery, and have developed a more boutique body of work, ranging from high-end residences to resorts.
What do you find to be the biggest sources of inspiration for your work?
C.L. & L.B.: Our clients! We are lucky to have a really interesting and eclectic clientele, including artists and scientists, whose passions always bring something new to the project we wouldn’t have foreseen; from their interest in a certain cultural reference which provides us aesthetic inspiration, to their unique style of living that drives a more specific spatial planning approach. Inspiration emerges in a variety of ways but always begins with listening and observing.
Living in Venice, we can’t help but be inspired by the California indoor/outdoor lifestyle, and we try to bring that into our work whatever the project is — weather dependent! Other designers and architects are always inspiring us as well, along with classic and timeless pieces of architecture around the world. We travel as much as we are able to maintain curiosity and a sense of reverence.
What is your design process like?
C.L. & L.B.: We generally work together to get the initial concept design going, meeting with our clients and really spending time to listen and understand their specific needs. Each project is different for us. While we always see a consistent thread throughout all projects (modern yet warm, with a rich palette of natural and handmade materials), we love the opportunity to work in different styles — with
influences ranging from mid-century to modern Mexican, among other styles. Once we have a strong sense of the project objectives and essence, we start working more closely with our internal team to bring it to life.
How do you split the work between each other?
C.L. & L.B.: We share most tasks — we work very closely together. Sometimes one of us will be more closely involved in a project, but we always collaborate to review design decisions. We do our best work together and have more fun!
What have been the biggest challenges for Electric Bowery?
C.L. & L.B.: One of the biggest challenges is learning to say no to projects that don’t seem like the right fit. We’ve been lucky to find amazing clients, and have learned to be careful not to compromise the time that we invest in them with taking on too many projects.
Do either of you have a favorite project you have worked on so far?
C.L. & L.B.: Honestly, our favorite project is always whichever one we’re working on at the moment. Currently, we’re very excited about the hotel work that we’re doing in Silver Lake and the Hudson Valley in New York, as well as several really unique custom homes in the Venice area.
What do you love most about your job?
C.L. & L.B.: Working closely with our incredible clients, meeting new and interesting people, and watching them fall in love with their projects as they come to life!
What excites you about the future of Electric Bowery?
C.L. & L.B.: We’re excited to expand our portfolio and work in new locations! We’ve been lucky to grow via word of mouth in California and New York, and we’re excited to continue to work in new parts of the country, as well as internationally.