Kara Bartelt and Michael Chung
Our dream project is a post office, a school or a civic building where everyone has to go a grand space that addresses the community, says Kara Bartelt, one half of the team that started Lettuce, among the freshest architecture-and-design firms to come around in a while.
Taking inspiration from Charles and Ray Eames all-encompassing roof-to-chairs-to-films business model, Bartelt and her partner Michael Chung, both graduates of the Yale School of Architecture, were looking for a way to break out of the traditional confines of architecture when they created their multimedia/design think tank. They even employ an in-house color consultant. And through Landon Cole, theyve designed their own line of furniture to extend their idea of a modern design-build practice.
(Photo by Kevin Scanlon)
L.A. fosters that kind of sensibility, comments Chung. Its what motivated our decision to move here. We investigated a lot of places New York, Copenhagen. There is space here that provides opportunity.
Bartelt adds, Antonio [Villaraigosa] is someone who understands the role of good architecture. Thats refreshing.
Although its considered risky to incorporate Lettuces kind of one-stop design shopping, Chung and Bartelt are used to high-pressure projects. They worked for Cesar Pellis busy architecture firm upon graduating, and their first Lettuce project was a Cape Codstyle home in Pacific Palisades for the editor of Architectural Digest.
Chung and Bartelt are on the faculty at USC, under the direction of new dean Qingyun Ma, and theyre currently overseeing their first ground-up house in the Hollywood Hills. Like the majority of their projects, the house uses environmentally sound materials.
Green is very important, Chung says. Its part of every conversation now. Sustainability is not a specialty anymore, its reality. While the products are still at a premium, we make the math work.
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