Q & A
Regional Award Winner
Cynthia Carlson received a M. Arch from SCI-Arc/Southern California Institute of Architecture in 1990. Prior to the establishment of Dotterweich Carlson Mehner in 2010, and its recent offshoot, CYNTHIA CARLSON ASSOCIATES, Inc., her professional experience included work on numerous high-end residential commissions, often in collaboration with noted interior designers, helping them to realize their built work.
She spent seven years at Kerry Joyce Associates, Los Angeles, including three as Design Director where she oversaw the design and construction of large custom estates. Earlier in her career Cynthia gained corporate experience at Skidmore Owings & Merrill and Keating Mann Jernigan Rottet. She resides in Los Angeles where she shares an office space and staff with her husband, Tiemo Mehner, who also practices design and architecture with a separate focus on specialized commercial projects for technology clients.
Where do you find design inspiration?
TRAVEL. My husband is German so we go to Europe often, invariably straying far off the beaten path to seek out art and architecture that we find significant, whether it be centuries old or newly executed.
SLOW FOOD. I am a follower of the Slow Food movement and have found that if you seek out slow food, particularly in places where longstanding cultural traditions have been kept alive or revived, it is inevitably accompanied by a beautiful aesthetic.
MY FRIEND'S HOUSES. My good friends tend to be visual types and I derive a lot of inspiration from their ways of inhabiting and personalizing their spaces.
BLOGS. I love to get lost on the internet and see where it takes me. Platforms such as Tumblr. bring out a lot of unsung design aesthetes who enjoy sharing their personal visions in a relatively anonymous way.
How do you approach the design process?
Firstly, I try to get a very comprehensive understanding of the client's needs and tastes as well as the various parameters of the project. Then I work on developing a formal language which informs the design of the project and is carried throughout it. This process enables me to work in a variety of styles depending on the wishes of the client. I would also say that there is always a certain amount of restraint in my work. I hate it when things are over-designed.
What makes your aesthetic stand out amongst other designers?
My background in architecture and my years of experience in both the corporate world and in boutique firms bring a conceptual and formal rigor to my design process which I try to adhere to in my projects. This is a quality that can't always be explained to a client but that can be seen and almost more importantly, FELT in the built work. (In the end, the design FEELS right).
What is the greatest value you provide to your clients?
I think I am a good listener and I bring a lot of experience within the profession to the table, having really paid my dues. Plus I am very practical and never overly excessive in my designs. And then of course there is taste.