Designing physical spaces is a dance between our internal desires and the practicalities of our external surroundings. Architects Lucia Bartholomew and Cayley Lambur have closely observed the shifts in this dynamic since they founded Electric Bowery, an architecture and interior design firm based in Venice, California, a decade ago.
“It’s been interesting to see people thinking differently about their lives and their homes,” says Bartholomew. Electric Bowery taps into recent currents, in which “the lines between work and play” have become blurred. “That’s happening in both residential and hospitality [projects],” says Bartholomew. “We’re taking the best qualities from both of those typologies and infusing them in one another,” Lambur adds.
Their mission to design “for a life well-lived” applies to the portfolio of warm, refined and locale-specific homes, hotels, and restaurants located throughout California and in other states such as New York, Utah, and New Mexico. The ethos applies whether they are creating a bespoke home from scratch, reimagining a challenging urban site into the buzzy Silver Lake Pool & Inn in Los Angeles—with an elevated pool deck inspired in part by Mexican modernism—or sensitively rehabilitating the 30 guest rooms and suites at the rambling, historic Casa Cody in Palm Springs. The Spanish Colonial Revival and ranch-style cottages are filled with a mix of contemporary and vintage furnishings, in a rich palette that honors the romantic desert retreat’s past.
The firm’s process begins with a deep dive into the interests and passions of their clients, many of whom work in the creative industries. “We’re very concept-driven and get excited about how we can elevate an idea to make it more exciting and experiential,” Lambur says.
A residential compound that the firm designed and built on a large lot in Venice illustrates this approach. While a relatively spacious 5,000 sq ft house with only two bedrooms might not make much sense for resale, it serves as a sanctuary for its inhabitants, with dedicated zones for yoga, meditation, and creating art. Travertine exterior cladding, custom plaster and woodwork, and lighting fixtures by design industry favorite Apparatus make for a calm, immersive environment. Understated structures, ample window openings and doorways, and intimate alfresco seating vignettes encourage indoor-outdoor living. The landscaping, by Terremoto, another LA-based firm (and frequent Electric Bowery collaborator) features native planting.
In the hospitality sphere, “what used to be a lobby is being transformed into a place that is more like a living room, where you can sit and linger,” Bartholomew observes. Electric Bowery’s first hotel project—the Wildflower Farms resort in New York’s Hudson Valley, which opened in 2022—is a case in point. The architecture of the 65-key property, composed of freestanding cabins with angular roofs and earthy materials, feels deeply Scandinavian. The relationship to the outdoors and emphasis on sustainability were ways of “bringing California into the project,” Bartholomew says. The buildings sit delicately on the land, with direct access to the grounds from the guest rooms and dramatic views from the restaurant and spa. New York City-based design firm Ward + Gray helped introduce classic Americana into the interiors. The resort immediately drew accolades: House Beautiful magazine appreciated how, “thanks to the careful consideration of the cabins in the topography, it almost immediately feels as if one is alone in nature.”