Aug 10, 2012
Fab Friday with Michael Lehrer
RB: I'd love to hear a little bit about your design process.ML: Projects last from weeks to years. We are in construction on several wonderful, inexpensive homes in South LA that we were hired to design about 3 months ago. We just had a house in Architectural Digest that was a 12 year process and cost many, many, many times the amount of money. Excellent outcomes are the fix under all circumstances.
RB: You're all about community. Why do you think it's so important?ML: Community is important because ultimately, it’s all we got. We are part of so many communities at once. Giving form to community, and to its aspirations, to its vision of its best self—is the foundational act of the architect. I love building community. Love it. RB: What would you say is the key to your success? ML: I do what I love. The word “architect” still has magical qualities for me; over 300 buildings, dozens of major design awards, almost 35 years in practice, and 50 years since I decided to be an architect. I still can't quite believe that I am actually an architect that gets things built...and they can even be a bit beautiful. RB: How would you describe your own home decor? ML: Mia and I live in a home in the Los Feliz District of Los Angeles. It is where I was born and bred. The home was built in 1926. It is 3 stories high, with commanding views of greater LA. When we bought the house, it was sold to us as a one-story, 2,000 sf house with an attic and a basement. It felt that way except the basement was above ground and the attic was a 2,000 square foot space with a peaked roof 20 feet above. Interventions have been to open it up to light and landscape over the years. Sensibility is Modernist, but built of 1920’s bones. My studio was in the top floor “attic” for 20 years before I bought my warehouse building in Silverlake, 7 years ago. Our 3 children grew up with a design studio—employees and projects—above their head and part of their lives; and I was present for their entire childhood. RB: I always ask this question, because people in the art and design world tend to have such great answers! What is element of your home that everyone always comments on? ML: The house, 3 stories of activity and places is like a treehouse. It is fun, full of interesting places, and tied very much to the LA landscape with views of the big mountains to the east, the Hollywood Hills to the north and west, the Pacific to the southwest and Downtown to the South east. RB: What does fabulous mean to you? ML: I have several superlatives that are a regular part of my vocabulary. Fabulous isn’t a stalwart, but it is a great word. When something is fabulous it probably is approaching flamboyant, but not; it almost is beyond belief, but it is not; and it produces a huge smile of delight and satisfaction.