Cayley Lambur and Lucia Bartholomew met in 2010 on their first day at Frank Gehry’s architecture firm in Los Angeles, but they embraced similar paths long before. There was study abroad program in Rome they both partook of (Bartholomew as a student at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts and Lambur as a student at Cornell University), for example, as well as their respective post-grad chapters in New York, where Lambur worked at Raphael Viñoly Architects and Bartholomew was brought on to the World Trade Center project at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM). At Gehry Partners, “we walked in at the same time and were on the same project team,” Lambur recalls. “That’s how we got to know each other, and we became close friends quickly.”
As Lambur and Bartholomew’s relationship deepened, it became clear that a like-minded practice of their own was in their future. Lambur’s architect mother became a mentor, helping them build a portfolio and launch as a branch of her Toronto firm Scott Morris Architects (now Scott Shields Architects) before the duo rebranded as Electric Bowery in 2013.
The firm’s ethos is centered on projects and concepts that are “intimate and more in line with the way we live our lives and not so distant as some of the things we were working on at Frank Gehry’s office like the Guggenheim in Abu Dhabi,” says Lambur.
In the beginning, before settling into their Venice, California office (Lambur is now based in Big Sur, Bartholomew in Santa Barbara), the duo operated out of Lambur’s garage. “Our first employee was someone who knocked on the door and wanted a job when we were getting busy, and we said, ‘Come on in and help us.’ Things got a little bit more official from there,” says Bartholomew.
During the early days of Electric Bowery, the focus was solely on architecture, but it has organically evolved into interior design (Stephanie Luk, formerly of AvroKO, is director of interiors), with the well-rounded team “taking it all the way through down to styling, flatware, dishware, all of those pieces,” adds Lambur.
The studio made a splash last year with the opening of Wildflower Farms, part of the Auberge Resorts Collection. The Hudson Valley property, featuring interiors by New York firm Ward + Gray, was Electric Bowery’s first foray into hospitality and led to additional projects, including Palisociety’s Silver Lake Pool & Inn in Los Angeles and the Casetta Group’s Casa Cody in Palm Springs (where they spearheaded the interior design).
Electric Bowery is teaming up with Casetta once again on Hotel Willa in Taos, New Mexico; the soft-opened Marina Riviera in Big Bear; and Hotel Lucile in Los Angeles, the revamp of a 1931 church in Silver Lake. Two roadside motel renovations in Estes Park, Colorado, are also in the works. “With every project, we want to prioritize an indoor-outdoor connection,” says Bartholomew.
Guided by the tagline “design for a life well-lived,” Electric Bowery’s mission is to emphasize the small moments. In hospitality especially, Bartholomew says, there is also a growing desire to bring a more nuanced, handcrafted sensibility to the forefront, “thinking a bit more like you would for your own home.”
This article originally appeared in HD’s July 2023 issue.