A+D Partner Spotlight: LPA Design Studios, Chris Lentz
We recently interviewed Chris Lentz of LPA Design Studios, where she shares some of the biggest lessons learned throughout her career, as well as her favorite music and cocktails.
1. Tell me a little bit about your professional background.
I grew up in Kansas City and moved to California for the weather of course. LPA Design Studios was originally located in the downtown circle of Orange and I loved the atmosphere of the area. It has an old town vibe that felt very friendly. I had always wanted to be working in an architecture firm, so I applied, and the rest is history. I have been at LPA for 34 years now. Since starting I have received my NCIDQ certification, CID, and our entire firm was challenged to get our LEED AP ID+C certification as well. It was challenging but rewarding because we all helped each other study for the test.
2. Did you have a design mentor?
I feel fortunate to have been at LPA at a time when interior design was first starting. A lot of architects were my mentors, as well as construction superintendents teaching me lessons in the field.
3. What do you enjoy most about what you do?
I love the story and ideation behind projects that tell stories about a client's brand and culture. It’s very challenging to take client goals, ideas, inspiration and bridge that gap to implementation/installation and final occupancy phases. I enjoy the deeper conversations that are required along the way.
4. What is the biggest change in the field you have seen since you started?
Oh boy, well for sure the use of electronics and technology. When I started, we were hand drafting all our presentations! Technology can be a reward and distraction.
5. Have you partnered with G|M on any projects?
The G|M and LPA partnership began on the Temecula Library together. After several other projects together, the current and largest is the infamous County of Orange Superblock Building 16, and we are currently working on Building 14 in downtown Santa Ana.
6. Do you have words of wisdom for young designers?
Understand that your current path is a marathon and not a sprint. Don’t be too hard on yourself if it takes some time to learn all of the aspects of the design industry.
7. If you could teach a design class at the university level, what would the content be focused on?
It would be focused on presentations— teaching students how to design from a practical and poetic perspective. The most successful designers in the industry know-how to sell an idea—starting with the big picture and working down to the small details. To this day I still get so nervous presenting to new clients! To that end, in my class, there would be a presentation every two weeks to elevate communication skills.
8. Do you have a favorite local restaurant?
Juliette’s Kitchen + Bar in Newport is our favorite place to celebrate birthdays, etc. They make great cocktails, too!
9. Do you have a favorite modern classic example of “famous” furniture?
We have the Eames Aluminum Group and classic Eames Lounge Chairs in both dining (white mesh) and lounge (leather) as well as the Nelson Platform Bench. We love how the Herman Miller newer series of Setu family of modern chairs seems influenced by those classic pieces. You cannot go wrong with Eames, right?
10. Drink of choice (alcoholic or non)?
Lately, I've been keeping it simple - vodka tonic with lemon.
11. What is your favorite music genre?
I love old-school jazz.