Designer Crush: Cynthia Spence


1. How did you get your start in design?

I backed into it. I had a career in business but always designed, remodeled and/or built my own homes. There was an inflection point at which the creativity and freedom of designing homes coincided with my need for a break from the corporate world. Fortunately, I had a bit of an installed base comprised of family and friends that had been asking me to design their homes for quite some time.

2. How did your experience in the tech and entertainment worlds influence your approach to design?

I learned how to work with both creatives and analytics. They can have different priorities as well as communication styles. And, of course, the business world taught me the discipline and importance of planning, schedules and budgets.

3. What’s your process for getting to know each client?

I like to spend time with and get to know them. Getting acquainted allows me to better understand their lifestyle, their priorities and how they live. Coming from a business background, I find that posing the right questions can afford brain space for the right answer. I am a firm believer in the importance of offering solutions. At the end of the day these clients come to me because there is something in their life that needs to be changed, and it is my job to make sure that at least once aspect of their lives (and a major one at that) is better fit for their needs. By understanding their lifestyle, priorities, and how they live, I am able to continue the dialogue, translating it to design.

4. Your company’s philosophy is based on the principle of the home as “an oasis of calm.” Why is that so central to your work, and what are some practical ways you create that tranquil vibe?

I have said it over and over but it bears repeating; the outside world has become increasingly noisy and frenetic. I believe we all need our corner of the world where we can retreat and recharge — whatever that form takes for the individual.

5. What’s your favorite aspect of California life and why?

The weather and the topography. I need more sunlight than gray days and I love that within hours. I can be at the coast or in the mountains; San Francisco or LA.

6. If you could trade places with anyone else in the world for 24 hours, who would it be and why?

Damien Hirst. I love the idea of gender bending. Diving into the mind of a creative such as DH is like going to a place that I have not been before. I’m sure it would be a type of chaos that is both inspiring and strengthening later to be broken down to a language that is universal and evocative. 

7. Who would you want to play you in the movie version of your life?

Maggie Siff.

Lightning Round:

8. Perrier or La Croix?


9. New Year’s Eve: Go big or go home?

Go home.

10. Real news or Real Housewives?

These days, Real Housewives.

11. Pancakes or waffles?

Pancakes (but its a close tie).

12. High heels or flats?

High heels for the fashion but flats for the comfort.

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