Designer Crush: Laura and Cliff Muller of Four Point DesignAuthor:Michelle Konstantinovsky
1. How did you each get your start in design?
Laura: I can’t remember a time that I wasn’t designing and building things. I spent the entirety of my childhood and young adult years immersed in theater and creative arts; from set, lighting, and costume design and building, to production and stage management and performance. By the time I was 5 years old, I was building furniture with my father. I’ve always felt that space planning, proportion, and project management came very naturally to me, and have always had an insatiable drive to be a design and production entrepreneur. I flipped my first of five properties for profit when I was just twenty-two years old, and began working with my first handful of my residential interior design clients by the age of twenty-nine. I have been designing residential and commercial spaces ever since. In 2008, (at fifty years old), I continued my formal education and completed the UCLA ARC_ID Master’s Program in Interior Architecture and Design, where I met Cliff.
Cliff: From a very early age I was exposed to the construction trades as my father was a contractor. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t getting my hands dirty in construction and learning solution minded building methods and techniques. My love for architecture and design, in particular, started early when I took my first architecture, drafting and design classes in high school. In college, I studied art and architecture with a focus in vocational education, where I earned my teaching certification, eventually leading me to teach and write the curriculum for the industrial arts program for twelve years in Vermont. Finally, I moved to LA and became a General Contractor and have been designing construction solutions and building residential and commercial buildings and spaces for over forty years.
2. How did you meet and when/how did you decide to start Four Point?
Laura: Cliff and I met at UCLA; He was giving a lecture on Construction and Project Management and I was a student in the Architecture and Interior Design (ARC_ID) Master’s program. For me, it was love at first sight. At that time, I was a single working mom of three (for almost 13 years) with a schoolgirl crush, and Cliff was a single father. What followed next was nothing short of a miracle. Later that year, I was selected to be part of a small, very elite team of designers charged with restoring 4,000 sf of the never-before-seen servants quarters at the Historic Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills, CA. Cliff was our restoration advisor and mentor. For six months we worked closely together and formed a professional relationship that, once the apprenticeship concluded, developed into a working partnership. We worked together on a few large design-build projects and one day our relationship turned a romantic corner. It was a natural partnership and in early 2010 we merged our talents, our independent businesses, and our families; Later that year Four Point was incorporated.
3. Laura, you have a strong background in community outreach and service — tell us a little bit about the organizations you work for and why they’re important to you.
Laura: I am a self-confessed pro-bono junkie with a deeply personal interest in youth homelessness as it relates to mental illness. I dream of building affordable and accessible recovery and transition programs for youths and their families through creative arts, design and faith, who suffer from ALL levels of mental illness and the challenges associated with the lack of information, support and financial aid. I have been actively involved in community service since high school and have worked with such organizations as Chrysalis, PATH, MEND, Kids and Cancer, and most recently have led and completed large design projects with STEP UP on SECOND, World Vision, and Ronald McDonald House, Los Angeles. As a former President of the Los Angeles Chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), I am also an active advocate for the interior design profession, and a recipient of the ASID Adele Faulkner Award for Outstanding Community Service.
4. Cliff, how does your extensive knowledge of the California region inform every project you work on?
Cliff: My extensive on-hands experience over the past 40 years in design and construction has enabled me to understand the delicate nuance of the requirements and solutions that are particular to the California and West Coast region. I apply this knowledge and these experiences to every residential and commercial project we take on, especially when responding to any and all code and practical requirements for health and safety as they relate to earthquakes, fire, water restriction, and heat. Whether the project is a multi-story building with subterranean parking, a retro-fit, a new high-rise, or a custom estate, the means, methods and techniques are the same.
5. Best part of working with your spouse? Most challenging?
BEST: Trust, respect and collaboration on a daily basis, and expedited problem solving. Best of all though, is the togetherness; we actually really like hanging out with each other.
MOST CHALLENGING: Keeping the lines between work and play clear as (at times) the lines can get a little blurred when the dynamics of our personal relationship and family can occasionally trickle over into the professional partnership.
6. Who is your dream celebrity client and what would you create for them?
Laura: My dream client would HAVE to be Jamie Oliver. As a LONG-time fan, hobby chef, and foodie, I can think of nothing more spectacular, thrilling, satisfying, and challenging then to conceptualize, design, and build his next high-concept restaurant. I would design a state-of-the-art #cleanfreshmodern unique high-concept space with a visible central vocational learning kitchen that would integrate a sustainable organic garden and community creative food-arts center.
7. Describe your ideal Sunday.
I think this can be said for both of us: Sleep in, then a slow large latte. Off to church with family and a trip to our local farmer’s market. Then home for a nap, a little football, and a delicious organic fireside meal.
8. Favorite ice cream flavor?
L: Coffee | C: Chocolate
9. First concert?
L: Eagles | C: Michael Jackson
10. Current favorite TV show?
L + C: Blue Bloods
11. All-time favorite book?
L: Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsch | C: Rainbow Six by Tom Clancy
12. First celebrity crush?
L: Davy Jones | C: Carly Simon
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