Fortunately for architectural designer Olivia Lu-Hill, Los Angeles has its own distinct brand of whimsy and wonder worthy of the silver screen. Taking inspiration from LA’s diverse urban landscape—from the myriad architectural typologies and abundant natural settings to the vibrant arts scene—Olivia brings her boundless imagination and a desire to spark creative participation in all her pursuits. We caught up with her to chat art and design, from the cinematic to the conceptual.
When did you realize you wanted to work in architecture? After I earned my undergraduate degree in engineering from USC and worked in Shanghai, I realized I wanted to be in architecture. During my time there, I was inspired by the contrast between old and new buildings. The impact that architecture has on communities and culture inspired me to be part of the design process.
How does living in Southern California inspire you? I am inspired by the many creative industries outside of architecture in Los Angeles. From film and art to music and dance, there’s a lot to see and learn from in this sprawling city. I’m also inspired by the creative freedom for architectural design here; I find myself surprised and inspired time and again by the mash-up of styles you can see as you move from neighborhood to neighborhood.
Coffee or tea? I’m a big fan of both.
Favorite tool of the trade? I love concept sketches and illustrations. The lack of realism encourages creative participation from the viewer.
Favorite movie? “Spirited Away” by Studio Ghibli. It’s been a favorite since I was a child. The movie is both nostalgic and comforting. It’s also the perfect movie to fall asleep to and dream with.
If you could design for a fictional character, who would it be? A secondary bathhouse for Yubaba in “Spirited Away.”
Do you have any hobbies outside of the office? I love being outdoors and traveling. Depending on the season, I like hiking, snowboarding, camping, and scuba diving.
What is the best advice you have ever received? Something my mom tells me and will be stuck in my head forever is: “Good, better, best. Never let it rest, till your good is better and your better, best.”