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Julie Smith-Clementi and Frank Clementi launch independent design firm Smith-Clementi

SHIFTING GEARS

Julie Smith-Clementi and Frank Clementi launch independent design firm Smith-Clementi

Julia Smith-Clementi and Frank Clementi. (Steven Eickelbeck)

Julie Smith-Clementi and Frank Clementi of the Los Angeles-based firm Rios Clementi Hale Studios have announced that they will be stepping out into their own independent practice, aptly titled Smith-Clementi. The two have left their industrial brick studio space in South Los Angeles’ Leimert Park to re-establish their practice on a smaller scale. “Its like starting at the beginning again,” Frank remarked over the phone. 

The original firm was established in 1985 as a multidisciplinary design firm and has since “tried to preserve a small office culture,” said Frank. “But as it grew, it had to satisfy big office expectations.” The pair agreed that establishing an independent studio was the best way to reconnect with their craft while working through creative projects as they see fit. Because the two found that their former studio was “interdisciplinary by acquisition,” the goal of Smith-Clementi is to instead “work alongside other small offices” in related creative fields, according to Julie. And while RCH Studios was primarily focused on projects in the Los Angeles area, Smith-Clementi will seek a more geographically-broad client base. 

Interior photo of a lounge with a ridged ceiling
While at RCH Studios, the two designed many additional spaces for the Hollywood Bowl and renovated its Artist Lounge, shown here. (Jim Simmons)
While at RCH Studios, Frank and Julie Smith-Clementi were not only involved in crafting elements of many of Los Angeles’ most significant venues, including the Hollywood Bowl, the Music Center, and the Greek Theatre, but also consumer product lines including notNeutral, which has developed a series of thoughtfully designed caféware and tabletop items. They were honored with over 20 AIA Design Awards and chosen as California Council’s AIA Firm of the Year in 2007. Though the two are starting anew, they have already begun working on several projects that complement their shared interest in design at all scales. “I look forward with both renewed focus and breadth,” said Julie, “to envision rich and authentic places that celebrate all people.”