Melissa Hanley, AIA, IIDA, LEED AP, is co-founder, principal, and CEO of Blitz, a California architecture and interiors studio paving the way for high-performance, human-centered commercial spaces. She heads up the design teams, manages operations, brand strategy, and project delivery, all while acting as the managing principal of their San Francisco office. Hanley brings her workplace expertise to innovative companies, like Microsoft, Google, Comcast, Dropbox, Spotify, UC Berkeley, Soundcloud, Fitbit, and many more, making sure each project meets the needs of the clients while also being a beautiful place to work in every day. She grew up as the child of a contractor and fine woodworker, which left a lasting imprint on her design style where exploration and experimentation often lead to creative design solutions. The California native earned a Bachelor of Arts in architecture with a minor in city and regional planning from the University of California, Berkeley, and went on to work for a mid-sized firm. When she and Seth Hanley, AIA, were laid off during the recession, they joined forces to launch Blitz in 2009 and got married along the way. The growing practice expanded to Los Angeles in recent times and both studios stay busy working on projects throughout the US, Europe, Asia, and Australia. In this Friday Five, the busy architect shares a few of her favorite things, from pens to a vintage car.
1. MUJI .38 Gel Pens
I’m a huge all-around MUJI fan, but I particularly adore their gel pens. The fine tip is excellent for my style of sketching and I appreciate that they are not so expensive as to feel precious. I always have several in a variety of colors in my bag or at my desk.
2. 1970 Citroen DS
The Citroen DS speaks to a romantic era of optimistic futurism that I really love. Designed by Italian sculptor and industrial designer Flaminio Bertoni and French aeronautical engineer André Lefèbvre, it floats on a hydropneumatic self-leveling suspension. It’s a fun contrast of themes: whimsical but elegant, executive but sporty, space-age but classic. Generally a weird and wonderful car.
3. My dog, Ambrosia
At 15 years old, Ambrosia is my longest relationship. She’s a founding member of Blitz and has been all over the country with us. It’s hard to be stressed out with that cute little face snorting her way around the studio and she brings a lovely sense of levity to our work.
4. Vintage Krenit Bowls in Lime Green
My mom was an avid antique collector and some of my favorite memories are from our epic weekend garage sale journeys. I still love antiquing and I could easily be a hoarder of eclectic things, so I try to limit my collections. The one thing that I obsess over and never hold back on if I come across one in my travels is vintage Krenit bowls in lime green. The lime green is harder to find, so when I do find one I get pretty excited. Originally designed by Herbert Krenchel in 1953, the lime green is not part of the relaunch by Norman Copenhagen making the vintage finds all the more special.
5. Ricola Elderflower and Eucalyptus Herb Lozenges
I recently discovered the Ricola Elderflower and Eucalyptus lozenges on a trip to Switzerland. Of course, I’ve long been familiar with the traditional throat lozenge, but had never seen the eucalyptus version and it was a revelation! I know it’s a bit bizarre to “love” a lozenge, but the eucalyptus reminds me simultaneously of home (my parents have a large eucalyptus grove on their farm), travels, and gives me a resounding feeling of wellness. I specifically found these when I made the pilgrimage to Therme Vals with my husband (also an architect, and co-founder of our firm, Blitz). The visit to the Peter Zumpthor baths was nothing short of a spiritual experience. These little lozenges transport me back.