With a recent feature in Architectural Digest and a winning appearance on Bravo TV’s Best Room Wins, Megan Grehl '08 and her eponymous studio are carving out a name in the world of design. In the below Q&A, the Growth and Structure of Cities major talks about the impact her Bryn Mawr education has had on her career, running a business, and more.
How did your time at Bryn Mawr shape who you are today?
Bryn Mawr and the Growth and Structure of Cities program opened my world to architecture and design. Growing up in competitive schools in Taipei, Beijing, and Hong Kong, I had learned how to think for the international scale, but Bryn Mawr honed my critical thinking to analyze and question everything.
Are there any particular professors who stand out in terms of their influence on your career?
Gary Mcdonogh and Daniela Sandler were two professors who really ignited my passion for design and understanding the development of cities. After Bryn Mawr, I went on to get a master's at UPenn in urban planning and worked in Shanghai China for more than five years at firms such as Artech by Kris Yao, Phillip Johnson China, Neri and Hu. During my interview at Neri and Hu, the founders actually asked me to cite my favorite architects. I responded naming Kazuyo Sejima, Tadao Ando, Louis Kahn—all the greats that I had met in my History of Modern Architecture course at Bryn Mawr with Daniela.
Tell us about your studio.
Unlike other interior designers in New York who simply decorate, we are multi disciplinary—experimenting with product design, hospitality branding, construction management, and architecture. Our firm is grounded in the belief of creating long-lasting timeless forms that not only have a connection to history, but have meaning in this millennium, and consider their context. We are very aware of our audience, especially how media and cities can have a positive or negative impact on our lives. Gary's class on Media and the City really opened my eyes to critically thinking about the types of designs I am putting out there every day.
Can you talk about the commitment you've made to providing opportunities to women?
My firm is made up of six talented, bright young women from architecture and interiors backgrounds. I prefer to hire women—in a male dominated industry I feel that I am doing my part in demonstrating to society that women can perform equally in the complexities of design and construction. I personally screened each designer with a 3D model test during the hiring process to test their analytical skills in design. Currently, we are managing substantial construction projects from the Hamptons to Miami to Los Angeles. These projects have tight timelines and clients who have high expectations, and my team of talented and bright young women are pivotal in helping me manage all of these projects simultaneously.
What are some of your most recent projects?
Last year we flew to Milan for Salone de Mobile to exhibit “Moooi Through the Eyes of Megan Grehl” with Marcel Wanders. More recently, we were published in Architecture Digest for our 5,000-square-foot renovation in the iconic Apthorp building on the Upper West Side. While we were doing that, I was also performing a major gut renovation on Bravo TV’s Best Room Wins in Los Angeles. Coming up, we are working with the largest restaurant group in China, rebranding hundreds of their restaurants to create a modern, healthier take on Mongolian cuisine and the Asian communal eating experience. I'm always looking forward but much of the foundation of who I am today is grounded in my explorations at Bryn Mawr.
The interdisciplinary Growth and Structure of Cities major challenges the student to understand the dynamic relationship of urban spatial organization and the built environment to politics, economics, cultures, and societies.