Lee is delighted to welcome Amanda Faulkner Khouri to the expanding team at the Lee W. Robinson Company. Amanda has come on board as a project manager for the Washington DC and New York City metro areas. She comes to the company with an unexpected background, reminiscent of Lee’s move from banking to pursue design nearly 20 years ago.
Amanda has always been interested in design as a hobby, she says. She enjoys following trends and, in fact, as a native of Louisville, Kentucky, has followed Lee’s career for as long as she can remember. She, like Lee, put her passion aside for a number of years and did what she thought she should do — she got a degree at UVA and continued into a career around public policy, living in Washington, DC. She worked on a political campaign in Louisville, then as a staff assistant on Capitol Hill in Washington, ultimately graduating into a role in the Senate Cloakroom right on the edge of the Senate floor. There she and her colleagues were responsible for advising Senators’ offices on parliamentary procedure. When asked about her favorite parts of that job, aside from relishing the unique opportunity to work at the center of the action in the Senate, her response was her “office was in the middle of the historic and ornate capitol hallways with their grand staircases, moldings and gorgeous tile work.” She loved being immersed in that atmosphere each day.
She moved from the Capitol building over to Twitter and eventually to Google, where she worked as a senior policy analyst and lobbyist. She was in the thick of tech policy and got great experience at both companies, juggling business relationships with a multitude of people and personalities, and expanding her reach between the public and private sectors.
“I was so grateful for the experiences and opportunities I’d come into, and had found success in my career, and yet all the while I had this lingering feeling that I wanted to take design to the next level — I couldn’t shake it. I’d been looking at design schools when I started working at Twitter four years ago. It was a long journey to get to a point where I felt ready to take the leap,” she says.
During Amanda’s time at Google she continued to pursue her design work on the side. Through a mutual connection, she went to Lee for mentorship. Similar to what his mentors had seen in him years ago, Lee saw a young, creative mind full of passion for great design and the willingness to keep learning. That, coupled with her network in DC, and her knowledge of some of the best designers of the last 100 years, Lee knew before the end of the conversation that this was a person to bring into his company. Amanda will be taking on both the DC and the New York City markets, where Lee has worked in the past — he simply needed a new project manager on the ground.
When asked how Amanda felt about this opportunity, she said, “I’m still kind of walking on air. I feel so lucky to be able to pursue this work. I finished my time with Google just a few weeks ago and am proud to have secured our first couple of clients here in the DC area. I can’t wait to help Lee grow the business.” Her admiration for Lee’s work is contagious, “He’s someone who belongs on the national stage with other top designers. The work he and Kyle [Johnson] did on the staircase and hallway at the Kips Bay Showhouse in Palm Beach was nothing short of iconic.”
Amanda’s favorite legacy designers fall right in line with Lee’s – Mario Buatta tops the list. Other designers she admires and looks to for inspiration in her work are up-and-comers Ariel Okin and Virginia Tupker.
“I would describe myself as a fresh take on traditional, with a slight bohemian bent. I love incorporating architectural details and combining old and new – and I really love fabric. Ariel Okin presented the most stunning bedroom in the 2018 Holiday House, where she combined antique side tables with a beautiful hand painted de Gournay wallpaper, and a very modern black matte canopy frame bed. It was so unexpected and interesting, and yet the room maintained this perfect understated elegance.”
When asked how she would define design, Amanda replied, eagerly, “Through everything I’ve done, the relationships and ultimately the friendships I’ve built with the people I’m working with have been most meaningful. Design is no different – it’s about connecting with your clients on a personal level, to interpret and realize their vision, and create a space where they feel fully understood and at home.”
We couldn’t agree more, and are so excited to welcome Amanda to the team. We look forward to having her work on projects with Lee in both DC and New York.