David Dunphy, 56, is a principal at the hospitality design firm Studio in Santa Monica, a division of Hirsh Bender Associates. In addition to projects in San Francisco and Camarillo, Dunphy leads a team working on three local hotels: a Courtyard and Hampton Inn in Santa Monica, and Plaza La Reina Hotel in Westwood. Dunphy has spent more than 30 years working in a deadline-driven business, and has learned how to juggle multiple projects while carving out time for water sports. We spoke with Dunphy about how he maintains his calm as the projects pile up.

Question: Describe your morning routine.

Answer: I get up at 5:30 in the morning and I practice meditation with my wife until 6 a.m. I’ve been doing Sahaja meditation for over 30 years, and have both practiced and taught it. It puts me on an even keel. Then, I have a light breakfast, usually fruit or something of that nature, and we both get on the road at about 6:30. My commute to Santa Monica from Palos Verdes takes about an hour in lovely L.A. traffic – which I have prepared myself for by meditating.

What does your day look like when you arrive at the office?

Typically, we’re working on a few hotel projects, so I’m usually meeting with hotel designers. For lunch, I try to eat locally in Santa Monica to get my head clear and not get swallowed by work. I try to spend a full hour out, relaxing, eating and reading the paper. In my younger days, I used to eat at my desk, and I just don’t think that’s a formula for longevity. This is a deadline oriented business, so when we’re on deadline, sometimes we work until 8 or 9, but usually it’s more like 6 or 7. For both myself and my staff, I try to make sure people are out of here by 7 because I think it requires freshness to be creative. And in this industry, you’re being paid to be creative.

How do achieve work/life balance?

When I leave the office, it’s gone. I don’t think about it. I don’t check emails. I turn my phone off when I walk in the door because then it’s about my family.

Right now, my youngest daughter is traveling in Morocco and we Skype. My oldest daughter in West Hollywood and we try to have dinner once a week at a midpoint between here and there. Particularly for architects, this profession can be all consuming, and there’s a very high divorce rate. I avoided that by making an effort to make time for my family.


For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.