ABOUT OUR LAB

We are a San Diego-based creative design studio specializing in commercial and residential interior design and brand. We’re committed to helping people articulate and bring their creative vision to life.

We create inspiring spaces for life, work and play, including ground-up design and renovation of residential, commercial, retail and institutional spaces. We’re inspired by travel, art, nature, creators, innovators and thinkers.  We seek to create enduring environments and brands that realize our clients’ visions, deliver surprise and delight. We’re continually expanding our knowledge of the world from our Cedros Design District design lab, and the planet beyond.

At our core, we are passionate about taking the journey with our clients, whether we are creating an engaging brand, a dream home or a workplace environment that inspires creativity, collaboration and innovation.

Let’s get started!

Commercial Design

Our expansive portfolio of commercial design work highlights the importance of connecting work environments to their social and cultural contexts while simultaneously communicating brand and corporate ethos. We bring optimal functionality and user experience to a broad range of workplace, hospitality, retail and multi-family projects.

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Residential Design

Our Residential Interior Design and Building Design portfolio includes both modern and contemporary projects. Specializing in the renovation and revitalization of significant mid-century homes and buildings, our portfolio includes residences in Rancho Santa Fe, La Jolla, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Encinitas, Palm Springs and Los Angeles.

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Brand Design

We offer skillful, thoughtful expertise in the areas of naming, brand development and visual identity. We can help craft an entirely new brand voice and visual style or refresh an existing brand.  Our expansive portfolio of work spans across a broad spectrum of industries, including retail, hospitality, consumer products, entertainment, technology, biotech and commercial real estate.

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Meet the Team

Photo of John McCulley
John McCulley

John founded McCulley Design Lab in 1988 with the vision to integrate the disciplines of Interiors, Architecture and Graphic Design into an integrated creative studio for progressive clients.

John has played a multidisciplinary role in the development of strategic planning and brand creation for such clients as Amtrak, Bank One, Burnham Real Estate, California Bank & Trust, Capstone Advisors, The City of Carlsbad, The City of Del Mar, Cox Communications, Four Seasons Resorts, Hewlett-Packard, Hilton, IBM, La Jolla Playhouse, Pinarello, Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, Sony, Time Warner, West Wireless Health Institute, and the University of California San Diego.

McCulley also consults in the custom design of Residential Interiors and Architecture. Project locations include Rancho Santa Fe, La Jolla, Del Mar, Palm Springs, Telluride, Columbus and Los Angeles.

McCulley has received national and international awards of recognition for excellence in design from the American Institute of Architects, American Institute of Graphic Arts, Columbus Society of Communicating Arts, International Design (ID) Magazine Annual Review, Institute of Business Designers, Industrial Designers Society of America, San Diego Architectural Foundation, San Diego Communicating Arts, and the Society of Experiential Design.

His designs have appeared in such prominent publications as American Banking Association Journal, Architecture, Architectural Record, The Architectural Review, The Architecture of Stations and Terminals, Computers in Banking, Contract Magazine, Designing Corporate Identity, Identity Magazine, ID Magazine, Interiors Magazine, Midcentury Home, Progressive Architecture, Rob Wellington Quigley: Buildings + Projects, San Diego Home & Garden, VM+SD, and Visual Merchandising 3.

Prior to founding McCulley Design Lab, John established and directed the award winning Retail Environments Resource at Fitch RichardsonSmith, an international product and retail design firm with offices in London, Columbus and Boston. While at Fitch, John was the Retail Design Principal in charge of next generation brand, interior and product initiatives.

As a Design Professor McCulley received a variety of research and academic awards while teaching Product Design, Graphic Design and Interior Design at The Ohio State University, Montana State University, and the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign.

John served on the Board of Directors for the La Jolla Golden Triangle Rotary Club, Downtown San Diego Partnership, Boys and Girls Clubs of San Dieguito, and as Vice President and member of the Board of Directors for the Rancho Santa Fe Historical Society. McCulley also served as Chairperson on the City of Del Mar’s Design Review Board.

McCulley holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Industrial Design and a Masters of Fine Arts in Japanese Design and Philosophy from the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign.

Photo of Janet McCulley
Janet McCulley

Janet has developed her unique brand of creative expression through two decades of experiential retail, hospitality and commercial design projects and brand development.
With a passion for immersive travel and cultural observation, Janet fuses those experiences with her academic and theoretical background in the arts to create meaningful design solutions and relevant visual narratives.

As a visual and creative consultant, Janet has led brand development and visual narrative initiatives for scrappy start-ups to Fortune 500’s, including Qualcomm, Discovery Channel, Westcore, Horizon Resort, Hotel Vyvant, Capstone Advisors, Pinarello, Dos Gringos, West Health Institute, Intelligent Blends and Jack in the Box.

In the built environment, Janet has helped lead the renovation and reimaging efforts for numerous commercial, retail, multi-family and hospitality projects for clients including Kidville Cove, Horizon Resort, Hotel Mirasol, Park View Apartments, S.D. Malkin, Capstone Advisors, Park East Apartments, Venture Coffee and Pinarello.

Janet also consults on select residential interior design projects, assisting with establishment of interior programming, function and spatial flow.

Janet is co-founder of Muttropolis specialty retail boutique(s) and previously served as a Trend Correspondent for Discovery Communications’ AnimalPlanet.com and as a Brand Marketing Strategist at the multi-unit restaurant chain Jack in the Box, Inc.

Janet holds a BA in Communication, with a minor in Art History, from The University of California, San Diego.

Favorite Quote: “Forever is composed of nows” - Emily Dickinson

Superpower: Life-hacking.

Obsession: Spotting the one-antlered Mule Deer (aka “The Unicorn”) that frequents her yard.

Photo of Amanda Dowell
Amanda Dowell

Amanda brings her love and passion for design into everything she does. Raised in both Germany and the US, Amanda received her BFA at the Design Institute of San Diego, where she enjoyed being on the ASID board and participated in campus outreach. Her interest in psychology and evidence-based design influences her design process and brings intention, as well as a deeper functionality and understanding into projects. Amanda has won multiple awards, including first place for the ASID Academic Achievement Award and has had her work displayed on numerous occasions.

Amanda enjoys international travel and nature, and gaining inspiration from exploration of off-the beaten path destinations. She also enjoys creative expression through art, music and reading books, preferably during a thunderstorm or at a coffee shop.

Favorite Quote: “We shape our homes and then our homes shape us.” -Winston Churchill

Dream: Designing spaces with hidden and secret passageways.

Fun Factoid: Played electric guitar in the German rock band “Blind Lights”

Our Mantra

  1. Good ideas are usually simple ideas.
  2. Design in the absence of thoughtful content is decoration.
  3. A strategic design process takes discipline for all parties involved.
  4. Design the experience first... not the objects.
  5. Great design connects with people on an emotional level.
  6. Dogs are good.
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