Catherine and VW Fowlkes took the road less traveled on their way to careers in architecture. They first met in New York City, where she was a singer-songwriter and he was a producer for ABC News. Several years later, they encouraged each other to pursue what for each had been a long-held artistic dream and applied to architecture school.

Their passion for the craft had been formed early on. Catherine grew up surrounded by the art of her mother, painter Edith Kuhnle, and her mother’s peers. In college, she studied the history of art and architecture as well as studio art. When VW was young, he loved to take objects apart and see how they were constructed—a habit that has given him the confidence to play with design norms.

Native Washingtonians, they eventually returned to DC and in 2009 launched Fowlkes Studio, located in Dupont Circle. The eight-member firm, says Catherine, is committed to “intelligent design that celebrates craft and represents the sensibilities of its clients.”

The partners’ early training in stagecraft has given them a unique appreciation of how people move and interact with their environments. “Spaces can be experienced very differently depending on how you enter and leave, how you relate to adjacent spaces and how you relate to the outdoors,” VW reflects.