Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet
June 19, 2015



The Kalamazoo Questionnaire: Russ Cletta


By Chris Mordi



Here the landscape architect, whose work has been featured frequently in the Los Angeles Times and Los Angeles Times Magazine, shares his thoughts on design inspiration, solar paving and getting his way.

Russ Cletta landscape design

Which person(s) do you admire most?

Teachers or anyone dedicated to improving the lives of others.


Which designers do you most admire?

Roberto Burle Marx, Cliff May, Santiago Calatrava, Bernard Trainor, Patrick Blanc, and a long list of talented and inspired individuals.


Which designers influence(d) you?

My former business partner, Jay Griffith, has had a marked influence on my design and thought process. 


Where do you get your inspiration?

From nature, travel and art.


Give us three words that describe your professional design style.

Thoughtful, innovative, appropriate.


Which trends would you like to see go away?

Faux recycled wood veneer – enough already.


Which trends would you like to see come in?

Solar paving.


Which design publications are monthly must reads for you?

I have been online for quite a while now visiting sites like Houzz, but I still usually pick up a copy of Dwell.


If you could redesign one historical landscape, which would it be?

Pershing Square in Los Angeles.


What’s your favorite landscape in TV or movies?

Anywhere with palm trees, we didn’t have those in Pennsylvania where I grew up. 


What’s the one thing you always put in your designs that could be considered your “signature?”

Good space planning.


What’s the one thing you can’t live without in your projects?

Getting my way.


What’s your favorite color scheme?

Subdued tones of orange, lime, ochre and olive.


What are the three words that describe your perfect client?

Intelligent, direct, open-minded.


If you weren’t a LA/interior designer/kitchen or bath designer what would you be?

A goat farmer.


If you could practice design anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Los Angeles.


What’s the name of the appliance store where you buy items for your projects?

Snyder Diamond in Santa Monica.


Where’d you grow up?

Amish country in Western Pennsylvania.


Three words that describe your personal style at your own home?

Eclectic, modern, effortless.


What’s your favorite room in your house?

Kitchen, dining and living; it’s all one room.


What’s your favorite season?

Indian summer, the light is always fantastic.


What’s your go-to restaurant?

My kitchen.


Coffee or Tea?

Both. I love good coffee, but tea is more forgiving at the end of the day.


What’s your go-to item to cook on the grill?

Lamb burgers with Feta cheese alongside grilled Poblano peppers.


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