Charlie & Co. Design, Ltd. is a firm that is comprised of people who are dedicated to the art and study of residential design. With decades of collective practice, we strive to make the process one of collaboration, communication and setting exacting expectations.
We have carefully crafted a organization that not only mirrors our requirements for exceptional design standards, but has allowed us to grow into a culture that is singularly dedicated to the client experience, translating your dream home into a reality. Meet our team.
Charlie Simmons - Founder / Principal
Growing up in St. Paul, Minnesota, Charlie was exposed to the wide variety of architectural styles that define Minnesota’s capital city. As a child, he spent some of his free time sketching the grand Victorian houses of Summit Avenue on loose-leaf paper, and by the time he was 10 he knew that architecture was his calling.
As an avid winter sportsman, Charlie found his way to Montana State University in Bozeman MT, where he received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in architecture, while also studying Interior Design, History and back-country skiing. A self-described Modernist at heart, Charlie began shaping his own architectural philosophy into simple yet powerful spaces. After graduating in 1997, he returned to St. Paul to begin his professional career working at a nationally renowned design firm. Later, his passion for residential architecture led Charlie to start a new chapter in his life and design work.
After nearly a decade at the region’s premier residential architecture firm, Charlie left to become one of the founding Principals of Swan+Simmons Architecture and then Charlie & Co. Design Ltd., where he continues to produce award winning designs, foster strong client relationships and occasionally…sketch Victorian houses on loose-leaf paper.
Colby Mattson - principal
Colby Mattson brings more than 16 years of high-end residential design experience to Charlie & Co. Design. Over the years, he had the privilege of designing and managing projects ranging from small kitchen remodels to large estate homes – and everything in between.
Colby and Charlie Simmons collaborated on many projects while working together at another local firm early in their careers and found that they shared a common passion for thoughtful design and strong client relations. After Charlie left in 2007 to start his own practice, it was not long until Colby followed suit.
In his free time, Colby enjoys the outdoors, playing competitive volleyball and spending time with his wife and two sons.
Colby graduated from the University of Minnesota’s College of Design with a Master’s Degree in Architecture.
Maria Jose Larenas - designer/Project Manager
Maria brings over 12 years of residential design and project management experience to C&Co. Her thoughtful design approach, attention to detail, and strong “client-first” philosophy ensures the success of her work.
Maria is originally from Chile and has always been interested in the connection between architecture, culture and local traditions. She’s passionate about helping clients realize their dreams and translate their ideas into places that are meaningful and unique to the way they live.
Outside of work, Maria loves to travel, visit her family in Chile and spend as much time outside in the summer biking, walking and enjoying time with friends.
Maria holds a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture with a minor in Cultural Studies and a Master of Architecture from the University of Minnesota.
MARCY TOWNSEND - designer/Project architect
aia, NCARB, LEED AP
Drawing from a passion in design psychology, Marcy is a believer that the built environment influences our experience and interaction with others. Marcy seeks to design creatively functional yet incredibly personalized spaces. Her philosophy can be traced through the larger brush strokes in design down to the finest of details.
Marcy earned her undergraduate and Master’s degrees in architecture from the University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign. Her work over the years has won several awards and has graced the pages of local and national periodicals.
When not in the studio, Marcy enjoys spending time outdoors in the company of her Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, Sloane Peterson, and throwing blistering fastballs past opponents in her softball league.
sara whicher - designer/PROJECT manager
Sara Whicher completed her B.A. and Master of Architecture degrees from the University of Minnesota. She has over 13 years of residential architecture experience working on many significant homes in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Montana.
Sara’s passion for Architecture developed from a lifelong love of the Arts, which was nurtured in earlier professional positions at the Walker Art Center, Bush Foundation, and during Bachelor studies in Fine Art and Art History. Professional honors include two AIA Minnesota awards for her leadership in the very successful Homes by Architects Tour.
Sara resides in Minnetonka, MN with her husband and two daughters. In her leisure time Sara competes in rowing and triathlons, loves to horseback ride and instructs down-hill skiing.
JOHN YAU - PROJECT CAPTAIN
With over 15 years of high-end residential and commercial design experience, John brings vast knowledge of building science and construction to Charlie & Co. Design.
Born in Hong Kong, John is fascinated with cross-cultural comparisons between Eastern and Western societies, specifically their architectural styles. In his off time, John swaps his business suit and loafers for lycra and cleated shoes, enjoying the many bike trails around the metro area.
John holds an advanced degree in Architectural Design with certificates in Construction Drafting and Interior Design from the College of Charleston and Trident Technical College.
JONATHAN MASON - designer/PROJECT CAPTAIN
Jonathan draws from his experience as an artist and a craftsman to inform his approach to architecture. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from MCAD and a Master’s degree in Architecture from the UMN.
Before going to graduate school, he worked in construction, developing a hands-on sense of the building process. In grad school, he received the Design Excellence Award, the Ellerbe Becket Portfolio Award, and the Design Democracy Fellowship. Since grad school Jonathan has 9 years of residential design experience and has worked on numerous award winning projects. These complementary sets of knowledge and experience combine to give him a great foundation in aesthetics, craft, and understanding of the building process.
He describes his approach:
”In my architectural process, the goal is to find that elusive balance between the clients’ dreams and the project’s constraints—and within that, to find the most efficient and elegant solution possible.”
In his free time, Jonathan, can be found running or cycling or tinkering in his studio, but his greatest joy is to be with his wife and two kids, hiking in the local parks, skating at a neighborhood rink, or playing/ teaching his kids chess. He lets the them win… for now.
Brooke Dorman - Graduate Intern
Her early life once rooted in the rolling hills of Mississippi, Brooke grew up surrounded by architecture with longstanding connections to the landscape and the people therein. The richness of the towering silos in the front yard, kudzu covered masonry, and antebellum homes sparked her passion for architecture, a pursuit she would follow to the College of Architecture, Art + Design in Mississippi State University's Bachelor of Architecture program and Virginia Tech's, Washington-Alexandria Architecture Center. Upon completing her thesis concerning the urbanization of an architecture for the elderly, Brooke traveled across the United States and Japan, visiting major architectural works along the way.
Brooke believes that responsible architecture responds to the human condition, innately kindling balance between beauty and reason. Likewise, her passion for design inspires her to pursue graphic design, painting, and ceramics in her free time. On sunny days, you'll find her playing racket sports poorly or relaxing with her sixteen year old Sheltie, Gabby.
BRITTNY ROBERTS - TECHNICIAN DRAFTER
Brittny graduated from Dunwoody College of Technology with a degree in Architectural Drafting & Estimating. Brittny has had the pleasure of working on many significant projects throughout the Midwest. From an early age, she had a passion for building things and a love of computers which sent her on a path towards architecture.
When Brittny is not investigating the latest developments in building science and technology, she enjoys traveling and playing/watching hockey.
DOUGLAS TANG - INTERN / DRAFTER
Growing up in the expat hub of Taipei, Taiwan, Douglas Tang has always been fascinated with the diverse mix of cultures on the island and the cityscape that reflects that. A firm believer of firsthand experiences, Doug enjoys exploring foreign architecture in different countries.
Douglas received his Bachelor of Science in Architecture from the University of Minnesota. While in school, he attended the Rome and Istanbul architecture study abroad program where he learned from the classical masters of the European cities.
Outside the office, he enjoys running outdoors in the Twin Cities, doing spontaneous urban sketching, and playing on his guitar. He also has a soft spot for espresso drinks and cozy café seats.
One of her many talents is understanding the type of personalities that thrive in residential design and how to help maintain office equilibrium. Her accounting and managerial prowess are the stuff of legend and the weld-joint that keeps the wheels on C&Co. Sarah and her business, Modern Methods, ensure that we spend our time doing the things that we love - designing and exceeding our clients expectations – and not getting bogged down on spreadsheets and endless piles of paperwork.