By: Ken Wilson, FAIA, FIIDA, LEED AP BD+C
Founding Principal, Envision Design
Chair, Interior Architecture Knowledge Community Advisory Group
My interview with Lauren Rottet, of Rottet Studio Architecture and Design, is the first in a series of interviews with highly acclaimed architects that have a specialty in interior architecture.
Lauren Rottet is one of the most-celebrated interior architects today with an extraordinary record of awards, publications, and honors. Ms. Rottet is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, a Fellow of the International Interior Design Association, a member of the Interior Design Hall of Fame, and a Designer of the Year. In 2006, Rottet was inducted as an Inaugural Member of the Women in Design Hall of Fame.
Building upon a 25-year, highly acclaimed corporate design career, Ms. Rottet has created a striking new presence in hospitality design with the highly acclaimed Surrey Hotel in Manhattan’s Upper East Side and new bungalows at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Ms. Rottet finds the design of the interior environment particularly challenging and satisfying, combining psychology, theater, art, and architecture with the use of unlimited media. Rottet Studio has offices in Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Shanghai.
How has the recession affected your business?
We had a drop in business of course. We’re picking up now, but fees are lower.
What market areas are the strongest for your firm?
Commercial office and hotels. We’re also doing some building renovations and ground up buildings for hospitality.
I know you are successfully doing work abroad. Can you tell us about some of the unique aspects of designing projects in other countries? Any stories about cultural differences and how you dealt with them?
We have done projects in Shanghai, Paris, Frankfurt, and Milan. We typically work with a local architect for code compliance and the construction phase. Each country is different of course, but we find it actually fairly easy to find a good architecture firm to work with and then follow through to be successful. We started a project for the same client at exactly the same time in both Frankfurt and Milan. We finished the one in Frankfurt ahead of schedule with only one or two punch list items. The project in Milan went on for months.....lots of fun though! It was the same team on our end, so there must have been a slight difference culturally in the approach to getting a project done. Both were very successful in the end. We also work with foreign clients who own properties in the U.S. Here we find some requirements that are a little unexpected such as not liking mirrors or not allowing any image of animals to be used.
I know you have offices in several cities. How do you manage to oversee design in all of them?
We have strong leaders in each city, but we also use “Go To Meeting” (http://www.gotomeeting.com/) a lot to review design.
Do you see any new trends in interior architecture?
Offices are becoming more hospitality like and less formal, there is a trend to downsize private offices and move back to more open offices and benching systems even in energy companies. There is also a trend toward consideration of alternative office concepts. In hospitality - the trend is "authentic".
What is your favorite project?
Of course I have several! I am enjoying a hotel project we are doing in Miami — a brand that celebrates "luxury liberated". It is contemporary, but warm and very hand crafted.
Do you have any new product design in the works that you can tell us about?
Yes, a case goods line for Halcon. We are doing a number of pieces for the hotels we are designing. Leather tables, sofas, consoles, lights etc. for St. Regis in Aspen and a number of pieces such as coffee tables, dividers, art furniture, etc for a hotel in Miami.
You seem to be constantly on the go, always traveling somewhere. What do you do to recharge yourself?
That is a good question – fortunately I can sleep on planes. I am pretty good at channeling and focusing. When I come home I stop thinking about work, but then of course I wake up at 4:00 in the morning and start working again. I can recharge over a nice dinner and glass of wine with friends or a great walk, a good yoga class or if I really need a boost — I escape to a beach although lately the mountains have been doing the trick.
What advice would you give someone entering into the field of interior architecture.
Be patient and work very hard, but work wisely. People are taking advantage of our mind power these days and as an industry we have to figure out how to sell our ideas and accomplishments for what they are really worth.
What do you see as the next step for your firm?
We will continue to love our corporate commercial office work and advance our hospitality work. We are also starting to become more involved in graphics, branding, product design and the promotion of products, both ours or others, that we have found to be superior from sheets to rugs to lights to glasses.
Artis Capital Management – San Francisco, CA
The Surrey Hotel – New York, NY
Haynes & Boone Law Offices – Houston, TX
Our next interview will be with Clive Wilkinson of Clive Wilkinson Architects in West Hollywood, California and your questions for Clive are welcome!
Please send questions to AIA-IAC@envisionsite.com by September 10th, 2011.