Whether working on projects in Texas, hopping on a Viking River ship to Egypt or raising the bar on residential towers in Taiwan, Houston-based Lauren Rottet, founder and principal of her eponymous firm (rottetstudio.com), is in high demand.
PHOTO BY DAMIAN MIRANDA/COURTESY OF THE NAFTALI GROUP
1. What first sparked your true love for design?
Even in my childhood, I was a creator and builder making forts, tree-houses and villages out of stone and mud, and I was constantly judging and or rearranging my parents’ furniture. I cut my teeth designing three high-rise buildings in Dallas before the age of 28. The building stopped due to the recession, and I was asked to be the interior designer for the spaces within these buildings.
The design for Trammell Crow’s personal office in Dallas and for Charlie Miller, CEO of Criterion in Houston, began my interiors career. I worked closely with these two brilliant people trying to understand what they needed and wanted in the work environments for themselves and their company. In the process, I learned all about their businesses, how to make the work flow better physically and how to create an inspiring environment conducive to work that would make all these diverse company team members happy day in and out. I found interiors to be part psychology, part puzzle building and part architecture and art. Interiors is like unfolding art one step at a time. It became addicting, and as you know, I went on to spend the next 20-plus years doing mostly interior design. Since starting Rottet Studio, I have begun designing buildings and master plans again. Being able to design from raw land to the building to the interiors and then select the art and accessories is of course a dream realized.
2. When all is said and done, what would you deem is the best part of your job?
Creating memorable environments that inspire people and make them happy. To walk around with someone and see that look on their face like ‘How did you do this?’ or ‘It is so beautiful,’ or to hear someone in an elevator looking so excited talking about how much they love the hotel design—that is all you need.
3. Is there a recent project you worked on that you are particularly proud of?
La Colombe d’Or in Houston— what a wonderful project to be able to help preserve some of Houston’s history (the 1923 Fondren Mansion) while creating a dynamic newly transformed hotel, restaurant and bar along with luxury apartments serviced by the hotel. It is really rewarding to hear of people moving to Houston and choosing to live here for the views, ambiance and design. We designed it to reflect what Houston is—a dynamic city with a rich history of discovery and exploration (think NASA and medical), forward-thinking with an intense art community.
4. What would you say sets you and your firm apart from others?
We try to create environments that are comfortable yet inspiring. One must feel somewhat comfortable to let inspiration sink in, but one must be somewhat surprised or moved by a space to spark their interest enough to be inspired. We hope that in our environments it is not just an immediate reaction; it is both upon first arrival that one notices the feeling of inspiration but, more importantly, the longer they stay in the space and use it, the more their mind is opened for creative thought.
5. Looking to the future, what is next?
Our newest and most exciting venture for me is that I am back to designing buildings from the ground up and even landscape design. I have always loved landscape design and studied it as a minor in college. Landscape, whether it is city hardscape or a more natural environment, is what sets the tone for the project.