DesignMatters was very excited to interview Lauren Rottet, FIIDA, about her new furniture line, the Rottet Home for Bolier Collection. DM caught up with Lauren to ask about the process of producing her line, touch on her past product and furniture line offerings, and become familiar with the unique inspirations and experiences she’s had during her design career.
You have a long, established history designing furniture and other products for manufacturers and your own project work, what made you decide now was the right time to launch your own line?
LR: I love to design furniture and as you know, I have been doing it for a while – actually since about 1990 when I could not find the perfect sofa for my home so I designed one and had it built by a local LA manufacturer. This design was picked up by Brayton (now Coalesse) and is still in their line 24 years later. It was my first product and the rest have been for commercial manufacturers until now – so maybe I have just gone full circle. We have been doing a lot of hospitality work as well as private residences and therefore I have been focused on softer more personal furniture. It seems I am always designing pieces to personalize the hotel or home and to fit exactly what I need/want. Also, I am furnishing my home in Montauk and again, could not find what I wanted, so I started designing it. When Bolier approached me to do a residential line, I was thrilled as I already had many pieces in mind and knew that their quality was something I would have in my own house. I have always loved to design options. When I am designing, I typically have one main idea that I pursue for a project, but that idea spins off so many new ideas. I was delighted when Bolier said that they wanted an extensive line as I was then able to keep the ideas going.
Your initial release has 3 product line offerings, each with a different inspiration – avante garde art/Georges Braque, your New York home. What made you land on these elements as your inspiration? Did they come to you or was there a process of discovery involved? If so, what was it?
LR: Actually there are four.
1. Montauk Gray – Obviously what I had in mind for my own home and also for beach houses or contemporary homes where the furniture would be light visually, but command a presence. When doing a second home or home “of design” each piece has to be part of the visual composition and make you happy. Montauk Gray is basically made of Acrylic and gray washed and stained wood.
2. Pied a tier – Every piece in this collection had to serve double duty as in any small pied a tier there is little room. The coffee tables are also storage units, the cabinets serve as room dividers, mirrors and can hold up to five drawers each.
3. Rattan – The idea of contemporary furniture with natural materials.
4. Contemporary Cubist – The idea that shape and form are derived from the mind’s eye and express energy beyond that so a static piece. I do study art and go to almost all of the art shows and yes I love George Braque. Check out the exhibit at the MFA Houston. Braque from 1906 till 1960!
How did you develop the line and how long did it take?
LR: The lines were developed over the course of about a year. The entire product is designed to fill a certain need and to myself, I call it “Contemporary Family” as it is about how a contemporary minded family lives these days. The furniture must serve a practical purpose but be designed as an art object – pleasant to view. I start with a loose sketch and when I like it I draw it more precisely. The more orthogonal ones go straight from my hand to the team at Bolier who will engineer them. I have a very good understanding of what it takes to put a piece of furniture together whether it is a case good or a chair, so I add a lot of notes with sizes, proportions, descriptions and the concept. For the more free form ones, I enlist one of my team who utilizes the beauty of modern day technology better than I do! The team at Bolier does shop drawings form my drawings and sends them to me to redline. From this, prototypes are made and I go to see them and make any final changes/modifications.
(Click images to enlarge)
Do you feel your experience as an interior designer and architect influences how you design furniture? How?
LR: Absolutely, a good Architectural and or Interior Design education requires you to think about every aspect and detail your design – how it looks from different angles, how it reflects lights, how it fills a space physically and visually and fits into the overall space. Consider the dining table from the Montauk Gray line, for example. I did not want the dining table to be this big serious thing, so I designed one with an acrylic base so the top appears to float aligning with the view of the ocean just above the top of it. My background as a space designer taught me the importance of scale and proportion. I think this has been forgotten or set aside and is truly one of the most important aspects of design.
Do you see any distinction between how you look at designing furniture versus a commercial office space, hotel, or even your own home?
LR: Furniture is a little more personal and on the other hand not personal at all as it is meant for any and everybody – literally! It is odd as no one is telling you what to do, there is little program and no initial space in which the pieces must fit, but you intuitively and through experience impose parameters on yourself so that the product will work in a variety of places. Not to say that I ever think about “dumbing anything down” so it will have mass appeal – not at all as I do now. But, I do look very closely at the dimensions, size and scale so it will fit in a variety of locations where it might be desired. I also think about durability as that is important. So, I guess the biggest difference is that you are designing without knowing the exact context or end user.
What was the most challenging aspect of designing the Rottet Home for Bolier Collection?
LR: Not challenging, just enlightening and fun. I had worked for Decca (Sister company to Bolier) and therefore knew the steps. Their in-house design and production team is experienced and the leadership team is directed by Richard Herbst who is very knowledgeable when it comes to product design! Rob Casey, new to Bolier, but with a formidable background that includes Martha Stewart and Ralph Lauren, knows his market, give you great direction, but does not at all inhibit. A good combination, so I cannot say it was challenging other than paring down which designs we would bring to market first!
Should we expect to see another furniture or product line in the future?
Where will the Rottet Home for Bolier be available for purchase?
LR: It will be available for sale starting April at the Bolier showroom at the New York Design Center as well as other to the trade and retail.
And, we understand your dream project would be developing an office building where each floor has a high volume space – interlocking volumes, not just typical 9’ ceiling spaces. What would your dream furniture project be?
LR: So fun! Where did you hear this? That is true. I am always having to design within a 9′ volume. People are inspired by change in ceiling height and volume. I love this idea that one part of the space goes up and the other down like interlocking pieces and that some are just two story. A dream furniture project would be to design everything for a particular home from the furniture and rugs to the accessories and lights. To create a line of furniture and rugs that you can change a little each time to customize it for the customer as you would a custom made dress. To reposition found furniture into new beautiful designs by cutting, painting and or adorning or subtracting from it.