IIDA’s annual NeoCon black-tie gala celebration is a special evening to honor the winners of two of the most prestigious competitions in the Interior Design profession – the 41st Annual Interior Design Competition and the 22nd Annual Will Ching Design Competition.

Prominent international Interior Designers and global design manufacturers gather for an evening of cocktails, dinner and dancing in the Grand Ballroom of The Ritz Carlton Chicago to celebrate the evening’s award winning design firms and their outstanding projects.

In honor of the rapidly approaching event, we visit with IIDA Senior Vice President Dennis Krause, Hon. IIDA for his thoughts on this grand occasion.

Q: How did COOL take shape and become the event that it is today?

DK: The gala was originally known as The Midnight Affair back in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. We used it as the official kick-off to NeoCon, back when NeoCon was a week-long event. It was called The Midnight Affair because it started at midnight and in the early days it was held a Navy Pier. It’s always been a staple of NeoCon, but through the years there have been many changes. From Midnight Affair, to just Affair; and then we realized branding was such a big part of the event and our identity. We came up with the name COOL because we felt that it represented the industry.

Q: COOL is such a large and instrumental part of NeoCon. Who plans such a big occasion?

DK: Well, I’ve been with the Association (IIDA) for 18 years, so this is my 17th COOL that I’ve been involved with. The person involved with industry relations — this year it’s Aisha Williams — has been very important, because the event relies on sponsorship. The industry relations person is able to coordinate with many of our corporate members to contribute to COOL. We want the Industry Members to be a part of an event that focuses on design excellence.

Q: What can someone who has never gone to COOL expect?

DK: They can expect a black-tie evening of Interior Designers, Manufacturers and Architects who really appreciate design excellence. It’s a variation of the Oscars. You have cocktails, you enjoy the award ceremony, and you finish the night with dinner and dancing. It’s a full range of networking and appreciation of Interior Design.


This years celebration will take place Sunday, June 8th at the Chicago Ritz-Carlton from 7-11pm. For more information regarding sponsorship and tickets, please contact Aisha Williams at awilliams@iida.org.

To connect with IIDA on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram throughout NeoCon use the hashtag #IIDA20


We are excited to give you not one, not two, but three featured products this month!  Williams-Sonoma, Industry IIDA, brings us the Atherton and Colonial chair, as well as, an inside look at the Umbria Collection.

Atherton Chair
Atherton pairs the timeless appeal of a wing chair with refined proportions that give it a clean, updated style. The upholstered back and loose seat cushion are generously padded for welcoming comfort; choose down or poly fill for the type of resilience you prefer.

Atherton Chair, Williams-Sonoma

Atherton Chair, Williams-Sonoma

Colonial Chair
Covered in premium top-grain leather, this chair gives Colonial style a luxe update. The leather’s supple feel and a rich look are accented by hand-hammered antiqued-brass nailheads and turned, bamboo-style front legs, while thick padding ensures comfortable support.

Colonial Chair, Williams-Sonoma

Colonial Chair, Williams-Sonoma

Umbria Collection
Sleek, sinuous curves are paired with a rich, rustic finish that showcases the whorls of natural wood grain. The unique result is a sculptural table with timeless appeal – a harmonious addition to traditional and modern spaces alike.

Umbria Collection, Williams-Sonoma

Umbria Collection, Williams-Sonoma


It seems more and more firms are either adding branded environments to their list of services or inserting “branded environments” somewhere into their firm name. So what is a branded environment anyway?  Is this a passing fad or a lasting tenet of design?

In marketing, branded environments extend the experience of an organization’s brand, or distinguishing characteristics as expressed in names, symbols and designs, to the design of interior or exterior physical settings.  It uses space as a physical embodiment of the brand to create a ‘brand space.’ This is achieved through architecture, interiors, lighting, graphics, landscape in spaces such as retail stores, showrooms, trade-fair booths and office environments.

Yelp! offices designed by Studio O+A

Yelp! offices designed by Studio O+A

Essentially, it is carrying the essence of the brand throughout multiple mediums. This is apparent – and crucial – now more than ever with people consistently toggling between physical and digital environments. Nowadays, we are not confined to only our physical environment because the digital experience is now on par with the physical.

Think of when you go out to a new restaurant. Our very first point of contact, or impression, is going to the restaurant’s website for directions, a phone number, their menu, photographs of the space, etc. This is a representation of the digital complementing the physical with the website providing an equally integral role in the restaurant experience as the physical visit.

CertusBank designed by 4240

CertusBank designed by 4240

Branded environments factor heavily into this example by carrying with them a message, visual, and experience from the digital to the physical world, and vice-versa. The digital and physical worlds – albeit very different in experience – are indelibly woven together, or need to be thought of as such, according to branded environments designers. In branded environments, threads are pulled through each environment in consistent and complementary ways to establish a total brand experience. The brick-and-mortar brand approach of having just the physical environment is not enough nowadays according to branded environments proponents; it needs a digital partner. Same for the digital – it cannot function effectively on its own, it needs the tangible, physical complement.

With it now increasingly natural for people to reside and work within a well-balanced convergence of the physical and digital, branded environments are extremely significant for brands in that they align the physical and digital in a completely unique way to produce well-rounded brand experience.


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?
LR: Definitely.

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.

View more of Lauren Rottet's 
Home for Bolier Collection here ⇒ 


Yabu Pushelberg will be honored with the IIDA Star Award during the IIDA Annual Meeting in June. With their studios in Toronto and New York, George Yabu and Glenn Pushelberg have developed and realized their vision through distinctive projects around the world, including Bergdorf Goodman New York; the Four Seasons Hotels in Toronto and Tokyo; the W Hotel in Times Square, New York; Louis Vuitton, Hong Kong; the Viceroy Maldives Resort, and many more.

Today, we try to narrow down our favorite projects to just five!

1. The London EDITION

As described by DesignBoom, the hotel reflects the grand traditions of great Britain: the traditional, aristocratic English country manor and the quintessential London private gentleman’s club with a modern, edgy, urban feel. When these diametrically opposed aesthetics come together, they create an alchemy that takes the hotel and the experience to an entirely new level.




2. Kate Spade

The Kate Spade offices embody both sophistication and youthfulness. Yabu Pushelberg bring to life the brand’s oft repeated tagline “live colorfully” through a whimsical tape installation created by Rebecca Ward and as pops of color lead you through the space.



3. Opus Hong Kong, Show Apartments

The show apartments in Frank Gehry’s first Asian residential development are enhanced by Yabu Pushelberg’s luxurious interiors. While luxe, Pushelberg did note to Wallpaper.com, ‘The mood of home design is changing,’ he says. ‘It is less about gilding the lily and more about quality of design and attention to detail. It is not about the most expensive materials. It has to function well, too.’



4. Fin Restaurant

The list of restaurants designed by Yabu Pushelberg is ever-growing. Here in Chicago we have the Pump Room, in Toronto Brasserie Aix, and in Las Vegas Fin. While each design is different, according to George Yabu you will never find a design featuring bad lighting, acoustics, or uncomfortable chairs.



5. Louis Vuitton, Hong Kong

Yabu and Pushelberg approach each project by first creating a story. WWD.com sat down with Pushelberg who explained, “we created a whole story line about this girl named Chloë. She’s from the Upper East Side and then went to NYU. She got married and went back uptown, but she still has this downtown attitude,” stated Pushelberg. We always come up with a script for clarity — both for ourselves and to keep clients on track.”