In response to our rapidly changing world, IIDA brings you a design-focused dialogue on the effects of a global crisis. Watch the first webinar in the series now.
As we all adjust to a strange new “normal” and prepare for our inevitable “what next,” the design industry has begun to grapple with the changing world and what it means for the future of the built environment. On March 26, a panel of design experts joined IIDA Executive Vice President and CEO Cheryl S. Durst, Hon. FIIDA, and a virtual audience of nearly 1000 design industry professionals, for an important community discussion on how their firms are adapting technology, adjusting expectations, supporting their employees, and overcoming unprecedented challenges.
Watch the first webinar in the series:
Cheryl S. Durst, Hon. FIIDA Executive Vice President and CEO IIDA, Chicago
Gina Berndt, FIIDA ASID Principal, Managing Director Perkins+Will, Chicago
Susan Chang, AIA Partner Shimoda Design, Los Angeles
Jordan Goldstein, IIDA, AIA Principal & Global Director of Design Gensler, Washington, D.C.
Tara Headley, Assoc. IIDA Interior Designer Hendrick, Atlanta
Join John Czarnecki, Hon. IIDA, deputy director and senior vice president of IIDA, and a group of design leaders in a discussion on the critical importance of adapting healthcare design in this historic global moment.
This post was contributed by Jen Levisen, communications director at Mortarr.
IIDA and AIA Chicago kicked off the second season of their Designers & Architects Talk series on February 11. First up, a conversation between IIDA Executive Vice President and CEO Cheryl S. Durst, Hon. FIIDA, and Lauren Rottet, FIIDA, FAIA, a celebrated interior designer with over 60 million square feet of built design.
The 2020 season of the Designers & Architects Talk series kicked off on February 11 at IIDA Headquarters with a fireside chat between Cheryl S. Durst and celebrated interior architect Lauren Rottet—or as Durst introduced her, “the Patron Saint of Badassery.”
“So, how did a nice girl from Waco, Texas, end up with an architecture degree?” Durst asked.
“When I was growing up [in Waco], all you could really do was go to church and play outside,” said Rottet. “So, while I did a little bit of the church thing, I also played in the rocks and mud, building houses for the horned toads and frogs I’d catch outside.” From there, her family moved to Houston, where frogs and mud were limited and she eventually turned to art.
Rottet ended up enrolling in the University of Texas at Austin to be a doctor—“Thank God I didn’t do that!”—but found herself strongly drawn to art and architecture. After graduating with a Bachelor of Architecture degree in 1980, she began her career in San Francisco, where she practiced with the accomplished residential design firm Fisher Friedman Associates. She then relocated to Chicago to join Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) and focused on high-rise office design. Her work with SOM took her back to Houston, where she was the senior designer on several significant high-rise buildings, museums, and planning projects.
When the building boom stopped, Rottet focused her creative energies on interiors and was asked by SOM to start an interiors practice in Los Angeles. After successfully building that practice, Rottet and several SOM partners joined forces to create the architecture and interiors firm Keating Mann Jernigan Rottet. Soon, the partners joined Daniel Mann Johnson & Mendenhall (DMJM) to expand their practice further. Rottet was principal-in-charge of the interiors practice DMJM Rottet for 14 years. In 2008, she left to form the privately held, WBE-certified, Rottet Studio.
With a team of architects and designers she has worked with for as many as 25 years, Rottet Studio has grown into an international architecture and design firm with an extensive portfolio of corporate and hospitality projects for the world’s leading companies and brands. With offices in Houston, Los Angeles, and New York, Rottet Studio is not just Rottet’s body of work, but a reflection of the woman herself.
“Home,” she told Durst, “is where the dogs are, so Houston—and they don’t like to travel. Houston is where I was raised, and my family is there, so I moved back.” However, Rottet had always wanted to work in New York, so when she started Rottet Studio, she opened a New York office. After purchasing a George Nelson-designed home in Montauk, she now calls New York home, too.
“The true definition of design is that you create a solution; you create a something that has not existed before.”
— Lauren Rottet, FIIDA, FAIA
With design studio offices across the country, a portfolio that leaves no sector untouched, and an award-winning line of furnishings including case goods, seating, tables, and lighting, how does Rottet measure success these days? “Hotels measure success every day, instantaneously,” she said, “and their ROI is directly related to the design and how well the hotel works.”
Rottet cites her work on The Surrey Hotel in New York City’s Upper East Side, her second hotel project ever, as a standard-bearer for success in her mind. “It was ranked the number one hotel in New York for every year the first ten years it was around, so I think that constitutes success,” she said.
“I never separated office design, hotels, this or that,” Rottet said when asked about embracing the blurring of design sectors. “The world separates us, wants to categorize us. “When we interview for office space, I show them as much of our hotel work as I do our office work,” she added. “Offices are becoming a lot of fun.”
Rottet also noted that it’s an exciting time for the hospitality industry, citing thriving social hubs within hotels. “When Ace Hotel built their Social Hub, it was where everyone hung out, and the hotel became the social hub of the city, and it went viral,” she said.
Durst agreed: “It was the moment when hotels became not for guests only, but the neighborhood, becoming the neighborhood’s living room. We’re looking at that in Chicago’s Fulton Market now, where everyone feels like they have access to those public spaces.”
“Design is about the connectivity,” says Rottet, bringing up the Hoxton in Chicago, which has become well-known for its coworking environment.
So how has Rottet managed to do “all the things” so gracefully over the years?
“It is really hard,” Rottet admits. “You look back and think, wow, I should probably have spent more time doing this or that, but I truly believe failure is not the opposite of success. Failure is a part of success. The beauty of what we do is that we are learning every day, and we learn from both our mistakes and our failures.”
“People always talk about what’s going to change, what something or someplace will look like in 10, 20, or 50 years, but,” Durst asked Rottet, “What will endure about design?”
“A professor once told me if I recognized what I was doing, I’m not designing,” she says. “The true definition of design is that you create a solution; you create something that has not existed before. Design is pushing the edges to better society with the tools you are making.”
Join us in Chicago for the upcoming Designers & Architects Talk event, New Design Firms Changing the Face of Chicago, on April 14, 2020.
Advance tickets are required for all talks. Visit designerstalk.eventbrite.com to purchase tickets and to see for full schedule details. Discounts are available for IIDA and AIA members, and a limited number of free student seats will be made available for each session. A series ticket is available for a seat at all four sessions.
For each talk, attendees will be able to obtain either 1 AIA-approved LU or 1 IDCEC-approved CEU.
A special thanks to our 2020 Designers & Architects Talk sponsors:
The 2020 season of the Designers & Architects Talk Series, presented by IIDA and AIA Chicago, is underway with an exciting lineup. On March 10, IIDA Headquarters will host Repositioned and Reimagined, a discussion on three of the most newsworthy and timely interior transformations in Chicago: Willis Tower, Tribune Tower, and Old Post Office.
Currently the largest example of adaptive reuse in the country, the repositioning of the Old Chicago Main Post Office has given the nine-story Art Deco building a second life. Once serving as the main post office for the Midwest region, the structure welcomed new tenants beginning last fall, including major local company headquarters like Walgreens and Ferrara Candy Company. More workplace tenants, including Uber and PepsiCo, will occupy the building in the coming months.
For the reimagining of Willis Tower’s public spaces, Heiser and his team had a heady task: designing an enhanced experience for both the thousands of office workers who visit the building each day, as well as tourists and the general public. The ambitious renovation reimagines the first five floors of the skyscraper, creating a mixed-use space called “Catalog.”
One of the most iconic buildings in Chicago, the Tribune Tower (below)—a result of a notable architectural design competition nearly a century ago—had been home to the venerable newspaper until it recently moved a few blocks away. The
included in this discussion, notes, “All three projects are about city building; all are important to the fabric of Chicago.”
Repositioned and Reimagined: Willis Tower, Tribune Tower, and Old Post Office
Advance tickets are required. Visit designerstalk.eventbrite.com to purchase tickets and to see full schedule details for this event and the full series. Discounts are available for IIDA and AIA members, and a limited number of free student seats will be made available for each session. A series ticket is available for a seat at the remaining three sessions.
For each talk, attendees will be able to obtain either 1 AIA-approved LU or 1 IDCEC-approved CEU.
Tuesday, March 10 Reception: 5:30 p.m. Discussion: 6:15 p.m.
IIDA Headquarters 111 E. Wacker Drive
Admission* Price per session: $10 member, $20 nonmember
Series of three remaining sessions (March 10, April 14, May 5): $25 member, $50 nonmember
A special thanks to our 2020 Designers & Architects Talk sponsors:
As we near the end of the decade, we look back and understand that the confluence of hospitality and workplace has been the most significant movement in commercial interior design—a decade defined by the breakdown of barriers of design typologies in commercial interiors. And this convergence will likely continue and become more pronounced in the coming years. That was the premise to begin a November panel discussion that I moderated, hosted by Room & Board at its New York showroom.
More than 125 design professionals attended the lively event, with panelists Tim Duffy, Ind. IIDA, national key accounts manager for Room & Board; Annie Lee, IIDA, principal at ENV, and current IIDA New York Chapter president; Krista Ninivaggi, IIDA, founder of K+Co; and Barry Richards, IIDA, principal at Rockwell Group.
From left to right: Panelists Tim Duffy, Krista Ninivaggi, Annie Lee, John Czarnecki, and Barry Richards. Photo by: Josh Wong Photography
The panelists explored the influence of hospitality design in creating welcoming workplace interiors, whether for established clients or co-working spaces—a work setting that, in many ways, supplies an “amenity base” for employees. With a client’s brand expressed in the interior, workplaces are designed for community and face-to-face interactions as well as productivity and employee wellness. This evolution has changed how designers specify contract furniture, with ancillary furnishings now representing the majority of furniture for a workplace interior.
“In the past, workstations and office desks were considered the main portion of the furniture order defining the overall office mood and character,” Lee said. “More and more, specialized social hubs for eating, meeting, and brainstorming have become the cultural focus, similar to what is found in hotels and restaurants. What was once called ancillary spaces are just as important, if not the main feature.”
“This influence of hospitality is infiltrating the workplace and challenging the notion of how we work,” Ninivaggi says. “Can we improve our relationship with ‘work’ by orchestrating the day-to-day through the built environment?”
More than 125 design professionals filled the Room & Board New York showroom for the event. Photo by: Josh Wong Photography
With a labor market that is still highly competitive, the design of the workplace matters to attract and retain employees—just one important element for building employee loyalty. And somewhat similarly, in hospitality design, a savvy interior that responds to today’s needs helps to build guest loyalty. As technology and travel enable work to be anywhere at any time, the panelists discussed how the design of hospitality interiors is allowing for collaboration and casual productivity within hotels.
“With the help of improved mobility in technology, the workplace can be anywhere,” Ninivaggi said. “Now, the lobbies of hip hotels shift the paradigm from ‘out-of-office social places,’ to the new yet familiar feel of informal ‘collab rooms.’ The business hotel as we knew it is gone, and it has been replaced by the warmly entertaining hotel.”
How is this change influencing furniture specifications for hotels? “Tables are the new sofas. We cannot put enough tables in our projects across the board,” Ninivaggi said. “People tote their technology everywhere and can easily be immersed in their occupations so long as they find a well-placed seat and table to perch.”
Featured image: Speakers listen as Annie Lee, IIDA, describes the influence of hospitality on her workplace projects. Photo by: Josh Wong Photography
The 5th annual IIDA Advocacy Symposium, held this past September in Boston, was a resounding success thanks to a bevy of informative speakers, engaged attendees, and meaningful advocacy conversations. We cannot say thank you enough to our sponsors IdeaPaint who hosted the opening reception, and Allsteel who hosted Saturday’s event.
IIDA member attendees tour the Massachusetts State House. Photo by: Caitlin Cunningham
On Friday, attendees were welcomed to the Massachusetts State House, one of the premier examples of Federal architecture on the East Coast. Docents gave a guided tour of the historic building before attendees settled in for a keynote presentation from Arline Isaacson, president of Isaacson Consulting. Ms. Isaacson was a lead advocate in the fight for marriage equality in Massachusetts and integral in the passage of the first same-sex marriage law in the United States. Her inspirational story included practical advice on having more than just a good idea, but how to do the work to back it up. Next up, our lobbyists from Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Ohio, and Utah had an enlightening panel conversation about the work that goes into passing a piece of interior design legislation in today’s political climate.
2019 Advocate of the Year Chealyn Jackson, IIDA. Photo by: Caitlin Cunningham
The day ended with an awards ceremony, naming Chealyn Jackson, IIDA, VP of advocacy for the Ohio-Kentucky Chapter, the 2019 IIDA Advocate of the Year. Three Legislator of the Year awards were presented by IIDA New England to their bill sponsors, Senator (MA) Joan Lovely, Representative (MA) Elizabeth Poirier, and Representative (MA) Patricia A. Haddad.
On Saturday, we focused on the successes and challenges of advocacy at the chapter and the state levels. Members from Oregon, Texas, Wisconsin, and South Florida shared techniques for successful advocacy, discussed challenges they have overcome, and identified opportunities for the future of interior design advocacy. Next up, Tracey Thomas, director of strategic sales at IIDA, gave an energetic presentation on the power of persuasion that provided attendees with communication strategies tailored for advocacy efforts.
Attendees of the Symposium. Photo by: Caitlin Cunningham
The Council for Interior Design Qualification (CIDQ) provided an update, which was followed by a panel discussion covering the changing and unchanging landscape of interior design legislation that featured John Czarnecki, Hon. IIDA, Assoc. AIA, deputy director and senior vice president of IIDA; Megan Blacklidge, IIDA, Mid-America Chapter member; Matthew Whitehead, vice president of the Governmental Policy Group, Inc; and Amy Coombs, founder and executive director of Prestige Government Relations.
This was followed by two panel discussions to close out the weekend; the first focusing on effective communication strategies for chapter leaders to engage their chapters in advocacy efforts, and the second focusing on discussing advocacy at multidisciplinary firms.
We can’t wait to see you all next year at the 6th annual IIDA Advocacy Symposium!
Sign up to receive information on the latest advocacy emails and text alerts from IIDA or text “IIDA” to 52886.
Sydney Peña, Associate IIDA, the 2019 IIDA Student of the Year, and interior designer at Axis Architecture + Interiors recalls her first month on the job and shares her journey from graduation to the professional world.
I recently completed three enormous life moments in a matter of a few months—receiving my college diploma, marrying my best friend, and starting my first full-time job—things have been very exciting for me! So exciting, that I wanted to share with future designers a little bit about my journey from graduation, finding my first job, and my first month as a professional designer.
Know what you want, and build a community that can help you get there
I had participated in the IIDA Student Mentoring Program during my last semester at school, and my mentor helped guide me through the different phases of my job search. I decided to look at smaller to mid-sized firms in hopes that a boutique firm would provide different experiences and opportunities than the larger companies I had interned with. I wanted to work on many different kinds of projects and to feel more connected to my community and coworkers. Also very important to me was finding a firm with a culture that felt familial and collaborative and would provide opportunities to grow as a designer.
I found my job through a mutual connection in the industry. Although I didn’t know anyone at the time who worked at Axis Architecture + Interiors, my current firm, a designer I knew in the community did and introduced us. It’s crazy how your network really can open up opportunities.
Today, I am an interior designer at Axis Architecture + Interiors, located in downtown Indianapolis. Axis is a mid-sized commercial architectural design firm that serves civic, corporate, healthcare, housing, industrial, and retail clients.
Stepping into professional life is all about learning and goal-setting
I am on a team of four designers, three of whom are architects. I report to my mentor, who is a senior interior designer, daily, and every week I report to my project manager who is an architect. Since my firm is made up of a few dozen employees, the studio is organized into two large teams made up of different roles, that then break out into different smaller teams based on the needs of a project. Getting to work with people who have different backgrounds than me has been a wonderful learning opportunity.
My first week was all about feeling out the company, the structure, the people, and its leadership. I spent time getting acquainted with the way the firm operates and started familiarizing myself with the scope of the work. I was pulled on a couple of projects, met a ton of people, and had my first client meeting. I attended quite a few lunch-and-learns and set up a time with my manager to go over my short-term and long-term career goals.
During my second week, I dove a bit deeper into everything. With the first two projects I worked on, I got to work directly with the partners of the firm. Getting to collaborate frequently with leadership is a unique opportunity to have as a young designer and makes you feel more comfortable with collaborating, talking, and presenting in front of others—especially with people who are in senior roles.
Peña accepting her 2019 IIDA Student of the Year Award Photo by: Jordan Fuller
Detail, specify, notate, and repeat
In my third week, I dove even deeper into the projects I was assigned, utilizing Revit quite a bit. I attended an on-site Revit training session and learned new tricks from my mentor to “work smarter, not harder,” which I enjoyed. For the most part, I felt like school had prepared me for the “real world,” but of course real-world projects are more comprehensive than school projects. I realized that school projects left room for things to get swept under the rug, but especially working for an architecture firm, I’ve learned you can’t leave things up for interpretation. Detail, specify, notate, and repeat!
By my fourth week, I felt that I was getting the hang of things, even though I still felt very new. I began to understand what my role was, and what everybody else’s was too. During this first month, I used a lot of trash paper; sketched concepts; took on a lot of “redlines”; pulled finishes; called on reps; created many renderings utilizing Revit, Enscape, and Photoshop; and created presentations to help communicate my design to clients.
IIDA student programs provide growth opportunities during and after school
If you’ve ever heard the phrase “drinking out of a fire hydrant,” that’s essentially what my first month was like. My advice to future designers is to spend your first month absorbing all that you can—be a sponge. Ask a lot of questions, listen, be patient with yourself, and find a person you can confide in as you navigate this new terrain whether it’s a friend, co-worker, or mentor. Write down your goals and keep them visible so you can refer to them as a reminder of where you want to be, and what steps you are taking to get there.
Involve yourself with IIDA while in school (and after!), because it provides you with community and opportunity once you’re out of school. Join this year’s IIDA Student Mentoring Program! You could gain a mentor that can help guide you through landing your first job and act as a valuable connection to the professional design community.