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Novel Approach

(January / February 2012) posted on Tue Feb 28, 2012

Lauren Rottet, Boutique Design’s Designer of the Year, brings projects to life by writing story lines for each one, including The Surrey hotel shown above.

By Mary Scoviak

click an image below to view slideshow

Lauren Rottet  has logged 25 years as a serious curve wrecker in project design  and process development. She’s changed the boundaries of the scope of work from delivering just another pretty space to “improving the human experience through the built environment.” She’s expanded the studio president’s skill set beyond creativity and management to marketing, establishing client relationships with all of the project team members and mastering the art of being social, from social networking to social responsibility.

She also learned to run—as in running on adrenalin, regularly sending her last (first?) emails of the day around 3 a.m. and sketching out ideas in bed before dawn, and running around a construction site in gravity-defying Christian Louboutin heels. And she understands that, even with an envy-inducing portfolio and a page-long list of awards and professional accolades—including being the only woman in history to be elevated to Fellow by both the American Institute of Architects and the International Interior Design Association—you’re never too big to fail.

“Nobody is going to hand me work because I’m Lauren Rottet. I have to earn every project,” says the founding principal and president of Houston-based Rottet Studio. “I want the client to know that anyone who hires me gets all of me—that his or her hotel will be created from scratch, not just reinvented from pieces of projects we’ve done before.”

When she says “all,” she’s not exaggerating. She researches the client, the market and the brand identity of the hotel. Typically, Rottet stays in the neighborhood around the project for several weeks. She walks the area, observing how the population changes from day to night, visits local hotels, eats at the haunts only locals know, familiarizes herself with the sounds and smells that bring character to the environs and homes in on the aspects that make the lifestyle and cultural scene unique.

“What differentiates Lauren is her complete immersion in the setting,” says David Davis, Rottet Studio’s managing principal and, like most of her core staff, a long-time collaborator. “When she works with an owner, her participation in the process is all-encompassing. She doesn’t arrive at any project with preconceived notions about what will work. More than anything, her effectiveness is based on her ability to listen.”


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