Lauren Rottet is no stranger to the A&D limelight. The founding principal of international architecture and design firm Rottet Studio holds a long list of exemplary hospitality and corporate projects and industry recognitions, including awards for the Paper City Houston office design and Contract magazine’s (formerly Interiors) “Designer of the Year” (1994). Most recently, Rottet was inducted to the IIDA College of Fellows in May 2011, simultaneously giving her the distinct honor of being the first female on both the IIDA College of Fellows and AIA College of Fellows (inducted 1998).
1. Congratulations on your recent induction to the IIDA College of Fellows. How do you feel about becoming the first woman to gain the distinction of Fellow from both the IIDA and the AIA?
I am completely honored. I have always loved working as both an architect and a designer. I suppose I do not see the distinction between the two worlds and think of what I do as “design.” The interior design that we do at Rottet Studio is very much based on architectural concepts, as well as a knowledge and love of materials and craft.
2. Do you consider this your greatest accomplishment? If not, what is?
My greatest accomplishment has been raising my two children, who both turned out to be amazing, talented, and loving people. That said, I love this profession and am very pleased to have my peers recognize my efforts.
3. As a female designer, what specific challenges, if any, have you encountered throughout your career?
I have always been too naïve to realize that I might have any hardships at all. I never look at it this way. I rather think of us all as people doing what we love to do and working hard to make design a recognized and appreciated part of life.
4. Do you feel there is enough encouragement for women to enter a career in professional design?
I do think that woman overall are encouraged to enter into A&D. I do not know what the statistics are in terms of men verses women in the industry; but I do know that women design students only totaled 10 percent when I was in architecture school.
5. When did you first know you wanted to be a designer?
I lived in Waco, Texas, and spent most of my time making cities out of the gravel in our driveway. I remember seeing this one house (it was built over a creek) when I was five years old and realizing how amazing it looked. I began to daydream about having a house like that some day and I tried to copy it in the sand box and gravel drive. But I forgot all of this and decided I would be a doctor (as my father was) until my sophomore year at the University of Texas. That’s when I realized I really wanted to be involved with buildings and construction.
6. What is your definition of design?
Never doing anything that you totally recognize and always pushing the envelope. It must always be about creating something new and inspiring.
7. What do you like best about being a designer?
There are never any two days alike. I am always challenged. And, I love the people in this industry.
8. What are your favorite types of projects to work on?
I cannot say that I like hospitality more than commercial, or the other way around. My favorite projects are all about the people. I love inspiring great clients who make you do your best work.
9. What advice do you have for young designers in the A&D field?
Do get a good education from a good school. Do internships. Do not try to go out on your own right away. Respect your own thoughts and ideas but realize that you need to grow and nourish them to turn them into reality.
10. If you weren’t a designer, what job do you think you would have?
I guess I would be a fashion designer, or a landscape architect, or maybe have a flower shop; but those are all about design … I suppose that I’m just destined to design.