Navigating Boundaries For Success

Fall Market’s IFDA DesignEDGE Summit to feature top designers who defy the limits

“There are no boundaries anymore,” says Hall of Fame architect, interior designer, and product designer, Lauren Rottet. “There is no that's a house, that's a hotel, that's an office, so I’ll shop here for an office, here for a hotel, here for a house.” What does that mean for the designer? Two things: your role is more important than ever – and it’s more fluid.

River Oaks luxury high-rise, Houston, Lauren Rottet
Photo credit: Jack Thompson

“Design is really coveted, people want design, they want to be comfortable and they want to be exposed to design. That can be in a small insurance agency or a law firm, a hotel or a house," Rottet continues. “Everyone is really interested in design and the lines are becoming completely blurred.”

Foyer, private home, Lauren Rottet
Photo credit: Jack Thompson

In terms of product, as a designer, Rottet, like others in the field, is in a unique position to see what a space needs and what is and is not available in furnishings. Her product introductions, including the award-winning Rottet Collection of furniture, a new sofa for the iconic contract brand Haworth, and her FASCIO Collection of lighting for Visual Comfort & Co. are, in her words, “Either a solution to a found need, or the realization of an idea of how furniture can be set in space like a work of art, yet serve a functional and comforting need.”

When it came to expanding her business into product design, Elle Décor A-List Designer Sheila Bridges worked with the same principles. “As an African American living in Harlem, I have always been intrigued and inspired by the historical narrative of the decorative arts, especially traditional French toile with its pastoral motifs from the late 1700s,” says Bridges. “I'm entertained by the stories these patterns tell and the questions they sometimes raise. But after searching for many years for the perfect toile for my own home, I decided that it quite simply didn’t exist.”

Photo credit: Sheila Bridges

Photo credit: Sheila Bridges

The designer created Harlem Toile de Jouy initially as a wallcovering then expanded the collection to include fabrics, bedding, plates, glassware, umbrellas, and clothing. The design, which lampoons some of the stereotypes deeply woven into the African American experience, is now in the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum's permanent wallpaper collection.

Photo credit: Sheila Bridges

Photo credit: Sheila Bridges

Young Huh, another Elle Décor A-List designer – whose top floor artist’s studio at this spring’s Kips Bay Show House included her glass and mosaic Elements Collection for AKDO – also takes inspiration from what she sees the marketplace needs. “I am always on the hunt for new materials and technological innovations that give today’s consumers exciting options for customization and personalization,” advises Huh.

Young Huh Kips Bay Show House
Photo credit: Ngoc Minh Ngo

In terms of transitioning between residential and commercial design, the requirements for a hotel or office are of course more stringent. “Attention to detail is paramount,” says Huh, but as others will agree, “Each client has a unique point-of-view and my role is to transform that vision into reality while elevating it to its greatest potential.”

As far as furnishings, it makes sense to remind your clients that design is an investment, particularly when it comes to product. “I think people need to see furniture more like fashion, something that is worth the splurge,” concludes Rottet.