Lauren Rottet was enthralled by Houston’s skyscraper boom in the early 1980s. “Watching all those tall buildings go up so fast was fascinating,” the designer recalls. When she had the chance to peek inside a few of them, she says she was “disappointed by how unattractive they were.” Eventually tasked with the interiors for several of these high-rises herself, Rottet vowed to transcend the bland spaces she glimpsed previously.
Rottet’s first brush with architecture was as a child, when the Waco, Texas native built little houses out of rocks for horned toads, a passion that was nurtured—after a false start in pre-med and art studies—at the University of Texas at Austin. After working for Skidmore, Owings & Merrill in Chicago and Los Angeles, where she cofounded a design practice, Rottet launched her eponymous Houston studio in 2008 (she now counts offices in New York and LA) moving between the residential, hospitality, retail, and office realms.
In 2017, she unveiled the Rottet Collection, a range of furniture and lighting suited to her minimal, lyrical rooms influenced by the Light and Space movement. There is the sculptural Artis swivel chair swathed in mohair, for instance, as well as the marble-clad Walking Bench, whose angled legs give the illusion of taking an elegant stroll. There’s also the Dichroic side table fashioned out of metal oxide-tinged sheets of glass to refract light and a 20th-century-inspired rattan settee.
No matter what object or space is in front of her, Rottet knows the design will ultimately reflect “a solid thought that I have in my mind,” she explains, singling out her Float chair as an example. Melding solid walnut and acrylic, it was born from the notion that “people don’t really think about a chair before they sit in it. I thought it would be interesting to create something that someone had to look at and wonder: ‘Can I sit in this? Will it hold me?’”
Like her architecture and design projects—which currently include a San Francisco residential tower and hotel properties in Austin, Milwaukee, and Lake Geneva, Wisconsin—Rottet’s products are imbued with a sense of movement and discovery, and she views all of them as hand-numbered collectibles. They harken back to a time, she adds, when buying furniture was a commitment—when it was “a little more handmade, a little more precious.”
This article originally appeared in HD’s 2022 Product Marketplace issue.