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Architect David Rockwell on the Importance of Design

The founder of The Rockwell Group believes in “creating memories,” not just buildings.

Brought to you by ILTM and Robb Report, the Leaders of Luxury web series explores the future of luxury through the eyes of those who are determining it—the visionaries behind the world’s premier brands. In this episode, we sit down with award-winning architect David Rockwell. The founder of the multi-disciplinary studio The Rockwell Group in New York City has been reimagining the design experience for more than 30 years. His practice is a hybrid, serving as both architectural firm and creative laboratory (complete with a shop room where sets are modeled and built). Rockwell has been involved in category-defining hospitality projects like the Nobu restaurants and hotels—a partnership that’s expanded over the past two decades, and includes the debut of the Nobu Hotel Barcelona early next year.

A trailblazer of storytelling in design, Rockwell won the 2016 Tony award for Best Scenic Design in the Roundabout Theater’s Broadway revival of the musical She Loves Me. His portfolio includes notable hospitality and residential projects along with retail and civic works—all extremely varied in style and concept. Which is to say, there is no standard Rockwell look applied to the interiors or exteriors of the spaces he is involved in.

As a true New Yorker, Rockwell’s name is closely associated with innovative projects that continue to evolve the country’s cultural capital. The Shed and 15 Hudson Yards, in collaboration with Diller Scofidio + Renfro, are both boundary-pushing spaces—residential and public—that consider the broader context of architecture, the natural world, and human interaction. Rockwell is refreshingly open-minded and optimistic about his craft—regarding his role as more nuanced than just creating buildings. His team devotes energy, innovation, and an almost anthropological level of research to discovering the unique characteristics of each space and the experience of being in them.

Here, Rockwell discusses his approach why he is “obsessed” with firsts and how the world can benefit from design.



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