Rottet Studio principal on making the move from New York to LA.
By Matthew Hall
Second floor terrace at Naftali Group Residences, New York. Photo: Eric Laignel
When and why did you change jobs?
About a year after being named Boutique 18, I was promoted to associate principal at Rottet Studio. The new title brought new and welcome challenges, exposing me to not only a higher level of responsibility but also allowing me to be even more active in the field by doing speaking engagements and industry panel discussions. As for the change in location, after 15 years in New York, my family and I realized that we longed for an environment that would provide us with a lifestyle similar to the one we had growing up in Puerto Rico. So we packed our bags and moved to Los Angeles, thanks to a job opportunity from Wilson Associates to become design director for its Los Angeles office. After some months there, I realized it was simply not the right fit for me. Thanks to my great relationship with [Rottet Studio founder] Lauren Rottet, I was able to return to her studio, this time in its Los Angeles office. I’m looking to continue expanding my horizons, as well as boost the hospitality portfolio for our West Coast office.
Enrique Vela, Boutique 18 Class of 2014 and associate principal, Rottet Studio; Los Angeles. Photo: Meiram Wunder
What major changes have you seen in the design field since being named to the B18?
It’s certainly been a very interesting couple of years for being a hospitality designer. The biggest change I’ve seen is brands wanting to evolve to appeal to younger, yet highly affluent clients, who are not easily impressed by nice finishes and good service. This new clientele looks for true authenticity as an experience and completely seamless service that’s attentive but not intrusive. Many of the larger brands have reinvented themselves again simply to satisfy this new challenge. In addition, the push from sharing-economy companies such as Airbnb have forced the hospitality industry to rethink what it means to be a hotel now, as well as 10 or 20 years from now.
How did becoming part of the B18 impact your career?
It augmented my exposure to many other aspects of the industry, and also provided a platform for me to be able to be more open and vocal about my industry perspective.
What are you working on now?
Recent projects include Target’s PR and marketing office in New York, and some luxury residences by Naftali Group (shown), also in New York. As for what I’m working on now: Shhh!….. It’s top secret! All I can right now say is I’m looking to infuse some of my residential and hospitality experience into some very open-minded corporate clients who are looking to expand their companies into new markets. Also, together with the rest of the Rottet team, we’re looking to turn this industry upside down and evolve our practice into its next phase. Exciting times ahead!
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