The International Perspective

08.08.2018

John Czarnecki, HON. IIDA, ASSOC. AIA

John Czarnecki, HON. IIDA, ASSOC. AIA

A native of Colombia, Patricia Rotondo, IIDA, brings a decidedly international perspective to her interior design work, and that sets her apart in Chicago where she has practiced for nearly 25 years. In early 2017, Antunovich Associates named her senior principal and director of interior design, charging her with the creation of a robust interiors studio within a firm that had been most well-known for architecture.

For her diverse portfolio of interiors, and her focus on giving back to the profession, she was honored as the IIDA 2018 Member of the Year. IIDA Senior Vice President and Deputy Director John Czarnecki interviewed Rotondo about her work, her design approach, and her desire to stay connected with design professionals in Colombia.

In less than two years with Antunovich, you have quickly grown the firm’s interiors practice with a design team of 18 people that have a mix of skill sets and expertise. How have you been able to develop an interiors team so quickly? Why is the mix so important? My team has coalesced through relationships. I like to hire personality and then I teach the craft of design as we practice it at Antunovich. My team has a wide range of experience in the workplace, hospitality, multi-family residential, restaurant, retail, senior living and higher education design. This mix of expertise brings different perspectives to every collaboration, resulting in a better end-product. Different minds really do come together for creative work!

What is unique about your approach to commercial interior design?

Working collaboratively with the architects, our team crafts an interconnected story that is conveyed through the spatial composition, both exterior and interior. We ask: How will someone experience the transition between the outside and inside? How does the exterior and interior design languages speak to one another? Our teamwork provides a cohesive design experience from beginning to end.

You are originally from Colombia but have practiced design in the U.S. for many years, including experience designing projects in Dubai and China. Are there lessons from your international perspective that inform your current work? 

The language of design speaks across all national borders. While cultural norms can be specific, design aesthetics are subjective. The design principles of balance, proportion, scale, and rhythm can be combined in a variety of ways to create amazing results in any location.

While you have established yourself in the U.S., you have remained connected with the design community in your native Colombia. Why do you feel strongly about maintaining that connection? What is your hope for the design community there?

No matter how many years I live abroad, Colombia will always be near and dear to my heart. Unlike when I was younger, the world is beginning to recognize the design community in Colombia for its talent and passion for design. I would love to see this recognition become commonplace with award-winning architects and designers, world-renowned buildings, and high-quality product exports.

Gabrielle Bullock: First African-American IIDA International Board President

What are you currently working on?

Our interiors studio has a broad range of work right now. A new home for the DePaul University School (pictured) of Music in Chicago is a large-scale ongoing project, with one portion that opened this summer and additional phases that will be complete beginning in 2019. We are designing a workplace for The Beach Company, a real estate development company, in Charleston, South Carolina, that will be complete in 2020. A spa is being designed for a confidential client, and we are completing many boutique multi-family amenity interiors in the Chicago area.

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