Anative 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.
JOHN CZARNECKI: In less than two years with
Antunovich, you have quickly grown the firm’s
interiors practice with a design team of 18
people who 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?
PATRICIA ROTONDO: 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 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?
PR: 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
PR: 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
PR: 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.
What are you currently working on?
PR: Our interiors studio has a broad range of work
right now. A new home for the DePaul University
School 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.
John Czarnecki, senior vice president and deputy director at IIDA,
sits down for a Q&A with the IIDA 2018 Member of the Year.
ABOVE Patricia Rotondo, IIDA, was recently honored as the IIDA 2018
Member of the Year. BELOW Originally from Columbia, she lives in
Chicago where she has practiced interior design for 25 years.
IIDA | Compiled by Adrian Thompson | Images courtesy of IIDA