David Rockwell

Architect, experience designer
Architect David Rockwell draws on his love of drama and spectacle to create fantastic, high-impact restaurants, cultural facilities, airline terminals, theater sets — and playgrounds.

Why you should listen

David Rockwell, FAIA, is the Founder and President of Rockwell Group, an award-winning, cross-disciplinary architecture and design practice based in New York City with a satellite office in Madrid. The firm crafts a unique narrative for each project through the intersection of theater and architecture.

Projects include Nobu restaurants and hotels worldwide; The New York EDITION; the Union Square Cafe (New York); NeueHouse (New York and Los Angeles); the TED Theater (Vancouver); W Hotels worldwide; 15 Hudson Yards and The Shed in collaboration with Diller Scofidio + Renfro; the Imagination Playground initiative; and set designs for Falsettos, She Loves Me and Kinky Boots. From surface and floor coverings for Maya Romanoff, The Rug Company and Jim Thompson, to lighting for Rich Brilliant Willing, to furniture for Stellar Works and Knoll, the firm celebrates product design as a natural extension of its immersive environments.

Honors and recognition include 2016 Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for Best Scenic Design for She Loves Me; the AIANY President’s Award; Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award; the Presidential Design Award; Fast Company's World's Top 10 Most Innovative Companies; the James Beard Foundation Who's Who of Food & Beverage in America; and the Interior Design Hall of Fame. Rockwell serves on the boards of the Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS (DIFFA), Citymeals-on-Wheels, the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum and New York Restoration Project. He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects.

(Photo: Brigitte Lacombe)

What others say

“Rockwell always builds a bit of magic into his spaces. He uses materials and lighting to create the effect of being in a theater. To Rockwell, designing an environment means shaping an experience that lasts in the memory.” — BusinessWeek

David Rockwell’s TED talks

More news and ideas from David Rockwell


How to radically craft a stage design

November 28, 2018

It’s Friday afternoon, and TED staffers are cutting and folding strips of white felt, carefully sticking the little strips into grates of chicken wire stapled to wooden frames. On the floor are five large wood panels and some metal pans filled with paint. Just a normal day at TED’s headquarters. In less than a week, […]

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In Brief

A noninvasive method for deep brain stimulation, a new class of Emerging Explorers, and much more

June 16, 2017

As usual, the TED community has lots of news to share this week. Below, some highlights. Surface-level brain stimulation. The delivery of an electric current to the part of the brain involved in movement control, known as deep brain stimulation, is sometimes used to treat people with Parkinson’s disease, depression, epilepsy and obsessive compulsive disorder. […]

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