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 talk

More news and ideas from David Rockwell

Live from TED

From thousands of pieces to a bespoke space for talks: how we built our pop-up TED theater

March 18, 2014

. The Next Chapter Theater at TED2014 smells incredible. That’s because it was constructed of Douglas Fir, harvested locally in the Pacific Northwest, and assembled on-site in Vancouver, Canada, over the past four and a half days. See, the Vancouver Convention Centre is perfect for TED—it’s beautifully designed, environmentally friendly, and has sweeping views of […]

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The making of the TED2014 theater: an early view

July 19, 2013

The TED2014 theater will be something audacious: a theater designed specifically for talks. TED stages in the past have had thrusts and three-quarter rounds, but have largely been determined by what existed in the venue. For TED2014, however, as we celebrate our 30th anniversary, we are building a temporary, pop-up theater designed just for us […]

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Meet TED2012 guest host Chee Pearlman: A short Q&A

February 28, 2012

For the third consecutive year, TED has invited a guest curator to host a session at the conference. This time, duties have fallen to a duo: design commentator, Chee Pearlman, and architect and founder of Rockwell Group, David Rockwell. The two are collaborating on “The Design Studio,” a session featuring a host of boldface creative […]

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