David Rockwell is a creative force. His extensive body of work as a designer and that of his firm, the Rockwell Group, engage travelers in ways expected—at hotels, resorts, restaurants from New York City to Paris to Hong Kong—and unexpected, through a striking range of experiences like the JetBlue Terminal at JFK airport, or Shinola’s compact, yet roomy shop in TriBeCa.
The aptly titled book What if…? The Architecture and Design of David Rockwell succeeds at providing both a compelling overview and detailed insight into Rockwell’s career—and the impetus for it: a creativity sparked by curiosity and a limitless sense of possibility.
Those who have eaten at such dramatic Rockwell-designed spaces as Tao Downtown in NYC, might be surprised to learn that he also designed the sets for such Broadway shows as Hairspray as well as Kinky Boots. Or perhaps not. A love of storytelling forms the essential narrative in Rockwell’s world.
And while the volume, published by Metropolis Books, considers 30 years of his work, Rockwell’s projects have never seemed as diverse as they do right now: the inviting dining room of Gato, Bobby’s Flay’s new restaurant; Chefs Club, a gleaming showcase for chefs set within the historic Puck building; and the set design for the critically acclaimed revival of On the Twentieth Century, whose romance and capers take place on—what else?—a luxury train traveling from Chicago to New York.