Designer Rick Rozas Loves His Dogs and the Occasional Backward Compliment

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Designer Rick Rozas

Ordinarily, I make women artists and designers my focus for Designer’s Corner. However, after our first conversation, I knew that Rick Rozas was never just going to be a supporting character in one of my profiles. And so he’s back, because I wasn’t ready to part with him.

Asked what gets him out of bed in the mornings, Rick Rozas answers, “My dogs.” He’s either a bit of a smart ass (always possible with designers), or a guy who just really loves his pets. It becomes clear almost immediately that I’m dealing with both. Just how I like it.

Rick Rozas Loves a Backward Compliment

Where so many in the industry go out of their way to be inscrutable or aloof, Rozas comes across as immediately warm and accessible. He’s an open book. His clients gush about his manner. He’s calming. He’s kind. A delight.

For Rozas, though, the highest compliment might just be the least obvious.

“My favorite thing is when I’m interviewing with someone and they say, ‘I was at so-and-so’s house and they said you did it for them. But it doesn’t look like anything you would do!’” Rozas chuckles. “I have to laugh. Of course not! That’s the whole idea! A project having a reflection on me is not design.”

The best possible outcome for a project, Rozas says, is that it feels like an extension of his clients and how they live.

“I’ve always tried to be humble with my approach to my clients,” he said. “Because it’s an education to me on each project. Each person lives really, really differently and individually, even in the same space.”

“I Will Wear You Out”

Rozas takes great care to educate his clients on the finer points of design. Scale, for instance, plays a huge role in how it all comes together.

“To me doing a home is like getting dressed. If you understand how to dress yourself, you can do your home well. The only thing is the scale of the items. Once you grasp that, it transforms everything. You can play with the scale of things to create the illusion of space and distance.”

Scale comes into play in every element of his design. The height of dining chairs, the length of a sofa, the size of a chandelier, the height of a ceiling. It’s important in art selection, too. But with art, he tries to tread lightly. Mostly.

“Art is super personal,” he said. “You either like it or you don’t and you don’t have to give a reason why.” But Rozas laughs deeply before adding, “If I think you’re making the wrong decision, though, I will wear you out until you see it the way I do.”

No Time and Date Stamp

Aside from great art and clean lines, Rozas has a few design must-haves.

“I like plush materials. I like a big, giant sofa. But mostly, I like things that don’t show age and time. I don’t want them to be trendy,” he said.

“My approach to design is that It never has to be redone. I don’t like design to have a time date stamp. That is one of my first approaches to how I conceptualize a project, and goes down to every chair and pillow. It’s important to me that it never feel any particular period so it never has to be refreshed. That’s the most precise philosophy to how I approach a project no matter what the style.”

Inspiration Finds a Way

Rozas talks frankly about his insecurities as a designer and about feeling scattered or uninspired at times.

“At this age, I still think I’ll never have another really good project,” he confesses. But at this age, he’s also learned that feeling passes. Inspiration always finds a way.

“When you’re bored with design or you’ve just seen the same thing a million times, it’s nice to see something done in a unique and beautiful way,” he said. “You can’t force it upon yourself, I learned. I just sit back and start drawing in my head.”

He’s in his head quite a lot, too. “Half the time I look like I’m staring into the abyss,” he said, laughing. “But I’m drawing a floor plan in my head. I’m always thinking about a project. I think that’s what keeps me going.”

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Heather Hunter

In addition to a 15-year career in marketing and communications, Heather is an accomplished freelance writer and has contributed to The New York Times’ “Modern Love” column and “The United States of Dating” on National Public Radio. Her blog, This Fish Needs a Bicycle, was syndicated by NBC Universal (iVillage) for four years. As a ghostwriter, her work has appeared in publications such as WIRED and Stadia Magazine

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