Lone Star House of Design | A Texas Sized Talk with Kyle Bunting, Jan Showers, Lauren Rotet & Fern Santini

This is Lone Star House of Design, a podcast about all things design and architecture form the Great State of Texas with a panel conversation featuring some of the biggest names in American design today, and all from Texas. The following conversation is part of the Wellness and Design Leadership Series presented by ThermaSol and you are not going to want to miss a moment of this one featuring a panel of design icons, all from Texas. This is a conversation with Kyle Bunting & friends.

I met Kyle Bunting through my friend and amazing publicist, Andrew Joseph. He reintroduced me to Kyle with whom my last contact was not direct but through designer Christopher Kennedy who designed my Small Space, Big Style design house which featured a stunning Kyle Bunting rug. Kyle Bunting is producing some of the most stunning rugs in the world, all from his studio in Austin, Texas. The work is groundbreaking and has turned the Hyde rug, the original luxury item into an art form, unrivaled and completely original.

After my conversation with Kyle, he said, “let’s do something really cool” and invited three incredible guests to join for a group chat about the state of design in Texas. This group included;

Fern Santini – Santini’s work is completely original, it’s bold and refined with a wild streak that is unmistakeable and wonderful. Fern’s use of furniture, color and materials blends design into a hand crafted sculpture of space, materials and light.

Lauren Rottet – Rottet is the complete designer. Architect, interior designer, furniture designer and art curator. Founding principal and president of Rottet Studio. I could list her accolades, but there would be no time left for the conversation.

Jan Showers – Showers is another world-class designer from Texas, and I don’t use this term lightly, at all. Her work is elegant, unique and layered, like an Impasto at times, glazing others. Her spaces art artfully placed and painted to create a multi-dimensional environment. That, to me has always been the true essence of design.

Some idea came up during our conversation that bears repeating here. Texas design is very different by geography. Austin is funky and weird, yet still a college town and state capitol. The spirit of Austin is strong and diverse base on the the influence of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Kinky Friedman, Michael Dell, Tito Beveridge combined with some of the most interesting architecture you can find around the state capitol and the University of Texas campus. It’s still a relatively small city but it doesn’t feel that way. The addition of a technology hub to the already vibrant music scene and South By South West, Austin is poised for even greater heights but at what price? The traffic, cost of living, loss of architecturally significant structures to make way for more livable space? Yeah, that’s probably coming.

Having spent 9 years living in Dallas, I can tell you that this city is rich in arts and cultural experiences. If you ask many outside of Texas, they will tell you about Tom Landry, J.R Ewing and Roger Staubach. Sure, Dallas is a world-class sports town, I get it. But the arts and culture scene in Dallas goes far beyond what you hear about Dallas on ESPN. The City Hall building in Dallas, designed by I.M Pei and Theodore J. Musho is a brutalist statement piece. Pei also designed the Meyerson Symphony Center and with that, added a simply exquisite and acoustic masterpiece to the “Metroplex”. Fair Park, home of the State Fair of Texas is an Art Deco oasis crafted by architect, George Dahl. There is far more to explore, and I encourage you to do just that!

So what about Houston? Oil energy money, right? Sure. There is a significant link between oil barons and the arts, it’s true. Try to find an American city that was built on energy money that does not hav significant art, architecture and design. Houston is no different. The city has incredible art installations, a museum district, architectural representations of almost any era you can recollect and it does so without screaming, “look at me.” Because of this, many people don’t. But, you should.

The Texas cities not mention here include; San Antonio, Laredo, Marfa, Alpine, Waco, Lubbock… Wait, Lubbock? This is my point. Even in a seemingly quiet and unassuming city like Lubbock, Texas, there is art and architecture. The unfinished home designed by Robert Bruno, were it in Los Angeles or New York, would be on architecture tours. This is a steel sculpture, uninhabited sine 2008 and sits it the harsh Lubbock summers and winters all the while, its patina deepens and grows more spectacular. The shape is alien, almost like the helmet of an alien from another galaxy peering into the canyon. Unbelievable and inexplicable.

My point is this, Texas and texans don’t live by your rules, they have their own. If they want to try something, they will and if it doesn’t work, they will try something else. What you will also find is a healthy respect for those pioneers who came before them. That spirit of respect and experimentation has made for a uniquely special and artistic place, much like Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York. The difference is many on the coast aren’t willing to risk the social capital that comes with experimentation. This is a differentiator and much of what makes the Texas design communities so fun to follow.

This is Lone Star House of Design with an episode were calling an afternoon with Kyle Bunting and Friends featuring Jan Showers, Lauren Rottet and Fern Santini, part of the Wellness and Design Thought leadership Series presented by ThermaSol.

Thank you, Lauren, Fern Jan and Kyle, this was amazing. Thank you Walker Zanger and ThermaSol for your support and Thank you for subscribing and downloading the show and If you are not already, please subscribe so you catch every episode of Lone Star House of design and Convo By Design the moment they are published. You can also ask your smart speaker to play Convo By Design.

And if you REALLY want more, follow along, ConvoByDesign.Com and @ConvoXDesign with an “X” on Instagram. For show inquiries, sponsorship and guest inquiries, email me ConvoByDesign at outlook dot com. Be well and until next week, remember to take today first.