Designer Profile: Eddie Sotto of SottoStudios/LA

Sotto_headshot_1 (Custom)Name: Eddie Sotto

Company: SottoStudios/LA

Position within company: President









What direction do you feel design is moving towards in general terms?

Now that computers can not only aid design, but also execution with 3D printing and CNC milling, we can apply that technology to mass customisation. People today, especially in luxury want something they have not seen. This to me represents a return to fine detail in a way that we have not experienced in some time. My most recent projects combine the best of handmade craftsmanship with the precision of computer aided design. It’s a new frontier.

Name five key themes to consider when approaching design in 2014 and beyond.

1. Emotion. How can we start with the ‘wow’ and work backwards into the design. What do you feel inside the interior?

2. Aspiration. What does the client dream of experiencing and how can we deliver that in a way that over-delivers?

3. Function. How can we design in an intuitive way that, like a fine glove makes what we do seem comfortable, almost ‘frictionless.’

4. Experiential. How do all the sensory elements play into the design from aroma, to texture, music, symbolism?

5. Eternal. How does the project wear and continue to satisfy over the long term?

And key trends that we should be aware of?


Wireless technology and its 24/7 access has caused personal space and business space to become intertwined. People pause to work non-stop and are constantly in touch at home and vice versa. There is an invisible social space around us at all times. With this reality in mind, we try and make personal spaces technically functional for business use, and business space have the warmth and amenities of home. The goal is to bring a better quality of life to this new reality.

What projects are you currently working on?

Most are secret projects for secret people, so we cannot discuss them, but I can say most recently we have been a design collaborator with inventor Danny Hillis and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, on an amazing work of art, a 200 ft tall 10,000 year clock to be embedded into a mountain. It’s still under construction. We are also working with Embraer on some new leading edge aircraft concepts. Stay tuned.

If you could offer one piece of advice when it comes to design schemes, what would it be?

Lead with emotion and work backwards into finishes and colours. My family came from the film industry and when you design a set, or costume you have to know the emotion and story of that scene. Too many projects have luxury without soul or emotion. You can spend millions on finishes and then at the end it feels hollow. What a shame.

A designer’s work is so diverse – how do you manage to hold down a career and life?

Not easy. I put spirituality and family first. Everything else falls into place behind that. We cannot create spaces that make people content unless we are content ourselves. We only take on a few select projects a year and give them full attention. By choice, they are usually challenging, but still leverage our core skills. Keeping sharp is a kind of ‘hard fun.’ As a creative person, ‘burnout’ is your biggest threat and so keeping life (and your head!) in balance is critical.

How important are the International Yacht & Aviation Awards as recognition of talent and achievement?

Very. Awards can be the engine to drive innovation in a field, introduce new talent, and shake things up. Being able to measure the progress of a trade while driving it forward is very important.

What are your aims and goals for the next twelve months?

I’d like to take our cinematic process of ‘story driven’ design into yachts. It’s not enough to decorate, but rather like antiques, the soul and story of a space is what gives the client a back story to their space. It’s adding the legacy or emotion to the wealth. It’s funny that after seeing Skyacht One, I get asked if I’d want to do a boat. Why of course. We have quite a bit of high end real estate booked for this year, but I want to consider more aircraft and yacht projects because I think we could do something incredibly unique for the right client.


Final thoughts; tell us a little more about yourself…

The car you drive?

Porsche 911. It simply extends your mood onto the road and vice versa. Very experiential and a fun diversion.

Your favourite place to travel to in the world?

That’s tough. I’m sure it’s still out there. Paris is kind of a second home, although the South of France and warmer climates attract me the most.

Your favourite hotel/restaurant/bar?

Hotel Du Cap Eden Roc in Antibes. It embraces one of the most beautiful spots in the world and the fact that it still has a casual feel where you can dine on the lawn.

Cafe Florian in Venice. The emotion of Italy all coming together. The live music, the waiters in white, the square, the sense of being a part of the same thing going on for 400 years and it still works. A quintessential experience.

Musso Frank Bar & Grill in Hollywood. It’s not about the drinks, like a fine antique, it’s all about the story. Great bartenders like Ernie telling you about how he was asked to kick a soused Orson Welles out and lacked the heart to do it. To hear him tell it, Welles teared up. He had me tearing too! Chaplin used to hang out here and so did Walt Disney. Give me the history, I can get a Mojito anywhere.

The place that gives you the most energy?

Strangely enough, the backlot of 20th Century Fox Studios. It was where I first got inspired about story driven deisgn as a 10 year old. I still get that rush of ‘faux magic’ walking what’s left of New York Street.

And the place that enables you to totally relax?

I tend to look for quiet ‘escapes,’ but need them to be close by. I used to have a Santa Monica office and walk the beach to collect my thoughts or have new ones. In a creatively driven firm, it’s nice to have the 4th wall of your office to be something that’s infinite, a blue horizon with a white noise soundtrack.

Your favourite food and drink?

I like to experience culturally authentic food wherever I am. It’s good to know what something should taste like as regional ingredients make a difference. To that end, I had the opportunity to design an LA Restaurant with a very authentic and culturally progressive chef, John Rivera Sadlar. It was challenging to ‘channel’ his modern sensibility into a unique dining experience where we had create an interior and even video art installation that reflected his highly graphic cuisine as a seamless extension of the food. So, in a way, I really enjoy that type of experience where the restaurant ambience is driven by and compliments what is being served. That’s what experiential design is about.

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