CRTKL Announces Two New Strategic Retail Hires

Global architecture, planning and design firm, CRTKL, has announced the appointment of Robin Osler and John Naranjo as Principal and Associate Principal respectively. The pair are part of the firm’s wider strategy to expand its design influence beyond architecture as we know it and bolster its multi-disciplinary team with complementary services and creatives.

“From the climate crisis to urbanization, the issues we face are growing in complexity and so too must our industry evolve. The need now is for a greater, more diverse perspective. For CRTKL, that diversity of perspective is achieved by recruiting outside of tradition and tapping into creative thinkers from more varied backgrounds who look at things differently from how a traditional architect might,” says Kim Heartwell, CEO at CRTKL.

Such is the case with Robin Osler, whose career began in fashion working for the likes of Oscar de la Renta as in-house model. Known for gracing the runways of Paris and Milan, Robin’s appreciation for craftsmanship and unique look set her apart at an early age and led her on an atypical road to architecture.

“I always had an eye for detail, and while fashion had captured it initially, the years I spent living and working in Europe turned my sights toward architecture and awoke this gene in me that I guess was there all along,” says Robin Osler, now Principal at CRTKL.

Born into a family of architects, it is little wonder Robin found herself in the profession. Her great-uncle, George Elmslie, was a prolific Prairie School architect; her grandfather, Emil Lorch, founded the architecture school at the University of Michigan (and whose work inspired Frank Lloyd Wright’s Unity Temple, among other works). Her father, David Osler, was also in the profession, as was her uncle, Roger Bailey. The latter founded the architecture school at the University of Utah and was a mentor to Charles Moore, often referred to as the father of postmodernism.

The legacy continues with Robin, who completed her master’s degree in architecture at Yale University, established her namesake practice and catapulted herself from the pages of Elle Magazine to Elle Décor. Here she found her niche as the conduit between fashion, art and architecture. Her portfolio is an eclectic mix of modeling studios, galleries, boutique residences, and major retail fitouts – including Anthropologie, Free People and Terrain.

“I am a lover of fashion and shopping. I have spent my life on both the brand and the consumer side; this, coupled with my architectural knowledge, gives me the unique ability to interpret and translate experiences into physical retail environments and think differently about the role of the store,” says Robin.

It is this diversity in thinking and a desire to offer a new perspective on retail design that brings Robin to CRTKL.

“It is rare to see a firm of CRTKL’s scale with such an artistic and dynamic approach to design. The emphasis here is on creating an experience, evoking a feeling, knowing and caring for the people who will inherit them – all aspects of the process more commonly associated with an advertising or branding agency,” says Robin.

“The analysis and abstract thinking built into the front end of CRTKL’s projects that really excites me. There isn’t an immediate acceptance of a given brief; instead, we ask questions about long-term social and environmental impact. We drive towards the purpose of a project and reverse engineering a solution with a team that draws intelligence from in-house academics, researchers, futurists, mixed, augmented and virtual reality specialists, anthropologists and more—this is what the architecture firm of the future looks like.”

Robin and John will work alongside CRTKL’s existing leadership team to grow the firm’s creative thinking and identify new opportunities for cross-collaboration with its clients and like-minded cultural institutions. As a continuation of her role as an adjunct professor at City College of New York (CUNY), Robin will also deepen CRTKL’s internal mentorship program.

About CRTKL

CRTKL is a global architecture, planning, and design practice, that began over seven decades ago and has evolved into a cultural agency to advance positive outcomes in our communities. Focusing on People, Planet, Positive Design allows us to realize a climate-positive and equitable future; dedicated to inspiring experiences, human wellbeing, and socially responsible outcomes through research-empowered and data-driven design.

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