Celebrating Women’s History: Honoring Sallie Rowland

Women’s History Month highlights the contributions of women to events in history and society. This year, we’re celebrating Sallie Rowland, founder of Rowland Design (now Luminaut’s Indianapolis office) and highlighting just some of the ways she has blazed new trails and continues to inspire others.

Sallie launched Rowland Design in 1968 after working for 10 years selling office furniture.

“I started the business in a new field: commercial design,” Sallie said. “Until that point, interior design was mostly limited to residential projects, provided by designers who worked for furniture or department stores. I felt that rather than being a designer who sells furniture, it was possible to sell good design. In a lot of cases, people think of the interior designer as a decorator—someone who picks paint color and furniture. But interior design has to do with the function of the space, not just aesthetics. That’s the basis on which I formed the business—to sell ideas and design, rather than products. And it has grown ever since, with intriguing projects and a talented team.”

Sallie noted that when started Rowland Design, there was little opportunity for women in business.

“Without the support of my husband and family, it wouldn’t have been possible,” she said.

Sallie’s involvement in the community started when she became president of the Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission.

“We saved the Circle Theatre and Union Station, and we designated historic districts that have become the nucleus for downtown residential growth and design,” Sallie said. “The historic preservation movement isn’t just about saving individual buildings but saving neighborhoods. It makes a big difference, and you can see it downtown Indianapolis today.”

Her leadership in IHPC and success as a small business owner led to Sallie being invited to serve the boards of multiple corporations.

Throughout her career, Sallie has been recognized for her innovations in interior design and entrepreneurship, commitment to historic preservation, and leadership in the community. And she has inspired many along the way, including her son, Eric Rowland, AIA, LEED-AP, principal of Luminaut.

“It’s gratifying to see so many great women in the Indianapolis business community now and humbling to have so many of them tell me what an inspiration my mom was for their careers,” Eric said.

“Sallie taught me so much over the years and is an amazing mentor. I will always be inspired by her design skill, her intellect, and her fabulous personality.”

Sarah Schwartzkopf, RID, Principal Emeritus at Luminaut

We thank Sallie Rowland for blazing trails and inspiring many with her innovations in interior design and entrepreneurship, commitment to historic preservation, and leadership.

For more about Sallie and the impact she’s made on her community and industry, visit the below online articles and resources: