In a brand-new NYDC showroom, fresh modern looks emerge from a collaboration between interior designer Eric Cohler and Kindel Furniture
Interior design’s “mixmaster” Eric Cohler was tapped by Kindel to design a dramatic space that reflects the 114-year-old luxury furniture brand’s move into the future with updated colors, finishes, hardware and fabric. The result is fresh, modern and energetic, and provides an exciting new look at how traditional furniture can be relevant with how people design and live today. Here, we talk to Cohler about this new collaboration.
CTC&G: As Kindel’s new “Creative Director of Visual Merchandising,” you designed this new space. Whom were you trying to attract?
EC: I’m trying to lower the demographic. Kindel is no longer your parent’s or grandparent’s furniture. It’s totally customizable and flexible as to finish (color) and dimensions. It’s designed for the next generation. It’s not just furniture for today, it’s furniture for the day after tomorrow.
CTC&G: The showroom layout and your placement of certain pieces seems to intentionally make people think of a variety of uses. True?
EC: Absolutely. I want designers and their clients to think outside of the grid. We’re constantly evolving and reimagining ourselves, and we’d like the end user to do the same.
CTC&G:And little boutiques of the collections…
EC: My concept is that, as a parent company, Kindel has other licensees and we want to showcase and support them within our wider realm. When I was a child, my mother would take me shopping in the old Henri Bendel’s on 57th Street. The store was arranged into individual “shops” or boutiques, and this concept has stayed with me.
CTC&G: The cement floor is a youthful loft-like touch. Is that what you intended?
EC: Yes. It’s that high/low thing—a kind of refined neo-brutalist look. I based this on Marcel Breuer and the Whitney Museum’s former building on Madison Avenue. Coupling rough cement with exquisite furniture is what the Japanese refer to as “wabi sabi.”
CTC&G: You tweaked many pieces for a more modern take on a classic. How did you choose which ones to reimagine?
EC: I tweaked Kindel’s best sellers and updated sleepier classics.
CTC&G: What was your biggest challenge piece? Is it the cerused dining table?
EC: Correct. This Regency dining table is traditionally shown in mahogany with inlaid marquetry and hairy paw feet. By cerusing the oak and deleting some of the carving on the paws, we’ve brought a classic design into the 21st century. I can imagine it mixed with Mies’ Bruno chairs. Dynamite. This is not to say that the more intricate pedestal is in any way out of fashion, just that the same basic table can be made to feel younger while still being a crowd pleaser.
CTC&G: Love the silver hardware on the sideboard with the Philip Jeffries blue wallpaper behind it.
EC: The sideboard was brought forward by staining the inlays and using a matte finish on the entire piece rather than a gloss or French polish. The silver contrasts beautifully and will patina as it ages. We call this a living finish. The drawer interiors are painted red for a bit of extra verve—an exclamation point.
CTC&G: How did you come up with using indigo on the Pinwheel chest?
EC: The indigo just popped into my head, and I knew that it was perfect for this Draper piece. I feel that Dorothy would be quite pleased.
CTC&G: You showcase the Dorothy Draper pieces by using pink backgrounds and stripes. Can you tell me about that? “Think pink” was the mantra of the 1950s. EC: I was channeling Funny Face with Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire. And the stripes are classic Draper.
CTC&G: The use of the orange stool with the pink and black seems very contemporary.
EC: It simply felt right for the times—a synergistic mix of the past and present—especially in the use of a vinyl hide.
CTC&G: What’s your favorite item?
EC: My favorite piece in the showroom is the painted Federal chaise/sofa wrapped in a golden yellow waxed linen. It’s the synthesis of all that Kindel represents—superb quality with a forward-looking POV.
CTC&G: Do you own any Kindel furniture?
EC: I’m saving up for the Federal sofa.
CTC&G: Your motto is: “Mining your past to find your future.” Meaning? Meaning that the past is prologue; without a strong foundation there is no tomorrow or the day after tomorrow.
CTC&G: Can you give any hints of surprises we can expect in the future?
EC: If I told you, then there’d be no surprises in store…stay tuned.