25 March 2009

playing it forward, decorator style

well, m21 is sure if you visit here, then you probably already visit my friend heather over at habitually chic, but if you don't, be sure to visit this post, recapping her recent conversation with design legend, albert hadley- a seriously big "get" for a design blogger, as there probably is no bigger living luminary in the design world than mr. hadley.

and now, because m21 has never met a subject he couldn't twist back around to himself, here's his own (tenuous & once removed) connection with mr. hadley:

when m21 was a wee 'lil designer-to-be, still going to school and still making foamcore models and hot-gluing fabric to presentation boards (both things he has NEVER done since he was a student, btw), he decided to get an internship, and through a good friend, scored a meeting with a big deal decorator from new york, who was establishing a practice here in los angeles.

to save said decorator embarrassment from having his projects associated with moi, m21 is not going to use his real name, but maison21 will say he was incredibly fortunate to have had the internship, and to have had "mr. NY decorator" as a design mentor. mr. NY decorator was, and is, extremely talented and tasteful, and raised maison21's game in a way schooling never could have. he always listened to m21's opinions- how ever ill-formed and immature- and also always answered any questions m21 had, never talking down to him, patiently explaining what the hell eglomise was, and that a gimp was not a non-PC word for a handicapped person, but a tape used in upholstery...
a powder room, maison21 helped design when working for mr. NY decorator- the custom sink is a solid block of marble, hand-carved in italy and shipped over at no small expense. m21 couldn't be prouder of the way the sink turned out, than if he carved it himself.

mr. NY decorator also said that he would try to give maison21 interesting tasks that m21 could both learn from and enjoy- in addition to the tedious schlep work that interns normally do- filing, returning samples, running errands, etc. he wanted to do this because mr. NY decorator said that was how he learned, and well, we're sure you can guess from the beginning of this post where mr. NY decorator got his start: working at the offices of mr. hadley.

back then, maison21 was both ignorant and cocky- he didn't really know who albert hadley was, and probably didn't care much either, and he certainly didn't realize how lucky he was to have a mentor who worked for such a design legend. if m21 were able to go back, he wouldn't be so stupid and he'd ask mr. NY decorator to tell him in great detail everything mr. hadley ever told him. as it is, maison21 remembers that mr. NY decorator always spoke of mr. hadley with nothing but the highest respect and praise, and the words "gentleman" and "extremely gracious" were often used. reading how nice mr. hadley was to habitually chic, and grant gibson during their meeting, and how freely he credited those working with him, made maison21 realize that perhaps even in his ignorance, he did learn much from mr. hadley, simply by having a mentor who followed mr. hadley's example of working in such a generous and gracious fashion.

so thank you, mr. hadley, and an even bigger thank you to mr. NY decorator for giving m21 such a great introduction to the business. maison21 promises to uphold the tradition and play it forward when it's his turn...

5 comments:

Suzy said...

So well said! How lucky you were to work for someone who learnt from the best. I wish there were more people in our profession that paid it forward...

Jill said...

Mentors are so important. Lovely story, lovely powder room, and "gimp" always reminds me of Pulp Fiction. My mind is typically in the gutter.

Linda Merrill said...

What a great tribute to the power of "mentorship" in our industry! Bravo!

Plus, always fun to be able to take someone elses story and turn it around to be about ourselves - so bravo for that as well!

katiedid said...

A good lesson for us all! I have had gracious mentors myself and appreciate the generous support over the years. I need to remember that as I am moving forward with my new business. You got pretty lucky here!

maison21 said...

gald you enjoyed my hijacking of chic's story!

i think the very nature of our industry sometimes makes mentoring difficult to happen, as so often we are one man/woman shows, and sharing the spotlight, or passing on our hard earned tricks and tips can feel a bit threatening sometimes. but it's i think it's important to remember that everybody needs to start somewhere.