First of all it's been a few weeks since i have posted this column,,,, Thankfully people have not deserted me and I have a few now in stock so I hope to get back to being more regular.
I am so excited to post this essay today. I have not known Robert long or well, but when you meet him, you want to learn more. Being the fan that I am of the road less traveled, I appreciate the jump from Law to interior design. The ability to listen to ones self in the light of past experience is a constant battle. Also I am intrigued by people who can master the mindset of both Law and Interior Design (it's sort of like patting your head and rubbing your belly at the same time)!
Anyway I hope that you enjoy what he has to say and take a few moments to visit his website the work is spectacular!
WHY I AM AN INTERIOR DESIGNER or, in my case,
HOW I WENT FROM BEING A CORPORATE LAWYER TO AN INTERIOR DESIGNER
I like to tell people that becoming a truly passionate interior designer involves five critical elements:
1 An interest in architecture and design beginning at a very young age;
2 A focus on certain specific academic disciplines during one’s formal education – primarily the sciences, mathematics, economics and public policy – with just enough art and architecture classes to keep things “interesting”;
3 Total immersion in a “Paper Chase” law school experience – provided that all studying for classes and exams takes place in the library of the adjacent design school rather than in the law school library itself (and might as well audit an architecture class while you’re at it, since you’re already spending so much time at the design school);
4 A career as a corporate attorney at a big New York firm with great colleagues, challenging clients and an exciting, fast-paced practice; and
5 An interest in architecture and design beginning at a very young age.
(Parenthetical note in the interest of full disclosure: not everyone goes through stages 2, 3 and 4.)
I was fortunate to have been exposed to some of the best in modern design and furniture as a child. At the time, I didn’t appreciate how meaningful it would be in the development of my aesthetic sensibility to grow up in a house with Eames, Noguchi, Saarinen and George Nelson furniture – all icons of modern design with connections to the area of Michigan where I grew up. I remember paying close attention to the furniture I would encounter at friends’ homes as well as the architecture of buildings I would see as we drove around metropolitan Detroit. My childhood doodling involved designing buildings on napkins and in the margins of school notebooks.
I was blessed – or cursed – to have many interests during my formative years. My second passion came to me during high school – politics and public policy. I joined the Debate Team in high school (law school here I come?) and yes, I was also a math and science geek who wore a calculator on my belt. I found a great way to combine these interests when I studied economics in high school, so in college I pursued a degree in economics and public policy (law school here I come!).
We can travel quickly through the law school years – stage 3 of 5– which candidly was my least favorite of the five stages. What I remember well from law school was studying – lots and lots of studying. I did my studying at the design school library rather than the law school library because I found the surroundings to be more comfortable and uplifting. I appreciated how important one’s physical surroundings can be to one’s comfort and emotional state.
I had a very challenging and stimulating career in corporate law, eventually becoming a partner at one of the major New York law firms. As a corporate attorney my focus was on working closely with clients to create the legal structures for them to pursue their objectives. (Another parenthetical: “clients”, creating “structures”, pursuing client “objectives” – maybe a little foreshadowing.)
People often assume I was unhappy as a corporate lawyer. The truth? Sometimes the lifestyle was pretty rough, but I thoroughly enjoyed the analytical challenges I encountered as a lawyer, and the close relationships I developed with colleagues and clients. Being a lawyer allowed me to use the left and right sides of my brain in interesting ways. I would not trade those experiences for anything, and who I am is very much a product of these years.
But: who said you have to have one profession over the course of an entire life? When I was working on the creation of a new overseas investment fund, one of my close friends pointed out that I seemed as excited about the design and layout of the prospectus cover page as I was about the substance of the transaction. I later made the decision, after a good run as a corporate lawyer, that I would begin another chapter in my life.
I left my law firm and decided to spend some time travelling and reconnecting with myself. When I found I finally had time to focus on furnishing the apartment I had purchased a year before, I began to design a furniture piece for my living room and started shopping for other furniture. I remember a light bulb going off in my head, as I walked through a furniture showroom in San Francisco and, for the first time in my life, I seriously thought about becoming an interior designer.
After four years of college, three years of law school and the bar exam, I never imagined I would set foot in another classroom or take another exam. One degree later – thank you New York School of Interior Design for some of the most amazing and challenging academic experiences of my life – and after a terrific experience at Steven Harris Architects, I launched Robert Kaner Interior Design.
I hope you will take a look at what I’ve been up to at Robert Kaner Interior Design! www.kanerid.com.