The creative force behind Bernhardt Design
talks about the ultimate mentor, the joys
of whipped cream, and the dark side of Apple.
JOB DESCRIP TION
I’m the president and creative director of Bernhardt Design.
As of today, most of them are centered around getting ready for
ICFF. We have a great edition of ICFF Studio, which is in its sixth
year. It’s also the seventh year of the program we started with
Art Center College of Design, and we’re having a retrospective
featuring all the students’ work that we’ve produced. And the
last one is something that’s pretty exciting and cool: we’re
presenting a design-as-curriculum project called Tools for
Schools with 45 eighth graders who are going to be at ICFF.
“So much of our coverage is about style, interiors,
decorating. The industrial designers, the ones
creating all of our products, don’t really get the
exposure they need.”
FIRST S TEP ON A PROJEC T
It’s a random thought that turns into an idea,
and then that usually turns into a discussion
with somebody about what might be possible.
LAST STEP ON A PROJEC T
I’m not sure there really is one. I always want to
go back and do something better or different.
I guess I’m lucky there’s a calendar that prevents
that from happening most of the time.
HOW DO YOU BREAK A CREA TIVE BLOCK?
I usually go talk to somebody who isn’t close
to the situation, and that confirms the nagging
doubts I’ve been having or validates that I’m
on the right path.
I have a master’s in motion-picture marketing.
As you can see, I didn’t intend to go into this
field when I was 22 years old.
That one’s easy: Anne Bernhardt. She took a
chance on me many years ago when I didn’t have
any apparent qualifications or experience, and
she has done everything in her power to help me
be successful. I’m so lucky. I don’t think everybody gets an Anne Bernhardt in their lives.
FIRST ACT AS "DESIGN CZAR"
It would be to create a venue in this country
where more people became familiar with industrial designers. We don’t have an infrastructure
to allow the individual designers to be presented
and introduced. So much of our coverage is
about style, interiors, decorating. The industrial
designers, the ones creating all of our products,
don’t really get the exposure they need.
In addition to the people I work with now, it’d
be people like Bob Weinstein, Richard Branson,
Mike Krzyzewski, Madonna, Giorgio Armani.
I really respect people who are able to do great
work and also achieve a certain level of commercial success for an extended period of time.
Well, it’s a Bernhardt Design chair, of course.
OFFICE SOUND TRACK
I’m a bit of a music addict, so it changes daily.
This week it’s Teddy Thompson and Lucia Evans.
I don’t really have one. If I had to choose things
to save in a fire, I would only take photographs.
MOST USEFUL TOOL
My address book
Financial Times, Variety, ESPN, Rotten
Tomatoes, Fast Company, Monocle
BES T PLACE TO THINK
In my car. I have sticky notes all over
CURREN T READ
I’m reading a great book right now, a novel
called Night Train to Lisbon, by Pascal Mercier.
I just got a great Muji pen.
Hôtel Costes, in Paris. Without a doubt. Even
Jacques Garcia, who designed the hotel with
Jean-Louis Costes, has tried to re-create it,
and it’s not reproducible. It’s an amazing feeling.
I eat great quantities of fake whipped cream
out of the spray can, much to my wife’s dismay.
I don’t know if they’re underrated, but I think
laughing and breathing are pretty important.
If you’ve got a sense of humor about almost
anything and you remember to just stop
and breathe—which is more difficult than
it sounds—I think everything’s OK.
Apple. I know it’s all shiny and wonderful, and
we’re all in awe, but there’s a dark side there,
from the ridiculous planned obsolescence of
their products to the way they control the music
industry, to how they control our purchased
content. I don’t think it’s all so wonderful.
Fanjoy Labrenz/courtesy Bernhardt Desgin
LEARNED THE HARD WA Y
Hire the person, not the résumé.
I would like to undo 24-hour news, if I could.
This constant, relentless blabbering. I think
it desensitizes us and makes it difficult to
prioritize what’s really important. We don’t
know if we should be interested in Libya
or Charlie Sheen.