Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What Would Mrs. Goldstein Do?

Jonathan Adler gives credit where credit is due. He has the philosophy: Worship Your Muses.
One of his earliest, was his neighbor Mrs. Goldstein. I give you this excerpt about Mrs. Goldstein that I think you'll enjoy.

By Vicki Hyman/The Star-Ledger HERE

Elaine Goldstein, whose design style influenced home decor guru Jonathan Adler, is devoted to architectural modern decor. Still evident in her Margate condo is her penchant for clean lines and bold accessories, right down to the Jonathan Adler wool pillows on her couch.Around Bridgeton, they had a word for Elaine Goldstein's design aesthetic: modren. And that's not a typo.
Jonathan and his brother Andrew messing around
on red Bertoia chairs
at Mrs. Goldstein's house
Mrs. Goldstein then, on the right

Goldstein, a Philadelphia girl with a passion for art history and a predilection for Herman Miller, animal prints and lacquer, moved kicking and screaming to that South Jersey farm town with her optometrist husband in 1958. The good folks there didn't quite know what to make of her. (She once informed her handyman that her decorator was coming down. He said, "I'll be right there, I'll put it back up.")
A red Bertoia chair
Jonathan remembered the chair at Mrs. Goldstein's
and uses it in one of his room decors today

Goldstein decoupaged the kitchen walls in New Yorker magazine covers. She used thin wire and nails to create a homage to famed illustrator Saul Steinberg on a black-lacquered bathroom door, visible from the towering picture window in her home's white brick facade. She plopped a silver hippopotamus on a coffee table and a ceramic ocelot beneath the piano, covered the sofa table in snakeskin and introduced the shag rug to Cumberland County.

"I just kind of knew what I wanted, and I would go for it," says Goldstein, who now lives with her husband, Albert, who is retired, in an oceanside aerie in Margate.

The kid who lived next door had a word for Goldstein's decor, too: fabulous.

Mrs. Goldstein now

That kid grew up to become the mod potter (and now ubiquitous home decor maven) Jonathan Adler, and the memories of this Jersey housewife's graphic, self-assured approach to interiors is part of his design DNA.
Jonathan at his Bar Mitzvah
I'm in love with him
and could be one of the fledgling
fag hags surrounding him then and now

"It was all just done with panache, and a sense of pop and a sense of fun and color," Adler says in a recent interview. "She knew me as the sort of best family friend who was just playing tennis with her son and running around and being an idiot, and who would ever think decor is lodging in a 10-year-old's brain? It was."
Jonny at the wheel

Ever flip through a shelter magazine or wander through a design boutique and puzzle over the profusion of mirrored glass, circus-tent stripes and ceramic big game? You can thank (or blame) Elaine Goldstein. Adler summed it up best in his 2005 book, "My Prescription for Anti-Depressive Living": "As born-again Christians ask themselves when confronted with a dilemma, 'What would Jesus do?' so I ask myself, 'What would Mrs. Goldstein do?'"
Putting aside his formative exposure to Goldstein's lacquer, Adler's parents were a huge influence as well. His father, Harry, was a lawyer with a passion for painting and sculpture (three of his whimsical, expressionist lithographs grace Goldstein's walls in Margate). He was a "rigorous modernist," Adler says, but their home's interiors were animated by his mother, Cynthia, who now lives in New York City. "It was full of bold colors and Marimekko textiles. It was really groovy. People were more open-minded and wacky than they are today."

Harry, Cynthia, and Jonny

I think he is fabulous," Goldstein says. "When I see lime green Chippendale chairs, I could never have those in my house. What amazes me is that he is constantly coming up with new things."
Goldstein's Margate condo is far less exuberant, particularly since a redo nine years ago displaced the tartan carpet and the red, yellow and blue "supergraphic" of swooping stripes that spanned the dining room and living room wall. But you don't need an archaeologist to unearth the bones of Adler's aesthetic.
There's the glamorous, smoky mirrored coffee table, perfectly in keeping with the "cinematic glamour" of Adler's Palm Beach chic. The ceramic horse and rider that Goldstein picked out for her trousseau has a touch of the primitive modernism seen in Adler's wall plaques.
Then there's the famous silver hippopotamus perched on a side table. You can buy a ceramic hippo etched with geometric patterns for $250 on Adler's eponymous website (and you also can buy the geometric wool pillows that grace Goldstein's sleek leather sofa, so this is definitely a two-way street).
But it's less the specific pieces and more the mindset that is her legacy. "The thing that was so great is that it was all unimpeachably chic," Adler says. "The furniture was all really brilliantly designed, but there was not an overly serious character to the house. It was a great juxtaposition of chic, with modern bits of art and ethnic, African stuff, all done with incredible panache."
"You have to trust your instincts," Goldstein shrugs. Her home in Boca Raton, the repository for many of the pieces that Adler once coveted, astonishes her Florida neighbors as much as it did her Bridgeton pals. "I know most people can't relate to it. It's so modern. I don't give a damn."
When I didn't give a damn -
My JA Living Room


Brilliant Asylum said...

I love this. Who knew a neighbor could spark an entire design revolution! Thanks Mrs. Goldstein.

Visual Vamp said...

Don't you thin everybody has a Mrs. Goldstein in their life?
I think it's great that JA really does "worship his muses".

simply seleta said...

I have JA's book and furiously read it cover to cover practically in minutes!!! I LOVE this man. LOVE!!!

And I love that last line, "when I didn't give a damn." Oh, Jonathan, let's be BFF's!!!