Contribution from Romana Mirza

Our Annual Benefit is LMNOP’s largest turnout of the year and our event on May 25th at the Milliken showroom was no exception.

LMNOP members who volunteer throughout the year to bring us relevant programming did not stop on this night as we saw familiar faces when we registered, ordered our drinks and enjoyed the wonderful food contributed by Global Furniture.

In addition to great socializing and networking this event also includes an honorary guest. This year we had the pleasure of getting to know Mark Goetz, Furniture Designer through an interview-format presentation hosted by Meena Krenek, Interiors Design Director, Associate Principal of the New York Perkins+Will office.

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Mark Goetz, industrial designer, has designed collections for the Herman Miller Collection, Geiger, Bernhardt, Nucraft, among others.  Meena began the conversation with aspirations.  “As designers we are trying to leave a mark, what is your next aspiration?” she asked.  Mark’s reply was as succinct and humble as he is.  “To design in a way that somehow benefits the health of the human body."  Mark went on to talk about the work he’s done, for over 20 years with Herman Miller’s R&D team where together they have explored new concepts that support how we work, all with the goal to achieve better, more health-positive work environments. 

Career and Personal Branding
In speaking about starting his career as a designer Mark shared his story.  He left a full-time job with a design firm to take on a $1500 project he was awarded.  At the time he thought that was an indicator of a bright and illustrious future in design.  Many in the room chuckled along with him knowing the journey can be more arduous than that amount of money can support.

When asked about his personal brand Mark was able to define it in one word: truth.  He went on to say that he aims to achieve an element of truth in all his work.  Recognizing that any given style can be very subjective, when he develops a solution to a given problem it’s like rehearsing for the final performance.  It is done again and again until, what is shared with the audience has been honed and polished. When you get beyond style and trend and seek a true solution, then once in a while the world benefits from products that transcend time, like those developed by Charles and Ray Eames.  “It is not something I regularly achieve; truth is more of my lifelong pursuit,” he added.

What we don’t know!
Mark has recently begun cooking! When he became discouraged by restaurant take-out food, it was either too salty or too mushy or too something else, he thought to himself I wonder if I can do a better job?  After meticulously following recipes and a little practice he learned that he could make the perfect dish and the unexpected outcome of that, to share it as well!

The Purity of Sharing
Meena’s well-placed prompt to tell us something about himself that we don’t know segued beautifully into a discussion on sharing.  Mark studied at Pratt Institute where he and his classmates were visited by Ray Eames, and lectured by George Nelson and Isamu Noguchi.  These great designers all passed away within two years of his attending Pratt.  What he learned from them has carried Mark throughout his career.  For example, when asked what advice he would give to a design student, George Nelson said to the class, “stay humble; there is nothing more useless than an arrogant student.”  As long as we are still learning, aren’t we students our whole life?  Mark said this idea of humility stayed with him and enabled him to continue his love for learning.

To illustrate the point of the “purity of sharing” Mark shared with us a touching story. A highly respected art historian/professor from Russia was visiting America as a dignitary during the Cold War.  He asked his host, the Director of the National Gallery in Washington, if he could travel to New York and share the fashion design sketches his sister had done in Moscow with a student currently studying Fashion Design in New York.  Through some degrees of separation Mark, who was then a 20 year old Industrial design student, was asked to join the meeting.

Mark and his friend, the young fashion student sat quietly and attentively as the important dignitary thoughtfully explained each page of his sister’s portfolio to them.  At the end of the presentation the young American fashion student said, “we thank you for this but I’m afraid there is nothing I can do to help you, I’m a mere student and have no connections.”  The dignitary replied, “you have done exactly what I have asked you to do.” When Mark and the other student looked confused, the dignitary said, “My sister created these pieces and all she wanted was someone studying fashion design in New York to see them. That’s all.”

To conclude the story Mark said. “…at first, we are driven to create, then, to simply know, that someone will see it, and I’ve now shared that part of myself, is the essence of why I do what I do.”

After a brief Q&A session Mark invited anyone to reach him at contact@tzdesign.com and the event’s socializing continued into the late evening.

We want to thank everyone at the Milliken showroom for being gracious hosts that evening, Global Furniture Group for their generous sponsorship that helped provide a wonderful selection of food enjoyed throughout the event, and Sarah Corcoran from Levine Calvano who organized the delivery of the “Mark 2” chairs used during our guest presentation.


View Meena Krenek's full conversation with acclaimed furniture designer Mark Goetz

Michelle HillComment