Words with Masters

We ask a group of leading designers about their careers, their inspirations, their thoughts on the current state of design, and their advice for the generation to come.

 Joyce Romanoff | President, Maya Romanoff, and Maya’s Wife

How would you define a master of design?
A master of design fully understands the realm within which they work. Their work is constantly adapting, refining, renewing, and their work is never complete. Maya came to the world of design through the fine arts, which taught him adaptability, perfectionism, and dissatisfaction.

Who are some of the design icons that you or Maya looked up to? Who impresses you now?
Jack Lenor Larsen and Albert Hadley were both early supporters of Maya’s transition from the fine arts into the world of interior design. The strength and vision displayed in their designs will always be a huge inspiration for Maya and me. We also have developed collaborative collections with Roger Thomas and David Rockwell—both incredibly talented designers and sources of constant inspiration.

Tell us about your creative process—how do you and Maya create with your team?
We are first and foremost a collaborative team. At times we are undisciplined, but that was all by Maya’s design—he wanted to cultivate an environment that fostered a lawless sense of play. This is how all of the best ideas are generated. We are a family.

What do you see as the future of design?
The future of design is going to be led by the people that can harness the tremendous momentum that is taking place in technology. It is exciting for us, as we’ve always strived to blend cutting-edge technology with the thoughtfulness of the human hand to create a product that is truly unique. A good example is our Beadazzled Murals, which contain an image printed at an oversized scale by an enormous printer, and hand-applied glass beads, done here in our Chicago studio. The resulting product has far more character, visual interest, and elegance than digital print alone, but would not be possible without current technology.

Do you have any advice for fledgling designers?
Find what inspires you and stick to it. Also, don’t be solitary—make use of the people you have around you, be sure to ask for feedback and for help when you need it. It is a delicate balance between originality and collaboration. There is no formula that works for everyone; it is a great deal of trial, error, and hard work. And always be kind. You never know where relationships may lead.

What’s the one piece of furniture you can’t live without?
Oh, that’s an easy one—my cowhide Eames lounge. It’s a work of art!

What’s the one space that really wowed you and affected your perspectives on design?
David Rockwell’s design of the Cosmopolitan Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas really knocked my socks off. It is such an unusual and eclectic environment, from the forest of LED screens at the entrance to the multi-story chandelier.

What’s the most recent book you couldn’t put down?
It’s probably the new biography we’re releasing on Maya in 2014! It is called “Multifarious: Maya Romanoff’s Grand Canvas,” and was produced by Chicago-based CityFiles Press. We only just received our advanced copy, and it is stunning! Maya and I read a few pages every evening—it is an amazing thing to be able to be surprised by your own life story. He never ceases to surprise me, that’s for sure.

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