Gideon Mendelson is the Founder and Creative Director of Mendelson Group, an Interior Design Team based out of Manhattan. Although Mendelson founded Mendelson Group in 2003, it seemed as though his life was had been on a trajectory toward interior design. His mother ran her own interior design company, so in turn Mendelson grew up drawing, talking about color, form and proportion; analyzing interiors magazines with his mother and traveling and visiting museums.
With a philosophy that is built around Mendelson's belief that great design can relieve stress, inspire conversation and help people create memories, Mendelson Group works to make their client's lives better, through design.
What is the most difficult part of designing in Manhattan?
The most difficult parts of designing in Manhattan are the specifics that are unique to this city. Often, service elevators and doors are tiny and we have to take that into account as we design. It's very expensive to have things fabricated on site, but sometimes the elevators and doors don't leave us a choice!
What has been your favorite design feature in a Manhattan apartment?
I really like the jewel box library that we designed in an Upper West Side apartment. It was a pass-through space that wasn't really being used - so we were able to make something really special out of nothing. It felt like "found space" once the transformation was complete.
How does your approach to design differ from other interior designers in Manhattan?
I consider myself to be very approachable. I also love to work with clients who have a range of aesthetics. I identify with and work with many different styles - modern, traditional, etc. - while many Manhattan designers may tend to focus on one specific aesthetic. I like to allow the client's feelings and how they want to live define the form and overall design of their space, which means that every space I do is truly unique to each person.
What aesthetic do you find most people are looking for nowadays in Manhattan?
Our clients come to us with different aesthetics and styles. However, most people are interested in clean, handsome, modernist design. They aren't looking to be overwhelmed with flowers, patterns, and clutter.
Where did your passion for interior design originate?
My mother was an interior designer and had her own company when I was growing up. So, from a young age, I was immersed in the industry. I grew up talking about color, form, and proportion, as well as reading interiors magazines, traveling and visiting museums with my mother. It was always a part of my life, so my passion has always been there, I just wasn’t always sure how I was going to put that passion into practice.
What do you love about designing in Manhattan?
There is so much inspiration in Manhattan. Architectural and design details abound. I find inspiration on the subway - in the way people are dressed and what they carry. And, we're lucky that a lot of beautiful things end up here in Manhattan. So, with the galleries and antique stores here, I feel like I am getting an ongoing education.
How has interior design in Manhattan changed in the last few years?
I don't know if design has changed. I think what has changed is the level of knowledge and exposure that our clients have, which has made us change or adjust our process when working with them. For example, the internet means that there are endless options for so many things. Therefore, we pitch and present in a more direct way, we act as a guide in helping them make decisions. We have to demonstrate and use our expertise more with all of the choice that exists for clients.
What is one tip you have for apartment owners looking to spice up their interiors?
I do believe that incorporating sentimental items or a special collection into a design makes a space feel unique, personal and like "home." These one-of-a-kind pieces also act as conversation starters. For example, if a client has a piece of art or furniture that a family member gave them, I love being challenged to bring it into the design. We're currently working with a client's walking stick collection. Their grandfather left them the stick collection and we're working to develop a display for them that makes them feel like a work of art.
Tell us a bit about Mendelson Group.
Our company philosophy is built on the belief that great design can relieve stress, inspire conversation, and help create memories. We like to start projects by asking the client what they want to feel in their home, rather than what color scheme or furnishings they want. This conversation informs us of what kind of family or person we are working with and helps us understand their goals for what they want to happen in their home. Our designs aren’t just about what pieces we choose and how it looks. We believe in the power of what design can do to help our clients live happier and spend more time together. We take that concept very seriously.
How did the creation of Mendelson Group come about?
It’s a rather interesting story. I graduated from Columbia University with a degree in architecture but was bouncing between jobs. I decided I needed a career change, so I enrolled at the New York School of Interior Design. While there, I met Steven Gambrel at a New Year’s Eve party and he offered to have me help out at his new and expanding business. It was just the opportunity I needed to really get my feet wet in the industry.
After a year of working with Gambrel, my mother, who was recently retired from her interior design role, received a call from a former client, asking her to decorate their new home. My mother called me and said "Oh god, I just got a call, what am I going to do?" I said "I dunno, say no if you don't want to do this". Two minutes later, I called her back. I told her I was going to quit my job and we were going to start a company together. And, we did just that. That was the start of Mendelson Group, the rest is history.