Designer Friday: As ASPIRE Exclusive Interview With Irwin Feld

This week’s #DesignerFriday is Irwin Feld. His untrained and whimsical eye has brought a consistently unique flair to his product, staying fresh and filling niche gaps in design with his showroom. In a chat with Andrew Joseph, Mr. Feld shares many nuggets of wisdom that stems from over 40 years in the biz.

This striking combination of texture, color, and pattern dress a room with a pop and a sparkle.

Andrew Joseph: How do you maintain a work/life balance?
Irwin Feld: I always allow myself to breathe, and I do that by following the 5-second rule. What we do can be exhilarating, but it can also be stressful at times. Deadlines, details, and demands can be overwhelming. About 20 years ago, my wife and I bought a house upstate where we go most weekends, religiously. Being there brings us both a sense of clarity and renewal, and with that, we can face whatever comes our way.

Andrew: Vintage or new?
Irwin: In 2003, I stuck my toe in the vintage furniture field. That choice led me to open my own gallery in Connecticut within 3 years. I specialized in Mid-Century at a time when few were even giving it a nod. In fact, I was told by my landlord that I should expect to fail miserably. In a short time, I became a top dealer; and I loved doing that, but I saw a fresh opportunity doing a custom collection. This led me back to New York and to 200 Lexington.

Andrew: Most adventurous thing you’ve done in your life?
Irwin: In 1983, at the age of 27, I was randomly fired from my position in the apparel industry and swore I would never work for anyone again. The next day, I started a business with my wife Marcy, and together, we created a fashion-jewelry and accessory collection with a $2000 loan from my father. We grew that into a huge company and became leaders in the marketplace, selling in stores nationally and internationally. I have never looked back.

Andrew: What’s the best gift you have ever received?
Irwin: In terms of a tangible item – without question, it would be a gold pocket watch my father gave me for my 40th birthday. It was something he had bought for himself years earlier because he thought it was beautiful. My mother was always responsible for purchasing gifts, but this was different. This was his legacy. The last time I saw my father in 2004, I was wearing the watch. He lit up when he saw I had it on and asked me to open it. I will never forget the smile on his face as he remarked: “it’s so beautiful”. He passed away a week later and today it is my most prized possession.

The collection in this room contains an air of whimsy that is undeniable and fresh.

Andrew: A skill you’re working on mastering?
Irwin: Andrew, this is a two-part answer. First, and on the top of my list is becoming a better listener. I have a tendency to cut people off. Not deliberately, but I do it because I tend to lose my train of thought. The other thing I am really working on is being more patient. I’ve learned that the universe holds so many gifts for us but we must be ready to receive them. And you just can’t get what you want because you think you deserve it.

Andrew: Song you can listen to on repeat?
Irwin: At the top of my list would be Don Henley’s “The Heart of the Matter.” I can recall driving up to my house alone and literally listening to it over and over through the entire two-hour journey. The focus of the song is forgiveness. A large part of my religious heritage is based on forgiveness. I have spent years learning to let things go, to not judge nor hold a grudge. Forgiveness is extremely liberating and cleanses the soul.

Andrew: What are you most excited about at this time in your life?
Irwin: I feel blessed to have an amazing family. I am excited about their futures and the direction their lives are taking. Marcy and I have helped shape three incredible men who I have complete confidence will all make the Feld name proud. On the business side, I am excited about everything I have created including our new wallcovering collection. My creativity has never been more alive and attuned to what the design industry needs now.

Andrew: If you could switch lives with someone for just one day, who would it be?
Irwin: I don’t envy anyone, but since I am 5’6”, I would like to see what the world looks like if I were 6’2”. I could finally be in the back row of a group photo.

About The Designer | With 40+ years in the design world, Irwin continues to bring fresh and new designs to his showroom at the New York Design Center. With no formal training, Irwin has had careers in fashion, accessories and home design before becoming a leading seller of Mid Century Modern furnishings and décor after opening IRWIN FELD DESIGN in Stamford Ct. in 2006. He created CF MODERN in 2013, a bespoke furniture company to fill a niche he felt was missing in the home furnishings industry and continues to add new product on a regular basis. Now in the midst of his newest venture, IRWIN FELD STUDIO, a collection of inspired wallcoverings based on necktie patterns found in black and white cinema, Irwin is showing us his most personal work. Throughout his career, Irwin has designed shirting, textiles, jewelry, and belts, then renovating schools, homes, and apartments. His innate understanding of scale, color, and composition allows him to create both unique yet practical designs.

Andrew Joseph is a regular contributing editor for ASPIRE DESIGN AND HOME magazine. See more of his work here

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