Theodore Alexander now at Bloomingdales
Meet Aus-US design professional Dov Kessler, the face of Theodore Alexander in Australia / New Zealand.
Robyn Kaufman and Dov Kessler at High Point Market, April 2019
Q: Please tell us a bit about yourself. How did Dov Kessler get to be the Regional Representative for Theodore Alexander in Australia/New Zealand?
A: Hi there. My name is Dov, Australian design professional that has lived in America - with an accent to match. I love design in all its forms, travel, cultures, systems and science. For many years I worked in lighting, because I love design - but am also a nerd. Those who know me well know that I have a taste for the finer things in life, while celebrating all things esoteric and weird. I've known of and admired Theodore Alexander, so when I heard they wanted somebody locally to support the Australian and New Zealand markets I pounced on the opportunity and made contact.
Q: Having worked internationally, what are your thoughts on the Australian design industry?
A: The Australian design industry is like a young graduate - full of ambition, fresh ideas, has a voice it wants heard, and all the while still finding its feet. It follows international trends, while picking the best elements from current trends and historical movements, mixing it all up and re-contextualizing in a way that comes across as sophisticated and effortless. The biggest challenge it faces is representation; let’s be real here … we are a small market which means there can only be so many contemporaries of a look or movement to be showcased, which can be stifling to a designer’s creativity. God Bless the Internet.
Q: Does T.A. think of itself as an American brand, or more as an international brand?
A: International. Theodore Alexander is more a house than it is a brand, celebrating design disciplines and influences from the world over. At last Market (High Point) - when one of the guest designers was talking about the provenance of their designs and had one thing proto-Ottoman empire juxtaposed with another that was French Futurism, the design nerd in me had an instant crush.
Q: Please tell us about your favourite T.A. designers. Can you describe stylistic differences?
A: Depends on the day you ask me. Some days I want the Michael Berman experience of contemporary, refined Southern California Deco, other days I want the contemporary sophistication of Steve Leunge. Keno Bros. for that piece with provenance of a very specific time and place that you can narrate as if an antique dealer on Antiques Roadshow. (Which they have been on). Most recently its Alexa Hampton (she's seductive yet scary. I like that), and Richard Mishaan who designs pieces that every designer needs in their arsenal, and I need in every room of my house ...!!
Q: T.A. is a big and a diverse brand. In brief can you explain the key differences between the main T.A. sub-brands (e.g. TA Studio)
A: Theodore Alexander is a maker of fine furniture known for its eclectic offer of collections in traditional, contemporary and modern design; each collection breathes its own narrative of sophistication. Theodore Alexander is known for putting out designs that have modern context. TA Studio is a sub-brand, created as a space to play with different lifestyle concepts, and give access to a new market; with design lines focused on simplistic elegance. For instance, Theodore Alexander might have a grand piece with provenance of some past decadent era with a tessellated tropical veneer and reeded brass inlays; TA Studio might decide to echo the overall form, remove the embellishments, and offer in shagreen and polished nickel.
Q: What do you think differentiates T.A. products? What is T.A.’s unique stylistic “signature”?
A: Truly unparalleled craftsmanship and attention to detail. None of its contemporaries are able to offer the same level of make and finish to the price. Hard to say what the "signature" is as the designs are so eclectic across the board, I guess I'd have to say again the level of design detail. A lot of modern design movements were based on modern context of not needing the excess detail or bulk - unfortunately too often that can come at the cost of engineering and comfort, which is in part why TA Studio was created: to offer an interpretation without compromise to integrity of build or comfort.
Q: This may be tough, but do you have a favourite collection? Why?
A: (I would like all TA designers to know I am being forced to answer under duress, and I love you all equally in different ways...) Richard Mishaan. There are too many pieces that just work before needing curation, and there's a design discipline that speaks to me – it’s masculine yet neutered, elegant, very functionalist, all very Billy Baldwin for the 21st Century.
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