F5: John Edelman Takes Us on a Journey, from Edelman Leather to Heller
John Edelman purchased the company of his dreams – Heller – in May 2022, serving as President and CEO while steering the future of this iconic furnishings brand. But that’s not where his story began. He spent 14 years at Edelman Leather, including six as President and CEO. John’s leadership approach was defined by his family’s principles of authenticity and “doing well by doing good.” Along with John McPhee, he re-envisioned the company. Soon after, he turned his family’s namesake brand into a global trademark by expanding into four luxury lifestyle categories – private aviation, hospitality, corporate interiors, and residential interiors – before helping facilitate the sale to Knoll, Inc. in 2007.
In 2010, John purchased Design Within Reach with McPhee. He revitalized the retailer, turning it into the world leader in authentic modern design by eliminating knockoffs, repairing vendor relationships, and re-training sales teams. Then, adding Trade and Contract divisions, expanding Product Development, and opening new DWR Studios. In 2014, Herman Miller, Inc. purchased the renewed DWR and John stayed on as CEO of both DWR and Herman Miller Consumer Group before departing in 2019.
John is highly regarded by the design community. He sits on the Chilewich Board of Directors as well as being the Executive Chairman of Crypton Fabrics. In the past, he has served on the Board of Trustees for DIFFA, and currently serves on the Board of Design Leadership Network and the Be Original Americas Board of Directors. John is also the Co-Founder of beverage brand Fourth & Pride vodka, which donates 5% of their profits to LGBTQ+ organizations, fully integrating his business acumen with lifelong advocacy work. At the end of May, 2022, he was bestowed an honorary doctorate from the New York School of Interior Design.
Today, John Edelman is joining us for Friday Five!
1. Organic Chair from Vitra
I love the Organic Chair because it’s an incredibly comfortable piece of furniture and rests in a very small footprint. It’s the only chair that was co-designed by Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen. I think the chair is under appreciated and deserves more prominence in the American marketplace.
2. The Model 2001 Weltron radio
I love this radio as it epitomizes 1970’s design. It’s futuristic, functional, and beautiful. You can actually plug it in, run it from a lighter in a car, or use batteries. It was way ahead of its time.
3. The Rolex Daytona
The Rolex Daytona is arguably one of the best timepieces ever created. It epitomizes what every sport watch should be. Every generation of the watch is a little different, but I actually love them all.
4. The Porsche 911
There are very few cars that have kept the same design language for decades. Whether you see one from the 70s, 80s, 90s, or today you know which car it is. They are all fun to use and beautiful to look at.
I grew up with Fornasetti plates and items that my parents brought back from Italy. Since then, my family has fallen in love with the charm, beauty, and consistency of the Fornasetti collections. It’s hard not to fall in love with a piece by Fornasetti and smile.