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Remembrance: Theodora Edelman and Ken Schindler

(October 2016) posted on Tue Oct 11, 2016

The hospitality design community mourns the loss of two giants.

By Mary Scoviak

The world of hospitality design, like the editorial world, is about the newest, latest, greatest ideas and materials. We get fascinated with concepts, styles and innovative twists for about six months; then move on to the next hot things. Let’s face it; we’re pretty much looking at the next hurdle before we’ve cleared the one right in front of us. And we’re all scrambling to get to fresh ideas before our competitors do.

We feed on the quicksilver shifts in our processes and end products. But, somehow, we expect the people in the design community will always be there. Last week was a sad reminder of how much we take that for granted. In a matter of days, the industry lost two icons with the passing of Theodora “Teddy” Edelman, textile designer and co-founder of Edelman Leather, and Ken Schindler, the third-generation leader of WALTERS.

Theodora “Teddy” Edelman. Photo: Courtesy of Edelman Leather

Though they were from different generations—Edelman was 88, while Schindler was 56—both of these visionaries lived lives that proved just how much of a “people business” hospitality design is. While both companies manufacture beautiful products, their collections come and go. We love the range offered for a certain season or a “wow” item that’s unveiled at a trade fair. But that get filed in the library when the next launch is revealed.

Ken Schindler with Maya Romanoff ceo Joyce Romanoff at Boutique Design Summer Forum. Photo: Courtesy of Joyce Romanoff

Edelman and Schindler didn’t just craft beautiful pieces. They also crafted hothouses for creativity and social connections that will endure far beyond their products. Both demonstrated that, at least in hospitality, family is a good thing. These weren’t simply family-run companies; they were families that included their staffs, designers and clients.

WALTERS was one of seven family-owned hospitality industry businesses profiled in the June 2013 edition of Boutique Design. In that article, Schindler summarized the company’s “secret sauce” for success thus: “Always strive to be better each day and exceed our customers’ expectations.”  When he was asked about the plusses and minuses of working en familia, he said, “Continuity and strong family values kept our company very healthy. I don’t really see any minuses.”


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