Through a bit of initiative and perseverance, John Lawrence ’12 had the opportunity to intern with Eric Cohler Design in New York, N.Y.
Taking advantage of the opportunity to speak with award-winning interior designer Eric Cohler ‘81 during an on-campus event in March, Lawrence began a dialogue with Cohler that landed in an offer from Cohler for Lawrence to intern at his design firm over the summer.
Lawrence credits the Colleges with giving him the opportunity to meet Cohler, one of the most sought-after interior designers in the country, and for inspiring his passion for design.
“Interior design is a field I was already interested in learning more about,” explains Lawrence. “Studio art and art history classes played an important role in inspiring me to learn more about my passions.”
The offer of an internship also came with an invitation to shadow Cohler at his design firm in New York City for one day last semester. “This opportunity really opened my eyes to the inner workings of the field.”
After traveling to Hungary and Romania for three weeks with Professor of Education Charles Temple, Lawrence departed for New York City to begin his internship. While there, he worked as an assistant to both Cohler and other employees at the design firm, doing a lot of the busy work including filing, running around New York City to collect fabrics and take notes and photographs on site.
Invited to work with Cohler on personal restoration projects in both Connecticut and New York, Lawrence took photographs that will be used in a book that Cohler is writing about his journey as an interior designer.
Lawrence is grateful for all he learned. “Eric Cohler helped me to prepare for my future goals and he continues to be a mentor.”
Interested in creative industries, which include restaurants, music and movies, Lawrence is currently studying abroad in Denmark, where he is taking classes on business, design and creativity. His host family in Denmark is also helping Lawrence to get a better feel for his future career plans. Both entrepreneurs, his host mother owns two businesses that work nationally and internationally; and his host father works with his brother in the U.S. on Green Wave Reality, a technical company working to make smart home appliances and phone applications. Lawrence plans to shadow at his host father’s offices.
An architectural studies major with a minor in studio art, Lawrence is an active member of Project Nur and frequently attends Chaplain Lesley Adam’s Pasta Night and the Friday night Shabbat dinner at the Abbe Center for Jewish Life.
Cohler earned his B.A. in English and art history from Hobart in 1981. He also holds a master’s degree in historic preservation from the Columbia University School of Architecture and Urban Design, and a certificate from the Harvard Graduate School of Design. He was recently named to the top 10 designer list in the U.S. by Elle Décor, and had his design and fabric selected by President and Mrs. Obama for the White House dining room.
Industry magazine editors have dubbed Cohler the “Mixmaster” for his use of contemporary materials juxtaposed with classical elements. Since establishing his firm in 1991, House Beautiful has described him as one of the 14 “best of the best” in the “next wave of designers in America,” and he is included annually in their “Top 100” issue. His aesthetic is sought after for the country’s top showhouses, including the Kips Bay and Hampton Designer Showhouses. Cohler’s work often appears in leading domestic and international periodicals, books, and design television shows. Interior design manufacturers have taken notice of Cohler’s distinctive design aesthetic, with Visual Comfort carrying his lighting designs, and Lee Jofa premiering a Cohler fabric collection in September 2006.
In 2006, Cohler established an award at HWS that provides rising seniors with the opportunity to complete a two-week summer internship at Eric Cohler Design as well as a travel stipend for a senior research project of the student’s creation.