Eric Cohler ’81, one of the country’s leading interior designers and an adjunct professor at HWS, discussed his prolific career and gave a preview of his spring 2016 Reader’s College course on interior design. The Dec. 3 lecture in Houghton House was followed by presentations by Eric Cohler Internship and Travel Award recipients Paige Davidson ’16 and Zachary Birnbaum ’16.
Dubbed the “Mixmaster” by industry magazine editors for his ability to mix traditional and classical forms with a contemporary sensitivity, Cohler has been named to the top 10 designer list in the U.S. by Elle Decor. He is also included in House Beautiful‘s “Top 100” designers issue, and has had his design and fabric selected by President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama for the White House dining room. He was also recently named as an Ambassador of Arts and Spirituality to the United Nations and served as the keynote speaker of the G20 in Seoul, South Korea.
Cohler received his bachelor’s degree in English and art with a concentration in history from Hobart, where he was a member of Kappa Alpha and was on the Dean’s List. He went on to earn a master’s degree in historic preservation from Columbia University School of Architecture and a certificate in design from Harvard Graduate School of Design.
After graduation, Cohler went on to brief stints at Ketchum Communications and Saatchi and Saatchi, two of the world’s largest public relations and communications agencies, before establishing Eric Cohler Designs in 1991. Based in New York City, Cohler works closely with clients to design and develop the space of their dreams in the United States, Europe, Asia and the Caribbean.
His aesthetic is sought after for the country’s top houses, including the Kips Bay and Hampton Designer Showhouses. His 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. He also collaborates with Armstrong and Kenmore to design appliances.
Leading domestic and international publications such as Traditional Home, Town and Country, Veranda and The New York Times, feature Cohler’s work and writing on a regular basis. He is a contributing editor to the American Art Collector and American Fine Art. Cohler has made numerous television appearances on HGTV, Fine Living, CBS, NBC, PBS and ABC’s “The View.” Sears, Kenmore and Cohler teamed up for “Country Escape,” which tied with Martha Stewart for first place in the interior design category.
The International Foodservice Distributors Association awarded Cohler with its Circle of Excellence Award and both Traditional Home and the Decoration and Design Building in New York named him Designer of the Year. His book, “Cohler on Design,” was published in 2012.
Giving back to his alma mater every year, Cohler supports an annual award to fund students interested in design and/or the arts through internship and study abroad experiences.
The lecture and dinner event is made possible by the generosity of the Termuhlen-Rauck Family Endowed Lecture Fund in Architecture, established in honor of Professor of Architecture Stan Mathews.