Feb 8, 2023

Episode 103

Mark Zeff



Johannesburg-born and Australia-raised designer Mark Zeff’s life changed courses after boarding a flight bound for New York in 1982. What was intended as a short trip soon stretched to three weeks, and before Zeff knew it, Manhattan was home. Zeff spent glamorous nights at Studio 54, mingling with iconic creatives such as Andy Warhol and Anna Wintour. It wasn’t long until Zeff founded his namesake architecture and interior design firm, MARKZEFF, which is behind projects like Magnolia Bakery, Virgin Hotels Nashville, and the Kimpton Hotel Fontenot in New Orleans. As Zeff says, “Patience always prevails.”


Stacy Shoemaker Rauen: Hi, I’m here with Mark. Mark, thanks so much for joining me today. How are you?

Mark Zeff: I’m good. Nice to be here as well.

SSR: It’s good to see you. So we always start this podcast at the beginning. Where did you grow up?

MZ: I was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, and like most people back then, we all moved to Cape Town, on the ocean, one of the most beautiful places, cities in the world. And went to school and left school, and went to university. And my father said, “I think you should go abroad. I think it’s limited design education here. And I think you need to spread your wings and go abroad.” So we applied to different schools, one of which was the automotive design school in Pasadena. And I was heading in that direction, because it was either go and fight in Angola in the South African armed forces, or go to university. So to bridge the gap, I went to industrial design school in Johannesburg, which was fun. So I thought, “Okay, let me design motor cars.” And that’s why I went in that direction.

But very last minute I met a friend of my father’s son who was studying in London, and we went and had a chat and he was like, “You’ve got to come to London. It’s the best vibe over there now. It’s so amazing, blah, blah, blah, blah. Come to my school. I have a house and you can take a room.” And sounded fantastic. So off I went to London, and that’s how I landed up at university in England. I then finished school and went to Australia. Because at this time, my mother had emigrated from South Africa, like most people, to other countries. And she had gone off to Sydney, Australia. My father remained in South Africa, and I was not going back there. But I went off to seek my fortune in Australia and got there, spent a few beigey, boring years in Australia. Decided I couldn’t stay there either, and came to New York City in 1982. And, yeah.

SSR: And the rest is history. Question, did you always know you had a love for design? Is that why you headed in that direction? Or did you…?

MZ: Yeah, I have children of the age of 15 and 16, and they don’t know what they want to do. And I just find that so bizarre, because I knew exactly what I wanted to do. In fact, I begged my mother to leave high school and go and study as a graphic designer. Because at that time, that’s what… I wanted to do something in the arts. And so she was like, “Absolutely not. You’re going to finish high school, you’re going to go to university. And then you can choose whatever you want. The world is your oyster.” And she was right. And my father, God bless his soul, allowed me to go study abroad, which was amazing. And that obviously gave me lots of opportunity. And I just always knew that I wanted to do something, and it had to be a design-wordy thing.

So I wasn’t sure if it was architecture, or if it was designing motor cars, or it was designing brands, or whatever. But what’s funny is that I haven’t been hired to design a motor car yet, but I’m doing all those other things. I’m doing branding and I’m doing graphics, and I’m playing with that whole field, and I’m obviously doing interiors and architecture. So I think I made the right choice, which is hard these days, watching my daughters squirm around and not know what they want to do. And that we’re thinking of universities and things, and it’s so difficult, they just don’t know what they want. And I don’t understand that.

SSR: So you moved to New York in 1982?

MZ: Yes.

SSR: What did you do?

MZ: I went to Studio 54 the same night I arrived in Manhattan. How’s that? I got off the plane and landed up in… I said to the taxi driver, I need a hotel, because I didn’t know what I was doing. I was just literally coming to visit somebody. I’d met this lovely girl in Australia and was running after her a little bit. And I arrived and she said, “You cannot stay with me.” I said, “Fine, that’s okay. I’m coming for two weeks. I’ll figure it out.” But in the back of my mind, I wasn’t coming for two weeks because I had two huge suitcases, one filled with light fixtures that I had designed and built, and the other had clothing. And that day I arrived, and the taxi driver said, “Well, the Park Meridian has just opened today, and they’re offering, if you buy one night, you get the whole weekend free.”

I said, “All right, let’s do that. So off I went to 57th Street and he dropped me at this tony hotel, and I was feeling at the top of the world.” And then I went for a walk up Madison Avenue because I had a friend who owned the shop at that time. And I passed all these people I had been always reading about in Interview Magazine, there was Calvin Klein, there was Lauren Hutton. It was like, “This place is for me.” Not only that, there was a $20 bill lining on the side of the street, which I was like, “This is perfect.” And I met these two people in the shop and they invited me out that night. And it was the most amazing three weeks I’ve had, because it went from one week to two weeks to three weeks. And eventually I ran out of money, and I decided I’m not going back to Australia.

“This is crazy. Look what I’m doing here. Look what’s going on here. It’s 82.” It was like amazing. Nightclubs and restaurants and people, and New York was so welcoming and so crazy all at the same time. And I went downstairs and found a magazine, not yours, somebody else’s. I don’t think your magazine was alive at that point. And found a couple of design firms and applied for a job, and got a call. Now we didn’t have cell phones back then, so you were sitting by the phone all day waiting for a call.

Because I called them and they said I need an interview. And they said, “We’ll call you back in a few hours.” I got an interview with Ken Walker, I got the job, and I started working on Monday. I couldn’t believe it. I was in New York. I was working for a reputable company, doing incredible… I was working for their department store clients. I think my first project was in Chicago. And then he and I became friends, and he invited me to join his… Ken Walker had started to franchise his name on product. So he heard that I had done industrial design, and invited me onto this little cell within the company. And it was a bunch of designers. And we did a chair for Burdock, which is no longer in business. We did a lighting collection for Lighter Lea, that I think is also not in business.

We did a few things here and there, but it was an amazing time. It was in the ’80s. And then I went off to work for Robert Gerson and Associates. He actually lost a lot of work during the time that I was there. And eventually, it was a funny story, he said, “Listen, I fired almost 200 people and I’ve kept you on, but I’ve got to let you go now. You don’t have a permit. And I’m firing people who have work permits, and we’ve been hiding you in the background. We’ve got to let you go now. Is there anything that I can do for you?” I said, “Well Ken, you’re actually sponsoring me for a green card, and I would be indebted to you if you could continue sponsoring me.” And he said, “Done. No problem. We’ll take care of that.”

So I got my green card through him, and we’re still friends. He’s such a nice man. I then went off to work with a very grumpy designer called Robert Gerson, who was; I can say that because he’s passed on, and he was the grumpiest person I have ever met in my life. And I lasted about six, eight months. I was doing the switching system for the NASA space program. So we were designing the buttons and the letters and the typefacing, and it was just one of those really not very inspiring projects. And he asked me, “Can you design me a dishwasher?” And I said, “Sure.” And I went home and I worked all weekend, and I came back and I showed him my work, and I had designed a washing machine instead. He said, “Why did you do that? I asked you to do a dishwasher.” I said, “You know what? I completely… I’m really so sorry. I made a mistake.”

And we got into this big fight and I said, “You know what? I don’t think this is going to work out.” So off I went, and I actually opened my company. Because at that time, I had made all these friends and some of them had hired me to do work on their homes. And one of the projects was designing a new eyeglass showroom for a company called Shady Characters.

SSR: That’s a great name.

MZ: And these were the two people, Stephen and Linda, were the two people that I met the first day, and they introduced me to Studio 54. And I’m still friends with them. And I’ve designed all their homes, including the one in Manhattan, one in Miami, and one out here in the Hampton. So we’ve been great friends for 43 years now.

Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas

The Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas in California; photo by Eric Laignel

SSR: That is amazing. What was that first night at Studio 54 like?

MZ: So these people invited me to a party. They were staying at the Turtle Bay Towers. Now, Turtle Bay Towers, at the time, was a loft building on 45th Street between 1st and York. And it was a building filled with trust funders, Egon von Fürstenberg was there, Diane von Fürstenberg was there. It was crazy, this building. It had all these fun people in it, and they didn’t live there, but their best friend lived there. And she invited me to this party. They said, “Come to a party tonight, and then we’ll go off to Studio.” And I said, “What do I wear?” Because everything I had seen about Studio was Interview Magazine. Because at that time, Interview Magazine was the thing. It was like the coolest mag, with the coolest people, and the fashion, and the whole thing

So everybody was running around in tuxedo. I said, “I don’t have a tuxedo.” They said, “Nah, that’s bullshit. You don’t need a tuxedo. Just come as you are.” So I went to this party and it was full of wonderful people. And I was met at the door by Linda, and she said, “Open your mouth and take a drink of this.” And the rest of the night, I don’t know, I just landed up in a limousine, because it was all about that then, and off we went, 10 of us, off we went to Studio. And I don’t know what it was, but it was like the most spectacular place. It wasn’t like anything I have ever experienced ever since, because it had this mix of eclectic people everywhere. I mean, there were young people, old people mixing together.

You could see a shipping magnet and a Dower from Venice sitting next to a beautiful boy in his bathing suit. It was so incredible. And I loved nightclubs. I think nightclubs are a fantastic phenomenon. The music, everything, the whole energy of it. And this had energy on steroids, this was like a spaceship charging at 40,000 miles at a second up to wherever. And I just felt like this city was the most extraordinary place, because of this.

SSR: Right. It’s crazy-

MZ: And as a result of that night, it changed my life. It’s like the guy behind me here on the wall, David Bowie, changed my life in the same way. Experiencing things like that, and being immersed in that environment, and just seeing these people. It was about the people, I think, having fun, really, no aggression. Most everybody was high. Everybody was drinking and doing, it was just spectacular. It was just, the reality of it was even better than the whole thing in your head, the fantasy level that you have about an iconic place like that or an iconic space like that.

And I ended up going back there quite a lot, amongst other nightclubs. I think I spent the whole three weeks of my holiday in a nightclub, and woke up three weeks later and said, “I’ve got to get back to work. This is crazy.” I called somebody in Australia and said, “You know what? I’m not coming back. Take all my stuff. I’ll call my mother, she’ll pick it up.” And my mother stored my stuff in her garage for, I don’t know how many years, and eventually threw it out. And I never went back to Australia. I think I’ve been back to Australia maybe four times, under duress.

SSR: You forced to be there?

MZ: Yeah.

SSR: Was David Bowie an inspiration just from his music or did you have…?

MZ: Yeah, no. I lived with my mother, and then I decided at a certain point I wanted to live with my father. Because I hadn’t lived with my father, growing up. So I went to live with my father in Johannesburg. And at the time that I was living there, he was asked by his sister to look after his niece, who was very naughty. And Lynn had just come back from London and she was a rock and roll groupie girl. And she was crazy. And she was a Led Zeppelin groupie. And she had gone to the Spiders of Mars concert, David Bowie. And she brought back the record.

And we went home and she played this record. And I had been listening to other stuff. Now South Africa was a very strange country at that time because it had a very strict system. And in some cases they would let a record through, but the government would scratch out the third song because it was rude, or it talked about something they didn’t want people to hear about. So you would sometimes buy a record, like a Steely Dan record, and the third song, I don’t know what it was called, was scratched out. Or certain music you just couldn’t find, like Hair, the Hair concert, you couldn’t get it. And so they was banned. I mean, how ridiculous is that?

Anyway, so I listened to David Bowie and it literally changed my life. So everything that he was singing about, the whole tonality of the music, and she told me all about this concert. So I had that in my life. And I proceeded to listen to the record. I was on holiday, it was the school holidays. I listened to that record about 50 times a day. And my father eventually said, “Listen, if you don’t stop playing this record, I’m going to move you into the garage, or I’m going to break this thing over your head. I cannot bear to hear David Bowie anymore.” Anyway, so we all got in the car and we drove down to Cape Town, because that’s what people did in Johannesburg. They would, in the summer, go to Cape Town for a month or two. And he had a beautiful American, a Lincoln Continental or something, and we all got in the car and drove down to Cape Town.

And we got to Cape Town, we unpacked the suitcase, because we were going to play the record. It had warped in the hundred degrees sun as we drove through the desert. So we got there, and we lost the record. And to get another one took months. And then he became like this icon for me, and I’ve been following him all his life. He was extremely creative. And what I love about him is, he’s super intelligent. He’s able to do lots of different things. He was able to do, and change, and morph and go through all this turmoil in his life,, and come out the other side and be successful still. And I just thought that was spectacular for a human being to do in this field, especially music.

SSR: Amazing. I love that. Okay, so you opened your own business, 1985, right?

MZ: Yeah.

Canopy by Hilton San Antonio Riverwalk

The Canopy by Hilton San Antonio Riverwalk in Texas; photo by Eric Laignel

SSR: So you were helping some people, you were doing the retail. Where did you go from that? I think you started in residential, right?

MZ: Yeah. I had studied architecture in London, and didn’t have a license for this country, so the only avenue I could go into was really interiors. And I think that for many, many years, that’s what I did. And they were very good years. I had a very, very strange stratospheric career at that. I don’t know why. I mean I was unknown. And that’s what’s so beautiful about New York City and this country, is that if you have talent or you have the ability to sell your services in a certain way, and have the gift of the gab and socialize, they give you a chance. And so I had a really nice career. I mean, Anna Wintour at that time, discovered me. And she had created HG Magazine, which was House and Garden at the time. She rebranded it. She went from New York Magazine… She found my lamps, that’s what it is.

She was a friend of Andy Warhol. And I had taken my lamps to Andy Warhol and asked him to put my lamps in his Interview magazine, which he didn’t do. But I think the lamps were sitting around in his place, and she went to visit and said, “What’s that?” And she contacted me. And my first publicity ever was Anna Wintour in the Product Page, in New York Magazine. And then she became the editor of House and Garden and created the Clean Team. And there were Patrick Naggar, Jed Johnson, Andy’s partner at the time, Steve, there were like six of us. And she did this crazy thing, and we went on tour like a rock band. And we went all over the country talking about ourselves, and what we were doing, and why we were doing it. And we were called the Clean Team.

And I think that in itself gave me some credibility. And I had a lot of work as a result. And then, I believe in 2002 or 2003, some friends of mine opened the Red Cat restaurant on 23rd and 10th, which at that time was a desert. There was nobody there. And they gave me very little money to do what I had to do, and I did what I had to do. And I think it just closed a couple of years ago. It’s now another brand that they have. Anyway, that got me into the cold commercial world. And that got me going. And that also was an enlightenment, because I realized, “Oh, I love this, because I can build something amazing for people in the entertainment spectrum of the world.” It wasn’t just Mr. And Mrs. Home, here and there. And it was a whole different way of working, and a whole different way of coming into all these worlds, and dealing with different kinds of people.

And what I love about this business the most, are the people that I come across and work for, or work with. And so that has always been the reason I stay at it, and I hope I can stay at it for many years to come. But it’s really about the people. And I think that lately the projects that I am working on and getting, are all about that as well. It’s a whole different group of people. And so I think as I evolve as a person, I then am attracted to a different kind of person, I think. Because the people that I’m working with and collaborating with are very different from the people that I was working with three or four, five years ago, which is very interesting. I mean, I still have loyalty. I’m very loyal. So I have clients that are reoccurring all the time, but it’s always inspirational.

And also if you work for new people, asking you to do new things, you get, as a designer, as a creative person, to do new things. And that’s super important to me. I have the patience of a gnat. I mean, I don’t even think a gnat, half a gnat. So for me to get on with other things, and to be challenged that way, like when I was asked to design the Hard Rock Hotel. I’d never designed… I’d spent 20 minutes in Vegas. I hated Vegas. I hate gambling. Why would you throw your money away? You’d better go out and buy a Mercedes-Benz for the amount of money that you could lose if you were that kind of a gambler. So it’s like when I got that project, which was exciting, it was completely foreign universe for me, and I thrive on that.

The more out there you… The more diverse you throw at me, the better it is. I don’t want to be doing the same thing over and over and over again. And in terms of working for Hilton and doing these Canopy hotels, which I like to do, I’ve actually started to reinvent what that looks like, for myself. Because I’m now pushing the envelope and wanting to do more exciting and more interesting Canopies. And I think Hilton loves that, because they’re seeing a whole new Canopy, or two, or three, coming down. I’m not saying that it’s only because of me, but I think I love pushing the envelope. It’s because I’m impatient, I want to do something else. I want to just try something else. And sometimes people say, “That’s why we hired you. Go for it. Do it.” So for me, that’s why I love my business so much. Why I love what I do so much.

Peacock Room bar at Kimpton Hotel Fontenot in New Orleans

The Peacock Room bar at Kimpton Hotel Fontenot in New Orleans; photo by Sara Essex Bradley

SSR: So you talked about Hard Rock and Canopies. Has there been another project in the hospitality space that has stuck out to you over the last, call it 20 years, that helped really define what your firm is? Or who you wanted to be as a designer?

MZ: Yeah. I would say without a doubt that the little hotel on 46th Street that I designed, oh my God, I think it was 2004, 2005, was the Night Hotel. Yeah, the black and white. It was supposed to be all black, but the client was like, “You can’t do that, Mark.” So I said, “All right, I’ll put in a little bit of white.” And that hotel was a pivotal moment for me as well, because the client was one of those clients that really didn’t look at the detail that much. So he said, “Just go and do, and I trust you. Stay in budget and just build a nice place.” And it was an inspirational project, and I put my heart and soul into it just because he said, “Do whatever you want.” So we did. And I think we built the hotel in less than six months. We renovated this building in less than six months. It was fantastic. So that I think was one of the defining moments in my hotel career.

SSR: I remember it like it was yesterday when you gave me a tour, and just remember walking in and being like, “Wow.” No one had done that in a hotel, in that way. And just the moves and the strokes of the color and how it encapsulated you. It was really interesting.

MZ: Yeah, I mean, look, in this field, it’s almost like you have these peaks and valleys of creativity. And it really requires everybody on the team wanting that. And that’s because of commerce, and because of investment and return on investment, and all of the business side of all of that, it doesn’t come along that often anymore where somebody says, “You know what? Just do and go.” I’ve got one now.

SSR: Oh, good.

MZ: And yeah, I’ve got a few actually now, which is what I meant earlier by the shifting in why people hire me. And what I’m doing in my life now, and not living in the city, and not going to nightclubs, and not doing that, but doing other things that I think are much more important, bringing up a family and doing all that important stuff. And I think that my work has changed, definitely has changed. And I’m not taking as many chances as I used to. But when somebody goes, “Wait a minute, I want you to take a chance.” You go, “Oh, great. That muscle I know. I know that muscle.” So I’m doing a couple of those now and its re-energized me, quite honestly. And I’m very happy to be doing these particular projects, and I’m very sure they’re going to be just as pivotal for me in my career as some of those other projects were. So we’ll see.

SSR: Is there one you can talk about or are they still…?

MZ: One is a project in Mexico. In fact, I’ve teamed up with this very creative architect out of Mexico City. And we’re doing six projects right now, together. Some are residential, meaning multi-family, three condominiums and a rental building in Monterey and Punta Mita. And we’re working with a very innovative developer who’s allowing us to do stuff. And these guys are Javier, it’s JSA, and Javier is a concrete master. And I didn’t know how much I loved concrete until I started work… I mean, I love concrete, but this guy is really in love with concrete. And so with the two of us are now, his partner in the business is a German, so it’s Benedict, Javier and myself. And we’re doing a beautiful hotel project in Cabo. And we met on an Alila project in Cabo, which is about to start again. But we’re working on this new; you know the Cape Hotel, the Thompson, well, the owners are building the sister next door, and we’ve lovingly branded it after my favorite place in the world, Cape Point.

So we’ve got the Cape on one side and we’ve got the Point on the other side. And the three of us, and Stacy, we’re about to start construction on this extraordinary hotel. I think that hotel will break the mold in terms of hospitality, in terms of size of room, amenity, confluences, water. We’re actually, I think, for the first time in my hotel career, we’re actually working on sustainable water systems that are going to be part, not… They won’t be buried, you’ll see it. And Javier is a vegan, 24 kilometer day runner, crazy sustainable hippie. So he’s taught me all sorts of wonderful things about how to clean water and visually see it in the project. So we’re utilizing those new techniques. And the other one is a developer in Louisville, who is very young and has this incredible energy. And he and I are working on a couple of hotel projects in Louisville. And he’s allowed me to do architecture for him, so I’ve designed this new building in concrete, which will surprise even myself. I kind of twitch my nose every day knowing that I’m doing something like that. It’s really nice.

SSR: That’s awesome. And when you say Stacy, it’s not me, Stacy, it’s your you’re head of hospitality. She’s been with you for 15, 16 years, right?

MZ: Correct. Yes. Stacy is also very talented which is nice, because she’s not very pushy and is a gentle person. And I think I’m a gentle person too. So I think we work very well together. And I’ve with the greatest of pleasure given her all the freedom she wants to do whatever she wants. So we work very well together. And Stacy’s also changed in her life. She’s really matured into a very talented designer. And I think that having a design partner or partners; and that’s what’s great about these projects with JSA, I think that is a huge… And I tell my new clients this, I’m like, “Guys, we’ve got to find… Please, let’s work with talented architects. Stop looking at the usual guys. Let’s find new talent and work together.”

Because if you look at the skyline of London, for instance, and you look at what they’ve done architecturally over the years, and you look at the skyline of Manhattan for instance, there are some beautiful buildings, but they’re not dominating. It’s like a lot of these buildings are just commercially built so that the developer can get the building up in the sky and fill it with people. And I believe very strongly that you can do that on a budget still. There are ways and means to do that these days. You don’t have to spend three times more money than you should have, because it looks beautiful or you want it to be beautiful. Anyway, my point is that almost the most important conversation that I’m having these days is, Let’s team up with good people, with talented, great design people, whoever they are.”

Because I think collaboration is super important in this industry. And magazines and organizations like yourself, are helping to collaborate. And as a treasure hunter, I’m always looking to see what’s new and what’s available, and what different types of product, and different types of material, and proven product, that is out there. And I think innovation, innovative people, innovative clients, is for me, super important. And I don’t get every project that I bid on. I send out, I don’t know how many answers to RFPs a year, I don’t get all of them. And it’s okay. Part of the business. And there are a group of very talented designers and architects in this country, or almost the best in the world, in a way. So you’re up against tough competition and that’s also very invigorating, to be able to know who you’re racing against. It’s good.

SSR: What do you think has been your secret to success for 30 years? Dealing with all the ups and downs that you’ve encountered just in the world, and in the US, and keeping your team inspired and keeping a team going. What do you think has been your key to success for that? And how have you also evolved as a leader from the beginning to now?

Alila Los Cabos

A rendering of the forthcoming Alila Los Cabos; courtesy of JSa & MARKZEFF

MZ: Wow. Okay. Well, thank you for saying I’m successful. I’ll take that. I think success is, I think if you are brought up to be a winner, if the DNA from your background… I mean my grandfather was very successful, both my grandfathers were very successful. My father went into the family business and kept the success going. So when you come from that, I think it’s sort of like in your psyche to be as successful, or to look at success as something that cannot be compromised. So going through recessions and losing projects and getting punched out along the way, you just get up and I just get up and keep going. I also have this strange psychological thing that happens when something bad happens to me, something doesn’t turn out the way I want it to turn out, I don’t freak, I don’t get panicky. I retreat and take a deep breath or six, and I figure out why that is. And I don’t take it personally. And so I’m able to figure out a solution.

So I look at it very militarily, and my people in my office get the speech a lot about, “This is not emotional. This is a military maneuver and we’ve got to figure out the way to fix it. We’re not going to lose anybody. We’re not going to leave anybody behind. We’re going to figure out a solution.” And I think that, and I have a wondering eye for what’s new. And for myself, as I said, I’m very impatient with myself. So I’m always looking for a project. I’ll manufacture a project even if the client doesn’t even know he is hired me, I’ll be working with him. I’ve often done that. I’ve often said, “You know what? Let me just show you what I can do.”

In the early days, that’s what I would do. And they would get this thing and they’d go, “Oh my God, that’s awesome. When can we meet with you?” So I was always out there trying to figure out a way to change the paradigm and move the ball forward. I think that success is very difficult to hold onto. It’s very easy to have success for 15 minutes, but to have success continuously is hard. And so I think because I have this wandering eye and I love what I do.

SSR: Just how you’ve evolved as a leader, from the beginning to now.

MZ: Oh, well, I’ll take that compliment too. Thank you. I think that to lead, you have to do innovative work. And I’ve taken some chances in my work career. One of the firsts was an apartment for the woman who owned Art Forum Magazine. And I had met her through Paige Powell, who was Andy Warhol’s assistant for a while. And she hired me and we did this grand apartment on the Upper West side

So Anna hired me and did the same thing. This woman was super wealthy. I’d never had a client like this. And she was beautiful and fabulous. And she had this amazing apartment on Central Park South, and said, “Do whatever you want.” So I said, “Okay.” The dining room and all the furniture I had designed myself. I said, “I don’t want to buy a thing. I want to design all the furniture.” She said, “Fantastic.” But the thing that I did that had never been done before; and this came from my schooling in England, was that I would, in my schooling, I had visited all these castles and old homes and baronial mansions in my study. And I had seen these rooms that had incredible wallpaper. Some of it was not actually paper, it was tapestry wallpaper, it was fabric. And in some cases it had become thread bear over the years, or it had just fallen off.

And they left it because they couldn’t remanufacture it, and they weren’t going to remake the room. So I said, “I want to buy Fortuny fabric at $450 a yard.” At that time, we’re talking like ’80s. “And I want to tear the fabric, I want to destroy it, and then I want to put it back up on the wall.” And that made every single magazine across the magazine world. And that’s the kind of thing that I think creates leadership, because you take a road that nobody’s taken or gone down before. And I hope I can do that more often.

Well, I hate to end this, but for the sake of time, we always end this podcast with the title of the pod. We end this podcast with a question that is the title of the podcast. So what has been your greatest lesson or lesson learned along the way? Lesson or lessons learned along the way? Sorry.

MZ: It’s the antithesis what I said before. It’s patience always prevails. It does. It does. Yeah. It always prevails. Got to be patient. That’s what I’ve learned as I get older. The gnat thing is, you got to be patient.

SSR: Yep. Well, I love it. Well, thank you so much for spending this last hour with me. I really appreciate it, and can’t wait to share this with everyone. So hope to see you soon.