Thoughts from Albert Einstein…on Design?

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All too often we’re drawn to the same people and resources for design inspiration. The same taste-makers, style gurus and lifestyle experts that really have nothing new to offer…yet are promoted as having the answers aimed at solving your particular design dilemma. But do they? Really? As today’s popular pundits advise you to keep pounding and purchasing on the trend treadmill…might I suggest we look beyond the usual suspects for some creative guidance. I love to study the artistic radicals…the creative pioneers…and the inventors. Individuals whose original thinking spawned generations of copy-cats, wannabees…and occasionally a true disciple of discovery. I have always been fascinated with how they worked, solved problems and saw the world.

It has been my belief for some time, that interior design is inherently more of an inventive process, than one of pure style selection. A personal journey of discovery that requires equal time be diligently dedicated to the discussion of the nuts & bolts that hold your life and a room together…as well as a celebration of beauty as defined by the individual. A thoughtful exercise rooted in functional and clever design, layered with innovative decoration that produces spaces of substance and style. And who better to provide us with advice on invention and original thought than one of history’s greatest minds…Albert Einstein. What? Not the design guru on the top of your list…well…maybe he should be.

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While researching the origins of personal creativity in both life and design for my radio show, I stumble upon ten life lessons from Mr. Einstein that made the design light bulb over my head almost explode. So profound were these lessons that I couldn’t help but share them with you, and offer my thoughts on how they can help you build more inventive interiors. So without further introduction are Mr. Einstein’s Ten Lessons on Life…with a bit of a twist from The Design Coach.

  • Follow your curiosity– First lesson here is ALWAYS stay curious. It’s how we keep growing, exploring and refining our interiors. Without curiosity, we stop the process of discovery and asking the important questions that keep our interiors fresh and a current reflection of who we are. Without curiosity we get stale and our rooms get stuck.
  • Perseverance is priceless-Although the assembly of the unique creative mosaic that is your interior is very much a journey…it’s important for you to remember to keep moving to improve your interiors. Even if you’re not moving quickly. The final vision for your space will evolve, change and be delayed…so be patient, be planned and be true to self…NOT a style. Take that path, and your unique style will naturally emerge.

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  • Focus on the present.- All too often we focus on the things we do not have instead of making progress on our interiors where we can. In today’s makeover happy media landscape, we feel that if we can’t do it all…then it’s not at all worth doing. Nothing could be further from truth. Focus on the functional and cosmetic improvements you can make today. But be sure to start in the right order…functional design before the cosmetic carnival of decoration…and make the most of the design in your day.


  • The imagination is powerful. –Your ability to use imagination in the design and decoration of your interior is what gives your home its original signature. It’s the critical ingredient that makes it personal…so don’t bail on crafting a more creative interior. Take some risk! Stretch your thinking, and reach for ideas and resources beyond the page of a catalog, the digital idea book or your favorite “reality” TV show. Make it strange, make it crazy, make it work…but most of all make it yours.


  • Make mistakes.- This is an easy one right? Throughout our design journey, our bad design decisions pile up like a collection of lost socks in a laundry basket, or clothes in the closet. The key take away here from Mr. Einstein is to not FEAR the mistake, because they’re going to happen. They are an important part of the creative process. More importantly, be mindful that most of the mistakes in decoration can be overcome…or even returned. Not as forgiving are mistakes we make with the function involved in our design. So, never forget that even a little planning…goes a long way.
  • Live in the moment. – Your interiors are only as beautiful as their ability to help you function and enjoy your home. Style is subjective…it always will be…so be skeptical of trends. Strive to create personal interiors that help facilitate the best memories and moments possible…and remember the best interiors allow you to surround yourself with the passions and the people that make life worth living.

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  • Create value. – The best interiors are built with a sense of passion and purpose. Here’s a thought: The quality of your interior is directly affected by your approach to buying, the same way the quality of your health is affected by your diet. Stress quality over quantity. I don’t care if it’s on sale if it’s not right. If it’s an accessory or a piece of art…it should mean something to you. Never settle for place holders or costume-jewelry design.
  • Don’t be repetitive. – Variation IS the natural order. Routine can be such a positive thing, but not if it keeps your interiors from growing and evolving with your lifestyle. This is why I cannot stand design style definitions like Traditional, Eclectic, or even worse, the gutless term Transitional? Who in their right mind would want to be that?! All of your rooms do not need to have the same look and feel, provided each one is in some way an authentic reflection of you.
  • Knowledge comes from experience. – There is no substitute for experience, and knowledge, if applied correctly, sharpens and quickens your creative intuition. But you have to work at it. Train yourself by actively searching and cultivating the nourishing experiences that lead to better interiors. And just for the record, this does not happen at the furniture store…and the best things in life happen off of a digital screen. Spend more time engaged in the greatest creative experiment of all…your life.

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  • Learn the rules and then play better. – The rules of design as it relates to the “Big 6” must be respected: Function, scale, composition, color, pattern and texture. Try to really understand and study their relationships in terms of your appreciation for a finished and complete interior. Then…get in the game and start solving the puzzle! Design, decorate and don’t ever stop. The more you do, the more you’ll strengthen your creative confidence.

Well there you have it…thanks to one of my new creative coaches Albert Einstein. Some sound advice on life and design inspired by one of the world’s most brilliant minds. Known for his eccentric hair style, and not as well known for the fact that he didn’t like to wear socks. I guess you could say from head to toe…like the best interiors and people…he was a brilliant mix of both substance and personal style.


“Life is like riding a bike. To keep your balance…you need to keep moving.”

-Albert Einstein