February 2017, ‘I Got It From My Mama’ By Nicole Langelier.
It is often said (with a grimace) that as we get older we turn into our parents – that we take on their mannerisms, their habits and often their style. This can definitely be said for me with my mother. We look alike, sound alike and have the same quirks but unlike most people who turn into their parents, I am proud to have turned into her.
My mother has always been and is still very much a glamorous woman. As I get older I find myself channeling her style Circa 1980. I don’t do it intentionally, however I seem to be magnetically drawn to things I saw her wear throughout the early 80’s like tassel loafers, penny loafers, chunky broaches and shoulder pads. (My mother had a meticulously organised walk in closet when I was a kid with a whole section dedicated to shoulder pads an NFL star would envy.)
The significance of my mother’s style goes beyond a wardrobe and right to the heart of who I am creatively. My mother is also an interior designer you see – so you could rightfully say that I got it from my mama. I grew up around her effervescent enthusiasm towards all things design and art – going to the design centre, museums and gallery openings from a young age – spending time with her avant-garde friends with asymmetrical hair-cuts. Her creativity was infectious. She was fast and decisive and never second guessed herself.
When I was younger I wanted to be a painter. I went to an arts high school and had a voracious appetite for all things fine art. I would stay in the studio late into the night working on painting after painting. Oil was my favourite medium – I loved the smell – the texture – the sheen – it was intoxicating. I did many self-portraits – dressing up – or stripping down and posing in front of a mirror, brush in hand.
When I moved to NY at 18 to go to Parsons School of Design I had every intention of majoring in painting, however, after the foundation year (where everyone takes the same classes), my father’s practicality took over and the words ‘starving artist’ began to echo loudly in my head. I decided to master in furniture design because, as I saw it, furniture and lighting was functional sculpture and I could always pick up a brush and paint again (which I still plan to do one day).
I thrived in furniture for a while, licensing my ‘easyrider’ line of seating to an Italian brand, receiving press in Wallpaper and other international publications, being selected by Surface magazine as one of their top 10 up and comers and exhibiting my designs with them in NY and Milan alongside Karim Rashid and Yves Behar – but it wasn’t too long after graduating that I realised that ‘starving artist’ extended to designers too, not just painters. So I expanded my repertoire – adding interior design and styling for advertising to the mix.
After moving to Milan and getting my master’s degree in interior design from Domus Academy, I started ‘Quick- Fix Design’ – fast turn-around interior design using mostly the clients own things – a concept I got from my mother in fact. It was something she had been doing for her clients for years, and something I did for clients in New York as well – but in Milan I made it my career.
I didn’t see it happening really – the morphing into my mother, but now it is as clear as day. You don’t expect it to happen when you are a kid – you think you are your own person with your own dreams and then bam – just like that you turn into your parents. But like I said, I couldn’t think of better person to emulate.
My mother was my first teacher. She was my mentor and she is now my muse.