At Home with Jeremiah Goodman
09 . 28 . 10
Jeremiah Goodman always had a mythical air about him to me because I had never seen his photo. That was until about a month ago when I stumbled upon some photos of him taken during his work for the new Acne store in London. It was almost as if someone had pulled back the curtain on the almighty Oz. Dean Rhys Morgan read my post and dream of meeting Mr. Goodman and made my dream a reality. I can say for certain that the man behind the curtain certainly lived up to the myth!
I was a little surprised to find out that Jeremiah Goodman lived on the 18th floor of a high rise building on the edge of the Upper East Side. I took this as a good omen though since my birthday is on the 18th and once I saw the light, I could tell why he lived in this building. It’s perfect for his work which is done in a corner of the living room. You can see Jeremiah working in the mirror behind the sofa.
This is a rendering of his living room that will be for sale during the exhibition at the New York School of Interior Design. I few things have been moved including the lovely abstract painting by Busser Howell which now hangs in the bedroom.
Jeremiah grew up as one of five children born to Louis and Anna Goodman in Buffalo, New York during the Depression. It was clear from a young age that he talented artist. His family encouraged and supported his artistic gift and sent him to Lafayette High School where he continued to flourish. He won a scholarship to the Franklin School of Professional Art in New York and moved to the city at the age of 16. I joked with him that the rest as they say is history!
It was really interesting to hear Jeremiah speak about growing up during the Depression. He said that it instilled him a great work ethic and he still gets up every morning to draw and paint. He also told me that he actually gets upset if a job falls through because he likes to work. I mentioned before but I think when you have a passion for what you do, it keeps it from feeling like work. It was really clear that Jeremiah loves his work and it keeps him young.
I was able to touch the watercolor paper for the prints and the heaviness helps them look amazingly real. Jeremiah worked closely with the printer in London to achieve this level of quality.
While Jeremiah was attending classes at the Franklin School in New York, he was also attending Saturday classes at Parsons. I asked him if he was scared to be in New York that young and he said he was more scared of his aunt with whom he had to live during that time! Jeremiah has a wonderful sense of humor!
What I loved most about his apartment was the wonderful patina on all the frames and objects. They were all found on his travels around the world for work. Dean Rhys Morgan exhibits Jeremiah’s work with Dransfield & Ross at the NYIGF and it’s where I first met him. He mentioned how nice it is to see all the originals of the objects that are reproduced and on display at the gift show and I have to agree.
After school, Jeremiah was encouraged by a teacher to concentrate on renderings. He went to work for decorator Joseph Platt and later Lord & Taylor. His work also appeared in many magazines including Interior Design whose monthly covers he designed for 15 years. These covers will be on display during his exhibition at the New York School of Interior Design as well.
He began to receive commissions from interior designers such as Dorothy Draper, Eleanor Le Maire, William Pallmann, Michael Greer, and Henri Samuel. He also worked for the legendary architects I.M. Pei; Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill; and Philip Johnson. I’m always amazed at the list of people with whom he worked and later became friends. He created renderings for Babe Paley and traveled to Europe with Bonnie Cashin who created Coach. He now also has commissions from the current designer of Coach, Reed Krakoff. I saw his while I was in Jeremiah’s apartment and it was amazing.
One person who become a wonderful friend was Dorothy Rodgers. He illustrated her 1964 book My Favorite Things and also created many wonderful renderings of her home. Dorothy’s husband was the composer Richard Rogers and Jeremiah told me a story of being honored to be attending an event with them. It came up in conversation and Richard pulled him into the entry where one of his illustrations hung. He said how impressed he was of his work because Jeremiah created a painting of how he thinks about the room, not how he sees it. I couldn’t help but keep thinking during my visit how honored I was to be sitting and chatting with Jeremiah and had to tell him so. His talent is just so inspiring.
In a career that has introduced him to almost every legendary interior designer in the world, I asked if there was anyone he wanted to meet or paint for today. He replied Jacques Grange. He said he loves his work because it doesn’t look like a decorator came in and bought everything in one day. I’m not sure who out there reading can make it happen but I sure hope someone does!
His original watercolor of Beach Stairway from the France from 1949 was just sitting on a book on the dining table. Although I’m sure there were many priceless pieces in the apartment, nothing was treated as too precious.
I also loved the books that were stacked on chairs with paintings leaning behind them. It is this casual elegance that I absolutely loved about his apartment.
The walls in the living room are smoked and reflect not only the light but all the treasures in the room.
Every object on every surface was so orginal and interesting. Even the marblized book cover was beautiful.
I couldn’t help but photograph these two!
I loved this side table and lamp in the living room.
The room that really made me swoon was the cozy television room. Yes, even Jeremiah Goodman watches TV!
The mix of objects, artwork and books was magical. Magical is a word that I use to describe Jeremiah’s work and apartment so it was funny to learn that his brother was a magician! His nephew is also a magician so it seems that magic runs in the family!
I wanted to shove this portrait in my bag and run away with it but I resisted. The colored mat and gilt frame just add to its beauty.
The room and pieces in it are quite simple but all together create a very elegant space. It’s clear that Jeremiah must have learned a thing or two from all those rooms he rendered!
I think this watercolor was actually my favorite piece in the room and even more so after I was told that Jeremiah painted it when he was eleven years old!
I don’t remember the artist of this work but I love how the abstract work is juxtaposed with the antique sconces. It’s pure perfection.
There were a few pieces of artwork that had been sent out to the framer but even without them, the room looks great.
I loved checking out all the books in Jeremiah’s collection. I think it’s interesting that he has Bonnard and David LaChappelle in the same stack!
The patina on this chair was heavenly as were the knobs on the closet doors.
Here is a close up of the shell knobs on the closet doors. Now I want them too!
Dean opened the hall closet to reveal even more books. A man after my own heart!
The screen in the bedroom was a beautiful backdrop to the seating area. I was amazed at all the different styles and periods of objects, artwork and furniture. It is truly a collected apartment full of wonderful person objects that should be what we all strive to achieve with our own homes.
I really want to thank Jeremiah Goodman for opening his home to me and to my readers. As much as I love meeting artists and designers whom I admire, I love sharing them with you even more. It really was a magical afternoon and I just had to touch his hands at the end of the day so maybe some of that magic would rub off on me. Jeremiah had told me a story about a woman seated next to him at a dinner party who did that the minute she found out who was seated next to her so how could I resist. It really was inspiring and something I will cherish forever. I also owe a big thank you to Dean Rhys Morgan who arranged it all. He used to work with Isabella Blow and might just have to be my next interview subject!
Photos by Heather Clawson for Habitually Chic