Moms in Design Interview: Alexii Friedman/Friedman Moore

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They are our Moms, Daughters, Sisters, Friends, Wives, ExWives, and Sister-Wives, and they are Interior Designers that will rock your heart and soul with their beautiful amazing life’s work.  This is going to be a fun series for all of us!  They inspire through their work, their style, and their reality.  I feel so lucky that one of my own very favorites was willing to share herself with us-first,  unhinged, and barely edited.

Alexii Friedman/Friedman Moore

Your astrological sign is:  Scorpio

(Fun fact:  also a Scorpio is her business partner, Jane Moore!  Watch out for these two, they are a fierce team!!!)

If you weren’t an Interior Designer,  you would be:  An artist.

Probably a painter or a sculptor.  This is where I started.  I’d go right back to it.

The path that led you to where you are was:  A Long, Beautiful, and Fun one so far!

I’ve always been interested in art and design.  I graduated from an amazing and unique high school with a huge arts program and that was an great outlet for me.  Our base curriculum was a blend of outdoors programs and arts.  I’m so sad that the original campus building burned in a fire, but the spirit of the school lives on.  My high school was a really important part of my foundation personally and for my career.

My next stop was Moore College of Art and Design, a small, all women school which was super empowering to me.  It was the first, and remains the only women’s college for art and design in the nation.  At that time in my own life I really wanted to concentrate on me and what I wanted to do, and you know, boys can be distracting.  So this was a good environment for me.  My first year was all fine arts based which was fantastic.  And I landed on my major of Interior Design pretty naturally.  And then sometimes, well you know, life.  A few years in, I needed to press pause, to decompress, to sort some of my own things out.

I left Moore, I worked and took random studio art classes for a year or two.  I needed some figure-it-out time; some figure-me-out time.  When I went back to Moore to finish my degree, it was great because I learned so much in that time-off and then I was just so driven to finish strong.  I gained a little age and had more of the mentality and maturity I needed to pour into my passion and feel really good about it.  Returning to finish at 22, I was just in a totally different mind set, then when I pressed pause at 20.  I knew exactly what I wanted, the bs didn’t get to me.  Going into university as a teenager is really challenging.  I needed those couple of extra years to really finish my education.

I worked for a firm in Tribeca for many years, Rees Roberts + Partners, and  Steven Harris Architects, they were one firm when I started.  Steven Harris and Lucien Rees-Roberts are partners in life and work.  They are the foundation for my design today.  I met so many great people and they were always so supportive, and they are a phenomenal company.  I still idolize their work.  They are partners in life and work and just amazingly talented people.  In addition to residential work while with them, we got to dabble in high-end retail and that was also an eye-opening experience for me.

And then came my first child, Oliver.  My firm was gracious enough to allow me to work part-time.  I didn’t want to miss Oliver and the experience of being with him.  I wanted to be home, but I didn’t want to give up my career and they were so accommodating in letting me work part-time.  Our field is demanding, even though I was part-time, I was never going to not answer my phone.  And I started to feel this all or nothing pull in both directions.  And so I left because the pull to be home with Oliver was just stronger.  Sometimes I wonder if I made the right decision.  I was loving where my career was going and the amazing people I was working with, there was no problem, it was great.  But there was just the pull to be home with Oliver.

So I left because I wanted to stay home, and soon enough, I realized I wasn’t that person either.  Or at least, that wasn’t all of me.  So I left the firm, stayed home with Oliver and took on side projects here and there, and next thing you know it was lots of side projects, and my business was born.  And now here we are, doing just amazing, challenging, beautiful projects with the most wonderful clients!

Describe your Design Style:  Clean and Classic.

I like to mix-it-up, but always to keep it super clean and classic at the same time.  It’s a balance, right?

What makes you stand out among other designers?  Good question.

I adore so many other designers, but if I had to put myself at the top of that list:  attention to detail.  I think about things, I’m always, always, always thinking through every detail.  Design has a domino effect, there are relationships in everything.  So I’m constantly thinking ahead.  It’s the transitions that need special attention. I’m very detail oriented, I want to make sure that everything is perfect.  I am never going to half-ass anything.

What was your favorite project so far?  How do I choose just one?

I’ve worked on amazing jobs past and present that are all so hard to choose from.  I got to dabble in the Barney’s remodel before I left the firm. I actually stayed on longer, in-part because I wanted to see that come to fruition.  The designs they were implementing were so cool and I wanted to be a part of that, and it was just such an amazing experience.

One of the projects that really amped-up our own business was this huge 8000 sqft, ground-up in Bridgehampton, NY.  Every single room needed to be designed from scratch.  It was an amazing project for such a young company,  as ours.  It helped that the client had an eye for design!  That’s my favorite so far because it was such a challenging project that I took on with a huge smile and we also got to do so much custom work!  If we can’t find it, we’ll make it, and we did so much of that fun and intricate work on this project.

(stay tuned on their website for photos of that project, they are coming soon!)

What was your largest challenge so far?  The Process.

The challenge doesn’t come from a project it comes from understanding personalities.  It’s one of the biggest challenges in our field, the interaction with so many people.   You aren’t always right and it’s about a collaboration and understanding to how to be a voice in a collaboration and to hear each other’s voices.  It’s taking to heart that we are a team and we’re going to rock this, it’s a challenge and you need to know how to navigate that.  It’s definitely gotten me into trouble early-on, but I’ve always learned from it.  I don’t make mistakes twice.  So it’s a new one with every challenge, and always a learning experience.

What was your biggest mistake so far?

Not measuring twice.  I measured everything.  Except for the one spot I didn’t. And then a gorgeous and custom, giant console didn’t fit into the elevator in the lower hallway, just in front of the elevator.  So we remade it for the client.  And now it sits in my dining room (the one that didn’t fit.)  And yes, it’s a constant reminder of that mistake and drives me nuts, but also keeps me honest.  Design 101.  Measure twice.

A rule you never break:  I break all the rules!

(Alexii says confidently, with a giggle. Her keeping-it-clean and classic and breaking all the rules balance comes through beautifully in all of her work!)

You’ll never see me using:  There are so many.    (long pause.)

You will never see me using…immediately in my mind I am going to all the magazine pictures where I’m like,  “this is terrible.”  I keep envisioning terrible heavy-handed thick valences, heavy pattern panels that belong in an embassy from 19 whenever and not in my residential style.  I like light and airy drapery.

Just for fun…Alexii’s Favorites:

Favorite Museum:  MOMA

OMG.  I don’t want to be cliche, do I sound cliche?  Is that an ok answer?  I just LOVE the MOMA.

(Alexii, it’s perfect.  You can’t mess with perfection.)

Favorite Style Icon:   Wearstler/Calederone

Ok so this is the thing, I think that for a style icon I totally adore Kelly Wearstler.  It’s true.  I could never dress like her but she’s so chic the way she dresses so effortlessly.  I’m so attracted to her style when she posts to Instagram.  I’m like,  who are you in torn jeans and heels and that top???  Just gorgeous, that’s who your are.  And an inspiration.

And…eye-swoon.  I swoon for  her.  She is breathtaking down-home style that I just want to mimic.  #goals.

Favorite Hostess Gift: A nice bottle of wine.

Put that right next to the MOMA for cliche, right?  My favorite is anything from Montepulciano.

(Alexii I put that right next to MOMA and file it under don’t mess with perfection.)

Favorite Cocktail: Dirty Martini

(Editor comment, there was a silent pause before almost all answers.  Not this one.)

Favorite Restaurant: Bozu – Williamsburg/Brooklyn, NY

I love that they over-pour the saki in little acrylic clear square glasses,  in a small bowl.  It’s magical.  Great sushi.  Try the tofu salad you will be converted forever!  It’s so creamy!  They strain it through a cheesecloth and it becomes this silky buttery amazingness with tomatoes and balsamic.  It’s just delicious!  I promise!

Favorite Hotel:  I don’t stay in hotels very often.
But I do love to visit them to have a drink in the bar and take them in.  They are inspiring spaces!

In Philadelphia The Palomar has an easy quick and convenient wine hour, and that helps, right?  I mean let’s just get honest, right?

The Hudson , NYC opened shortly before I was in college and it was such a hot design at that time, it was so beautiful and unique!  Now, I go just to see what the bar and lobby look like, and how they hold-up over time.  And for a drink, too, right? A year ago, we (me and Jane) went back to the Hudson (after ICFF funnily enough)  and I thought Philippe Starck just nails fun and funky and poppy and different; step out of the box and be creative.  The lighting is terrible, I mean in a flattering to your face type of way, because the lighting details are super cool. But in neon yellow-green everyone looks sick.  The rest is just perfection.

The Standard on the High Line, NYC has these gorgeous ship-like rooms with floor to ceiling windows.  While it’s very interesting and minimalist chic there’s this exhibitionist thing that’s the Standard on the Highline, if you know what I mean? (she says with an adult giggle)

Favorite Flower:  Hydrangeas, white, blue,  definitely not pink.

 

WORK HOME HOME BALANCE AND REAL LIFE REAL TALK

Your people at work:  Jane Moore and Margo Hurwitz

My partner Jane and I went to Moore together, became good friends, and always stayed in touch.  When I got busy with my side projects, she had just had her first child.  Our partnership was just super organic.  I needed her  to help manage the workload that was coming in and doing this with me enabled her to work part-time.  Eventually her son was a bit older, I couldn’t do what I was doing without her, I trust her 100%, I would give her my kids.  And so yes, now luckily we are partners!  And as my second child, Elijah is just turning one and I’m feeling above water again, Jane’s now just had a baby last month!  Balance, right?  And a partnership to be thankful for!

Maternity leave in design and when you own your own business is where you pretend to be offline, while always sending emails, and working behind the scenes every minute you can however you can manage to do it.  You just don’t show as much face.  For me,  last year, that was 5 weeks.  Jane will be back soon.  For now she’s juggling ‘pretend maternity leave’ with Baby Jane.  Jane rocks.  Period.  And so does our partnership.

(more female fun facts that fascinate this editor: Jane is Jane the Sixth, and baby Jane is Jane the Seventh.  I personally have never known women that carry through the generational naming convention and I just think it’s beautiful, sweet, amazing and empowering. And I’m happy to now personally know two that do!  Cheers to you 6 and 7!) 

My amazing and insanely organized, uber-efficient and all-business big sister Margo was transitioning out of her last business and came on board (and to our rescue) over two years ago when we really needed someone to run the business of the business so that we could focus on the design work.  We would just be screwed without her.  True story.  And I think she’s having fun?  Who would work this hard, with a smile, if they weren’t having some fun, right?  Or if they weren’t your big sister?  We’re so thankful for her.

At HOME with you are:  My husband Matt, 7 going on 17 year old Oliver, and Elijah who just turned 1.  And, 2 cats: ancient Penelope, and our new cat Trixee.

I took a few classes at temple, and a few at a community college, and anywhere I could find them really during my university gap time.  One of them was a summer ceramics class in 2004.  Matt also took that class.  We were both in other relationships, but, not even joking, we hadn’t spoken a word, and one day while putting a sculpture to dry, he looked at me and said,  “Nice piece.”  He was also just taking the class on whim, neither of us were enrolled.  What are the chances, right?  I’d spend the day on the beach and make the long drive back for the class.  He may have been part of my motivation.  We didn’t start dating right away.  Time went by.  Other relationships in our lives came to closure.  We stayed in touch.  And then some night out dancing with girlfriends ended in a movie type crazy high drama moment where I drove my Vino scooter to his house in the middle of the night, knocked on his door, threw my helmet on the ground (insert the dramatic hair toss) and now…14 years later, here we are:  2 kids, 2 cats, in the burbs!  Our romance was fun and free spirited, from the start, and still is.  That’s what keeps us in love-we still surprise one anothe, and surpass all measures of love.

Where you live/work:  Doylestown, PA/Greenpoint-Williamsburg Brooklyn, NY

I split time between our office in Brooklyn 2-3 days/week and my home office in Doylestown, PA.

How the heck do you do that Alexii?  That’s not a short commute.  Why Alexii, why???

At this point I schedule everything around rush hours, so the commute is more like an hour and a half/hour and forty five minutes rather than 2-3 hours.

Most of the time I schedule a full day of appointments in NY, visiting clients, pulling samples from our material library in our office, it took so long to build; it’s a treasure.  Building another one would take years.  And I need the energy of NYC.  I have the best of both worlds this way.

We’ve been taking on more Philadelphia clients, so there’s definitely a transition, but I’ve always been more NY client based and I feel like I need that.  I don’t want that to change.

I’m acclimated in my commuting routine, I kinda love it.  You know what it is?  I get to have my cake and eat it too.

I get to go to the city (she means NYC) and do my thing and have all my city feels, and I come home to serenity and family and birds chirping (in Doylestown.)  There are parts of the the city that are disgusting  that you don’t even realize until you aren’t in them.  But there’s also that energy from it that you can’t find anywhere else.  And I need that.

Matt (the hubs) has alway been a country bumpkin;  he’s laid back and relaxed.  I’m an urban girl, I love the fast pace of the city.  If I want pizza at 3 in the morning, I want pizza at 3 in the morning.  I hate that everything shuts down at 10 pm outside of the city.  Matt lived in NY for 10 years for me.  He was ready for a move, so we moved.  It’s fair.  And I get the best of both this way.

How do you balance those two:  work and home?

In one word?  Matt.  Matt, my amazing husband is how I balance that.

Work home life balance is the hardest thing.  They are the two loves of my life:  my family and my business.  Both of those I hold as such high points in what I want to do, I can’t give either up, something always has to give, I schedule around school events every time I can, so I can have some of the experience, other times I have to work, and I miss “it,” whatever “it” is.  But still,   I feel like I’m balanced.  As balanced as I can be anyway, despite all the “gosh I wish I was everywhere and not stressed.”  The,  “I wish I were more here and more there.”  We have a really good routine and a good balance, I owe that to Matt, there’s a sense of release because I trust him, indefinitely, his decisions about our kids at every turn.  If I am late, it’s no big deal to him.  And that’s a very big deal to me.

Matt is an artist, he’s a painter.  You can paint anytime, right?  No.  You can’t actually.  Not while raising two small kids.  So 90% of the time there’s a smile on his face and he’s happy as hell.  If i’m working 70 hours per week, he doesn’t get frustrated being with the kids until 8pm, he’s happy to be with them.  But maybe he does get frustrated because at those times he gets NO painting in.  Anytime we each have a long week, it takes away from our other passions.  So that’s the 10% disappointment.  For both of us.  But 90% good is not bad, right?

It’s been a journey.  We had a nanny.  Then when Oliver was 3 and a half, I had an urge that I wanted to be a full-time stay at home mom because I knew Oliver was going to start school soon, so we let the nanny go.  I stayed home with him, but I had side jobs and soon enough…the side jobs turned into a business.  And then Matt said I’ll stay home and work from here, and I said great.

Editor Insert:

In addition to being a kick-ass SAHD, Matt’s art will blow your mind.  He’s just so freaking talented.  Check-out his website and follow him on Instagram, he’ll make your day.  I promise.  Here are a few teasers:


If you pay close attention, you’ll find Matt and Alexii complementing one another in their work.  Look over the fireplace in the apartment above, behind Alexii and Jane sitting in their office and in the kitchen and dining room below!

 

So now that you are a couple of years into this arrangement, how does it feel?

There are times of jealousy. There are moments in the morning, I see Oliver and Elijah exploring, and I just want to stay and experience that but I’m on a deadline or have an appointment, and I’ll never push anything off for anything so I have to run out the door and I miss the rest of the moment, except for the tiny piece I caught.  I have to remind myself I’m lucky for those moments I do catch.  I remind myself to treasure those moments and that I’m so lucky for Matt and that he’s there for all of them.

Describe your own personal style:

I’m a very relaxed dresser.  I almost always wear black, head to toe.  Actually, let’s be real, it’s always black.  I’m usually wearing black jeans.  With a sneaker or ankle bootie.  You have accessorize well.  Always a relaxed dresser but with hair done, make-up on, and great accessories:  shoes, bag, jewelry.  That’s where I spend it.

I love and wear a lot of Madewell jewelry, my favorite bag of the moment is my black leather BAGGU tote which can be dressed up or down! Love!!!  Right now, Madewell suede ankle booties are my everyday footwear, again easy to dress up or down! I think I’m addicted to Madewell!! I also have those booties in multiple colors.  We all should!

I’m a local shopper too! I did some damage at the Brooklyn Flea in Williamsburg and Shoe Market the other weekend.  And now have a pair of Eric Michael nude mules that I can’t wait to start wearing!

Matt just gifted me the most amazing pair of black studs from a great local shop!  They are to die for.  I’m so freaking lucky.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14

How long does it take you to get ready in the morning?  Real time.

30 mins 45 mins wake-up to in the car, if i do nothing but.

If I do anything else, I need 2 hours.  Like if the kids wake up before I get out the door.

I’m a night before kind of person, pull it all out, pre-plan.  That helps.

Best piece of parenting advice?

Everyone has their moments and you can’t dwell on those things.  Let kids be kids, move on.  Let yourself be yourself.  We all get crazy at times, stress, unhappy, you think you aren’t doing something right, or everything right maybe?  There are no rules, just do your thing, be your own person, be your own family, there is no perfect.  You just need to be ok.  We all put too many pressures and rules on ourselves and we just shouldn’t.

Best piece of design advice?

Measure twice.  Make sure you are going to love it for 10 years.  Don’t sink money into design trends, don’t make decisions based on the latest hottest thing.  We all get caught up.  Strip that away.  Be true to you.  And then measure again. #lessonslearned.

Best piece of life advice?

Love and respect your loves and your partners, all of them.  Passionately.  Trust them.  Give and take.

Balance comes.

___________

Love you Lexi!   Oops.  Love you ALEXII!   (I’ve NEVER called her Alexii before this interview, but apparently that’s how she goes to the world.  To me, she’s Lexi always and forever and with love, but shush, that’s our latest TME HOME secret.)  Your work is amazing and your journey is a wonderful story!  I’m excited for your next chapters.  And you woman, are just a gem of a person.  Thank you so much for sharing so much of yourself with us-so openly.  You are truly a rule-breaking, classic, kick-ass woman.  Keep on.  xo A

*Photo credit for the Friedman/Moore Interiors to the amazing Marisa Rebecca, Redfield Photography.

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About Author

Fierce lover of momming, 3 amazing kids, blessed with the most wonderful family and friends, likes coffee black, wine dry, chocolate dark, and salt chunky, resting position is in motion, particularly where salt water and wind are involved. Moderately obsessed with home design. Feels super lucky to be a part of this community. xo

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