Current projects: Developing a new lightbulb. Planning my next video. Designing the business. And building hundreds of chandeliers.
Mission: To always ask "What if...?" To design with care. To believe in what I put out there.
One of the latest versions of Adelman's Branching Bubble chandeliers. Photo by Sam Kweskin
Above and below: Adelman's studio in New York City. All remaining photos by Lauren Coleman
When did you decide that you wanted to be a designer? I first heard about industrial design when I was 22, working for the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. I was walking through the exhibition fabrication department, and a woman was carving fake French fries out of foam. It looked like a lot more fun than my editorial job. I asked what she was—and she told me, an industrial designer. So I applied to RISD and that was that.
Education: I have a B.A. in English from Kenyon College and a B.F.A. from the Rhode Island School of Design.
First design job: I suppose it was in grade school, because I always did the programs and posters and props for all our plays, even though I did not know what design was. And of course I signed them really big.
Who is your design hero? There are many throughout history, but right now it's Nendo.
Above and below: Blowing glass and applying gold foil to an Adelman chandelier-in-progress
Describe your workspace: I don't really have one workspace. My studio is divided up into five different spaces and I visit all of them for different reasons: making, talking, meeting, reviewing and working in the quiet.
Other than the computer, what is your most important tool? I only use the computer for e-mail. My most important tool is a pencil.
What is the best part of your job? To be able to turn daydreams into something real
What is the worst part of your job? E-mail
Adelman's Curiosity Vessels are hand-blown glass bottles decorated for the theme of "Nature gone wrong."
Above and below: Horse hair and brass acorn stoppers for the Curiosity Vessels
What time do you get up and go to bed? Weekdays, I go to bed before 11 p.m. I wake up when I hear "Good Morning, Mommy!"
How do you procrastinate? With chocolate and fashion magazines like W and Love
What is your favorite productivity tip or trick? To try to get a different angle on a task and convince myself there is something fun about it
What is the most important quality in a designer? Honesty with yourself
What is the most widespread misunderstanding about design or designers? That it is a struggle
What is your most prized design possession? My wedding ring. I guess it is a design possession as my husband is also a designer; we went to RISD together. I still love the very restrained German hunk of platinum. And the restrained hunk who gave it to me.
What is exciting you in design right now? The blurred lines! Examples that come to mind include installations by Faye Toogood, and this video of Doug Aitken's house in Venice Beach.
If you could redesign anything, what would you choose? I would redesign how we help each other. Our society isn't really set up to make it easy for the "Haves" to help the "Have-nots." I think design can be a part of improving this.
What do you hope to be doing in ten years? I hope my company's support of the Robin Hood Foundation is ten times stronger. They fight poverty in New York City.
And I hope to be continuing what I am doing now: working with my hands, excited about ideas. And, of course, I expect my entire team to still be happily working here!
Lastly, who's more fun to have a drink with: architects, industrial designers, or graphic designers? If you have enough drinks, everybody is fun.
Mason Currey is a former Core77 editor and the author of Daily Rituals: How Artists Work. Previously, he was the executive editor of Print and the managing editor of Metropolis. His freelance writing has appeared in the New York Times and Slate, among other publications. He lives in Los Angeles.