Small is Beautiful
For Robert Kleinschmidt, a bow-tied man-about-town, that meant embracing the streamlined business model of young studios.
Deborah Wilk -- Interior Design, 3/1/2011 2:17:00 PM
It's the story no designer wants to tell. "After 30 years, I never thought I would close my firm," Robert Kleinschmidt says about ending his run at Powell/Kleinschmidt. But the tough economy, epitomized by lack of payment from two large projects in the United Arab Emirates, caused him and his fellow Interior Design Hall of Fame member Donald Powell to start the next, separate chapter of their lives. For Kleinschmidt, a bow-tied man-about-town, that meant embracing the streamlined business model of young studios. His RDK Design seeks out small residential renovations with equally small budgets. Instead of employees, he works with consultants, some of whom used to be on payroll. These semi-colleagues "fill all the disciplines needed for a first-quality firm," he says.
RDK's first paid commission couldn't have been more perfect: a Toronto couple's 1,800-square-foot apartment in Naples, Florida, completed with David Zeunert & Associates as architect of record. Custom items were rarely specified; mainstream retail played a part. "I've tried to reinvent myself while staying true to my roots-classic Knoll mixed with Crate & Barrel and even Home Depot," he says. "My life is changing in a beautiful way." That's 30 years of wisdom being put into practice.