Do you want to know the most talented artist and nicest guy EVER?! I sat down with Michael Aram yesterday at Neiman Marcus to chat about his partnership with Neiman Marcus, how it feels to be celebrating the company’s 25th Anniversary and what’s next for Michael Aram Inc. I have always been a fan of his metal/wood serving pieces that are inspired by nature. In fact, I told him that I love to give his pieces to my friends as house warming gifts because I know it will the most amazing piece in their house.
While we were looking out at the gloomy rainy day, we both laughed at his story about getting to Neiman Marcus that morning. He was getting into a car service from his hotel to have him dropped off at the side entrance of Neiman Marcus because at that time Neiman Marcus was not open yet. It was pouring down rain yesterday morning so he had his umbrella ready to pop-open when he got out of the car and run into the side door. Unfortunately, once he was inside he realized he was not at Neiman Marcus but the Apple store. Oops! Just a few more blocks Michael!
So Michael, how did all of this begin..25 years ago?
I went to a Fine Arts school in New York. I still didn’t know what my medium was at that time and did some traveling. I went to India and fell in love with the craftsmanship of working with metal. I made a few pieces and brought them back to New York. My family and friends loved what I have created so, I went back to India and opened up a small workshop.
How many employees did you start with?
It was just me. But after a year or so I hired a driver as my first employee. Because it is impossible to haul all of the materials and products in a rickshaw. Now I have 250 employees working at Michael Aram and some of them are still there from the very beginning in India.
That is really cool. You must be fantastic to work for. So where did you start selling your pieces?
Gift Shows. It was really good for me because it generated brand awareness.
But now you have your Flagship store. It looks amazing!
Yes, I opened it 7 years ago on 18th street in Chelsea. It is an old carriage house that I transformed into the store. I also have the work room on top. The walls are made of cast aluminum tiles and painted-black brick focus attention on the intricate metal dishes, platters, and silverware.
Do you have any of your own pieces in your home? Do you have a favorite collection?
I do! I think I don’t, but when my friends come over, they tell me I do! I guess that will happen when you have created over 7,500 pieces in 25 years! I can’t say I have a favorite collection because each one has a special connection. But when I pull out an earlier piece, I do get sentimental.
I understand there is a special announcement coming out soon BUT, we get to hear it first?
Yes, we are launching a jewelry line with Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdales in August. The line will still reference both the natural and ethereal realms like our handcrafted home décor.
Any special places you like to visit while in Chicago?
I am great friends with the owners Carrie and Michael Nahabedian of NAHA. They opened another restaurant BRINDILLE we will be visiting tonight.
Thank you so much for sitting down with me at Neiman Marcus today. I am so thrilled you were here signing pieces I could get mine engraved as well.
Be sure to stop by Neiman Marcus to purchase Michael Aram pieces. It is a wonderful collaboration!