Someone You Should Know: DWR’s Michael Sainato

Photo by Marshall Kappel (@marshallkappel)

The Most Red We’ve Ever Had In an Interview

You most likely know all about Design Within Reach, purveyors of modern home furnishings that make you stop and stare every time you walk by the window. Or is it Modern home furnishings? The point is, it’s not polite to stare. But back to Modernity. The big M makes all the difference, doesn’t it? Another big M you should know is Michael Sainato, DWR’s VP of  Creative. Let’s get to know him, shall we?

How long have you lived in New York?
It’ll be eight years this September. We lived in Marin County just North of San Francisco for 20 years prior.

If you could pull one neighborhood in the city as an inspiration to creativity and design, what area, street, or particular venue would you spotlight?
It would have to be the West Village where we live. I always get teased about never leaving the Village, but why would you when it has everything you could ever want. We’ve met a number of wonderful and creative people since moving here and it’s always inspiring. You see something new almost every day. I know it’s not what it was “back in the day,” but I think it’ll always be one of the most interesting neighborhoods in the city.

Let’s say that we have a few friends joining us for dinner later this month, what three restaurants would you put on the list as preferred places we should all go?
There’s nothing trendy here, but these are our tried and true favorite places. Barbuto: The best roasted chicken and potatoes outside of the Zuni Cafe in San Francisco. Can be a little loud, but the atmosphere is great you’ll often see the owner and Chef Jonathan Waxman there. Tartine: The ultimate neighborhood restaurant that’s been around forever. It’s equally as good on a hot summer’s night sitting outside on the sidewalk or a cold winter’s night being cozy inside. The sauteed chicken and french fries are sublime. One of the few places where I will always order the exact thing again and again. Buvette: The owner and Chef Jody Williams couldn’t be nicer and you can have a great meal just on the tartinettes alone. Also a great bar with wonderful seasonal cocktails. The Bees Knees! I know that’s three, but I have to plug Jody’s other place Via Carota, Rita Sodi’s I Sodi (the best pasta in NYC) and Mary’s Fishcamp because the food is great and they love our dog Fergus.

Don’t tell anyone this…

Another storm is scheduled to roll through the New York area this winter. Ideal place you are for a night when 24″ of fresh goodness touches the ground?
It would have to be our home in East Hampton. Don’t tell anyone this, but the East End is as equally beautiful in the winter as it is in the summer and truly magical after a fresh snow. There’s nothing like a walk on the beach while it’s snowing…

How has New York shaped your perspective and the way you approach life?
There’s always going to be someone better off than you and there’s always going to be someone worse off, so make the best of what you have at the moment…and enjoy it.

Three (newsletters, magazines or Instagram accounts, dealer’s choice) that everyone should follow?
Eye Magazine, the best magazine on design and one of the best-designed magazines. Richard Sachs’ Instagram account: @therichardsachs. One of the great builders of handmade bikes (everything always seems to come back to cycling…) and a truly inspirational writer. You can get so much from his account even if you have little or no interest in cycling. The blog/newsletter George coined the phrase “How to live like a Thousandaire” and gives advice, mostly for men, on how to live a nice lifestyle without being rich.

One thing many people do not know about Design Within Reach?
The color of our logo is Pantone 485

The best piece of advice anyone has ever provided you?
This one’s a little harsh, but I’ll never forget it…I once asked for raise and promotion when I was in my mid-twenties and my boss at the time said, “I pride myself on rewarding people without them having to ask for it…I haven’t gotten there yet with you.” Ouch! What I took away from that was to focus on doing the best work you can and things will come to you. I share a similar thing with my art students and tell them not to think about their grades, but to focus on their work and the grades will follow. The other great piece of advice is, ride with soft tires…

One piece of advice you would share with up-and-coming marketers, creatives, and designers?
Surround yourself with people who work well together and respect each other and forget about the “star power.” Understand that regardless of titles, everyone has an equal contribution to getting something done and getting done well.

We are working on the upcoming Travel Issue of Whalebone Magazine. Name a place you guys would like to visit that has not made the list yet? Disclaimer: By answering this question Whalebone is not agreeing to send you to this location to research for our Travel Issue. Or are we?
I’m going to cheat and give you two. Lake Como, Italy for the sole reason of riding the course of the Giro Lombardia, my favorite cycling classic. I rode a small part of it a few years ago with a very close friend and it was by the far the best day on a bike I ever had and one of the best days ever. Curacao in the Dutch Antilles, because my wife was born there (she’s Dutch) and has the loveliest stories of her earlier childhood. Wouldn’t WB love to help someone relive their childhood and get a great article out of it as well?

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