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5 Things We Learned... Alice Engel



Creative and classy. Sweet and whip smart. Alice Engel has an exceptional eye for textiles, color, and compelling artwork. We worked together in the store design department at Tiffany and Co. and bonded quickly over material design, art history, and traveling tales of French countryside. Born and raised in Manhattan, Alice currently leads the interior design department at Peter Pennoyer Architects. With an A.B. in History of Art and Architecture from Harvard College (’04) and a Masters in Textile Design from Rhode Island School of Design (’07), she is an engaged member of the art and design field....and a stellar art and design fair companion.

Here are 5 Things We Learned about Alice.

What made you...you?

My family and schooling, inevitably, and growing up in New York City and our house in the Beaverkill Valley in the Catskills. I am both city mouse and country mouse.  

When are you happiest?

I am happiest when I am making things or around makers. I have a handsome Nilus Leclerc four harness floor loom at home —  when I carve out the time for it, I can weave for hours uninterrupted. The rhythm of repetition and the immediacy of building colors and textures is satisfying. I feel the same way about knitting, drawing, collaging and painting.

For my work as a decorator I often have to visit workrooms to review custom work in progress, from cabinetmakers to upholstery shops. I have a great respect for the artisans I work with and always look to their craftsmanship and mastery of materials for inspiration — whether it’s straw marquetry, ceramic, gypsum or burl wood. 

Would you rather have a muse or be a muse?

I would rather have a muse. The word “muse” connotes a passive role; it is defined as a source of inspiration, of which I am always in pursuit. While the original nine muses, the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, presided over the arts (which sounds like an ace job description), mine is a more participatory role. I send these musings from the Cleveland Museum of Art, in fact, where I find myself on a break from a recent interiors installation.

Who do you admire?

My mother for her work ethic. My father for his intellect. My sister for her warmth. My husband for his goodness. 

What is important?

Love. A sense of humor. A curious mind. Kindness.

Check out Alice's day job at www.ppapc.com

Images from left to right: Alice Engel; Paper mâché masks by Dhanalakota Nageshwar; Giant Poppies wall covering by Lanette Scheeline, 1966; Malick Sidibé's Nuit de Noel (Happy-club), 1963; Kim Markel’s cast-resin Glow chair; Taxidermy harlequin macaw from Hunter & Rose