The Eisenlau file Featured

7:00pm EDT November 25, 2010

Born: Nassau County, N.Y., grew up on the North Shore of Long Island.

Education: Bachelor of fine arts and bachelor of architecture, Rhode Island School of Design

What’s the best advice you’ve received?

Optimism is probably a big one for me. In this day and age, being optimistic, to me, is extremely important. First of all, it’s a design-centric kind of thought. It’s hard to be pessimistic if you’re a good designer. Good designers are usually optimistic. They’re trend setters. They’re tone setters, so optimism and a healthy mind in many ways to me are central. I had very optimistic parents and very creative parents, and in the design world, you need to constantly question things and question alternatives.

What was your first job?

I actually started my own company. I was 16 or 17 years old, and I printed up these business cards that said Service with a Smile — I ran around the neighbor and I fixed things and repaired things. I was entrepreneurial at an early age and social. I liked working with neighbors and getting them to understand how people lived. It was interesting, so I did all kinds of odd jobs as a kid. That turned out to be really successful and I was a busy kid and made a bunch of money when I was 16, 17, 18, and then I ran off to college and it was a different story.

What’s your favorite project that you’ve worked on?

My own house addition. I have a house above Lake Rabun in North Georgia, and I spent almost two years doing an addition on it, which is only about 580 square feet but it was a total labor of love and it’s designed and built like a Swiss watch, and I became somewhat obsessed with it. We work on very large projects at HOK, so I sort of created a project to stimulate myself at a very small scale, which is extremely difficult to do if you know architects, but it was extremely satisfying. It’s a beautiful place to spend the weekends.