The design world has a lot of corners—product, furniture, architecture, data science—and honestly a bunch of them are pretty chilly. But one place where there’s always room around the fire is Tina Roth Eisenberg’s mini empire. Eisenberg, a Swiss-born former graphic designer, has three big ventures going at once, all of them warm, welcoming, and fun. There’s Creative Mornings, a sort of design world TED Talks, which every month gathers together dynamic minds for a free talk that’s open to anyone who registers quickly enough (and you’ll get a fantastic free breakfast, too). Then there’s Tattly, Brooklyn’s own temporary tattoo powerhouse, which has all sorts of interesting, funny, and sweet designs, from cartoon ghosts to gentleman foxes, diamonds, watches, and a lot more. There’s also the beautifully curated Bergen Street coworking space Friends Work Here, the design blog swissmiss, the organizational app TeuxDeux, a design practice also called swissmiss, and on and on, projects lined up as far as the eye can see. All of them are un-self-serious, inclusive, and produce high-quality design. They could only have come from Eisenberg.
How’s the life of a mogul?
That’s cute. I would never use that word.
Maybe a better question is, how do you decide what makes a good new venture for you?First of all, there’s an embargo. I’m not allowed to have any new projects unless I let one go. I’m definitely struggling a lot right now, but luckily I have amazing teams who are very self-sufficient and resourceful and figure things out. I definitely feel like I’m pushing the limits of my attention.
Sometimes I wonder if the necessity of having to be kind of hands-off and not being able to control everything, as some CEOs do, if they only have one company–I actually think Tattly and Creative Mornings have become so much better because my teams had to really jump in and bring themselves into it more. It’s not just me, always directing everything.
The design world is a big place, with lots of different niches and cliques. Your projects have so much fun and energy and inclusiveness. Why is that important to you?
My main rule, my biggest goal, is always being inclusive. Creative Mornings, for example, it’s free to anyone who happens to be fast. You just have to sign up. You have CEOs and founders sitting next to students, which is so cool. When you go to a regular conference, it’s usually very elitist and not open to anyone, because they’re time-consuming and expensive.
When you start something not as a business—the thought of making money with Creative Mornings never really occurred to me, it’s just a labor of love because I wanted to have a way to meet creative people in my city. I’m a real believer that when you do things from the heart, as a labor of love, you attract a different type of people and you create a different type of momentum, than if you do something for the sake of money and for the sake of making a living. And the same thing kind of happened with Tattly—that was sort of a joke, more than anything else. And again, it’s just that people sense more than ever if things come from the heart, rather than being about a balance sheet and a bottom line.
I’ve read that you’d live in a white box if you could. Why?
You know how some people react to noise? I react that way to visual clutter, or just things not aligning or living in harmony—that to me is noise. I have this weird obsession with white. And I like monochromatic interiors. It’s kind of like, I take so much visual in all day long, I kind of have to have that resting place when I come home. So I have this obsession with living in a white, monochromatic environment where everything is very easy on the eyes.
What drew you to Brooklyn, and what keeps you here?
Well, it’s funny, but I always had this draw to New York, living in the Swiss countryside. I was raised in what I call the Arizona of Switzerland—a very spiritual place, an open-minded home, where we believe in past lives. I know this makes a lot of people very uncomfortable, but I knew the minute I arrived in New York and I walked down the street that I was home. I’m a big believer that I have past-life history in New York.
That was 16 years ago. I remember walking down Broadway to my first interview—this is like 14 hours after I arrived—and I remember this incredible sensation of, oh my God, everybody walks as fast as me. Everybody talks as fast as me. Everybody’s open and helpful and friendly. It was a real coming home. Sounds really cheesy, but it’s true. ♦