Glenn Gissler: Principal, Glenn Gissler Design

My NativeAdVantage:


Glenn Gissler Design was founded in 1987 – his first client was a young fashion designer named Michael Kors for whom he has done a number of projects for over the years including two residences.  Early in his career Glenn also did work for Kelly and Calvin Klein, and Ian Schrager on their beach houses. Glenn has degrees in both Architecture and Fine Arts from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) Glenn’s work has appeared in a long list of magazines & books including an exciting new book coming out next month – Interior Design Master Class edited by Carl Dellatore. Also worth noting is that he is included in this years “New York Spaces Top 50”  He is an active Member of the Board of the RISD Museum of Art and Design, and the Board of the New York Metro Chapter of ASID where he assumes the role of President in October.

What do I do best?

I am a change agent. I see the possibilities of making the world a better and more beautiful place – this manifests itself in streetscapes, people’s homes, the spaces they live in, and even tablescapes

I am also good at ’connecting dots’. There are many things in my life experience that can seem utterly obvious to me that I am often surprised to learn others didn’t see, or recognize the relationships. This can be in history of art and design, or career opportunities and strategies for my friends and family.

What makes me the best version of myself?

I am worker – I have never shied away from putting in the time and effort to achieve a goal, or keep my word.

I have had my own business for over thirty years. Some people correlate it with working free-lance. I assure them that it is anything from free! I am accountable to my clients, my employees, my collaborators and to myself to maintain the very high standards that I maintain. Keeping myself accountable and doing the work to maintain my accountability supports my other talents and aptitudes.

What are my aspirations?

Personal: Nurture my relationships with my family, and friendships (new and in some cases many decades old) sharing quality time over meals or adventures, supporting their life goals,  offering support with their travails, and having fun.

Business: While I remain deeply engaged in my work, I am developing a succession plan to continue the thirty year legacy of Glenn Gissler Design, and provide me with more flexibility and time for personal adventures.  

My Biggest Success?

My remarkable daughter Siena.

My Most Challenging Moment?

In 1987 I was offered a big commercial project designing the showroom, offices, design studio, production and shipping facilities for a young fashion designer named Michael Kors. I was just four years out of school, but I quit my job and with a $ 5,000 deposit, and no savings, I opened Glenn Gissler Design. Two weeks later was an economic event referred to as Black Monday when the stock market dropped 35% in one day….Thankfully (?) I was naive enough that I did not really understand the challenges Ahead, stating “I didn’t think it would affect me since none of my clients worked on Wall St” – famous last words!  The ‘start-up period went on for years, but with hard work, perseverance and tenacity I survived!

My Motto?

Be careful what you wish for, and be VERY specific!

My Favorite People/Role Models?

I have been blessed with a number or remarkably inspiring and supportive teachers/mentors in my life.

My third grade teacher inspired me to be deeply curious and be myself – I was in touch with her for over forty years.

I also had a remarkable family friend who was an artist and a real character who lived a life outside the box. I am still in touch with her.

And then there is the literary character Pippi Longstocking – who was a goofy red-headed, freckled, unconventional, and superhumanly strong. She was a young girl who lived by herself with a monkey and a horse on the porch and lived life her way!

My Favorite Places/Destinations?

I love spending time at an 1840 Greek Revival farmhouse I own in Litchfield County, Connecticut entertaining myself, and others and tending to ambitious plans for improving the property. I have a long history with Shelter Island, and island between the north and south forks of Long Island where time has essentially stood still. Italy is also a favorite place in almost all of its guises particularly Umbria.

In more general terms I love historic houses, art galleries and museums.

My Favorite Products/Objects?

I consider my practice that one of experiential alchemy in the design of interiors; where the whole is much greater than the sum of the parts! I am always on the lookout for objects, artwork, furniture, artifacts, etc. that catch my eye, and when combined with other items generate a cultural and visual dialogue.

My father used to tell a (bad) joke – how many dead people are there in that cemetery? Answer: All of them.

I have collected many things over my lifetime books, art, objects, photographs, etc. etc. In answer to our question about my favorite products and objects I would have to respond “All of them.

Current Passions?

Art remains a major passion for me. Seeing and experiencing it, reading about it, developing my own collection, assisting my clients with developing collections, and sharing my passion with anyone who is interested! One of the most satisfying ways this passion manifest itself is with my long relationship with the RISD Museum (Rhode Island School of Design). RISD is where I received my degrees in fine arts and architecture, and the museum was a great source of inspiration. It is an astounding museum with an encyclopedic collection. I have given the museum more than 200 items to date, with a lifetime goal of 1,000 items – be careful what you wish for!