Remarkable Alum


Below are profiles of Hobart and William Smith alumni and alumnae whose big ideas are changing the world.

Eric Cohler '81

Eric Cohler '81

Dubbed the "Mixmaster" by industry magazine editors for his ability to mix traditional and classical forms with a contemporary sensitivity, Cohler is one of the country's leading interior designers and has been named to the top 10 designer list in the U.S. by Elle Decor. He is also included in House Beautiful's "Top 100" designers issue, and has had his design and fabric selected by President Barack and Mrs. Michelle Obama for the White House dining room. He was also recently named as an Ambassador of Arts and Spirituality to the United Nations and served as the keynote speaker of the G 20 in Seoul, South Korea.

Cohler received his bachelor's degree in English and art with a concentration in history from Hobart, where he was a member of Kappa Alpha and was on the Dean's List. He then went on to earn a master's degree in historic preservation from Columbia University School of Architecture and a certificate in design from Harvard Graduate School of Design.

After graduation, Cohler went on to brief stints at Ketchum Communications and Saatchi and Saatchi, two of the world's largest public relations and communications agencies, before establishing Eric Cohler Designs in 1991. Based in New York City, Cohler works closely with clients to design and develop the space of their dreams in the United States, Europe, Asia and the Caribbean.

His aesthetic is sought after for the country's top houses, including the Kips Bay and Hampton Designer Showhouses. Cohler's work often appears in leading domestic and international periodicals, books, and design television shows. Interior design manufacturers have taken notice of Cohler's distinctive design aesthetic, with Visual Comfort carrying his lighting designs, and Lee Jofa premiering a Cohler fabric collection in September 2006. He also collaborates with Armstrong and Kenmore to design appliances.

Leading domestic and international publications such as Traditional Home, Town and Country, Veranda and The New York Times, feature Cohler's work and writing on a regular basis. He is a contributing editor to the American Art Collector and American Fine Art. Cohler has made numerous television appearances on HGTV, Fine Living, CBS, NBC, PBS and ABC's "The View." Sears Kenmore and Cohler teamed up for "Country Escape," which tied with Martha Stewart for first place in the interior design category.

The International Foodservice Distributors Association awarded Cohler with its Circle of Excellence Award and both Traditional Home and the Decoration and Design Building in New York named him Designer of the Year. His book, "Cohler on Design," is slated for publication in fall of 2012.

Giving back to his alma mater every year, Cohler serves as an adjunct professor at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. He supports the Eric Cohler Internship and Travel Award, which he established annually to support one student interested in design and/or the arts through internship and study abroad experiences.


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