Bonnie Mackay's New Post-Modern Career
Warren Shoulberg -- Home Textiles Today, May 16, 2013
NEW YORK - Proving that there is life after museums, Bonnie Mackay, who headed up the Museum of Modern Art's retail merchandising and design efforts, has embarked upon a new chapter in her career, out on her own and working with a wide variety of companies.
Mackay - her name is often mispronounced, but the correct way to say it is Mac-Kye, emphasis on the second syllable - left MOMA last December after a 14-year career as director of creative marketing and merchandising where she headed up buying and product development. Over that period of time, MOMA expanded its retail operations with additional stores, a website and a host of exclusive products sourced from around the world, many of which she personally created.
Her decision to leave, while not an easy one after all those years, was predicated on her desire to do some different things in her life.
"All my life, I've been working for brands," she said, mentioning the nearly two decades before MOMA that she spent with Bloomingdale's as fashion director for home. "I saw a chance to reinvent myself and to start giving back and working with smaller companies. I love to grow brands and have a real passion for it.
"I also felt my age group (baby boomers) was being ignored in products and I wanted to develop products for people like me."
And that she is most certainly doing. Among her first projects is an association with OHMU, a company that is developing canes with, as she says, "hip materials and colors." A second project is with the Able Made website, where she is involved in product development along the same lines.
"I'm very attuned to our generation and I don't think people are paying enough attention to it. We have money," she said, adding that the needs of aging Americans are not being addressed by current products.
She is also doing consulting work with museums and has just joined the board of two academic institutions: LIM (Laboratory Institute of Merchandising) and Drexel University where she has been named to the Rankin Scholar in Residence Program. She will focus on what she calls "cross-generational life experiences and product design and development," involved in addressing special needs populations "while maintaining high design standards."
All of this academic activity will be supplemented with her commercial activities under the B Mackay Consulting banner. Right now she is exploring several opportunities and said she would love to work in textiles - one of her favorite areas - as well as both in-store and online design and development.
It's a full plate for the Brooklyn- based resident, whose light red hair, whimsical laugh and deep convictions have defined every stage of her long career in home furnishings design and retailing.
But she says it all comes naturally to her. "People always call me Bonnie Mc-Eyes, because I seem to be able to see what's coming."
Bonnie Mackay: She now has a full plate of projects after a long career with MOMA Retail.
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