For Stephen Maharam, a principal in his family's textile company, gorgeous gadgets are for buying. A photograph is for dreaming.
Name: Stephen Maharam.
Occupation: Co-principal (with brother Michael) of textile company Maharam, which has offices in New York City and Hauppauge, N.Y., plus 30 show rooms and offices nationwide. Annual revenue is $100 million.
Age and home: 41, Manhattan.
Background: The Maharam brothers--the fourth generation to run the 102-year-old company--have put their own stamp on their contract textiles, which line cubicles or cover office chairs and walls. Deciding to offer more than stolid durability, they upped the cool quotient by reviving archival patterns by Charles and Ray Eames and Alexander Girard and collaborating with designers such as Jack Spade and Paul Smith. They also launched furniture and accessory lines sold at such hip havens as Design Within Reach and Moss.
Avoiding the New Coke problem: "There was a concern not to alienate traditional clients," says Stephen Maharam. So the company introduced edgier styles under a separate brand. Maharam says taking risks is less daunting when you've built a reputation for quality and service, which never go out of style.
New year's resolution: "This job is a seven-days-a-week job. I need to get better at taking vacations."
Things I Can't Live Without...
Canon EOS-1D, $4,999: "The super high-speed auto-focus and ability to shoot eight frames per second allow me to stop action."
Nike Atmosair Xpand, $50: "This is incredibly comfortable and has a handy cell phone pocket on the shoulder strap for easy access."
Samsung SGH-V205, $350: "I can use it globally. It has a video camera, the interface is smart, and the navigation is intuitive."
...And What I Covet
"Country Doctor" (1948), by W. Eugene Smith: "It was part of the series Smith did for Life magazine. This doctor is that dying breed of generalist that small towns are clamoring for as more and more medical students turn toward specialization. I collect photography, and I had a chance to buy the image about five years ago, but the price was more than I could think of spending then. Now I would spend twice that, but it's nowhere to be found."