What’s your background?
I was born and raised on a small kibbutz in the Golan Heights, on the northern tip of Israel. After the Army, I moved to New York and attended The School of Visual Arts. I worked my way through school in an ad agency and as a photographer’s assistant. After school, I landed a role at The Arnell Group. They where my first choice (and first interview). I spent a year doing what all fresh designers do – working nights, weekends and holidays, proving myself. After a brilliant year with little sleep, MTV called and asked me to join their team. I spent nine years at MTV, after which I did a stint at Wolff Olins, a brand consultancy. Coke called in 2007. I declined their first offer: How could I leave New York?! Finally, I acquiesced. I can’t say the road has been easy – but passion, steadfastness and the belief that Coca-Cola isn’t an ordinary brand made great things happen.
Why did you get into design?
When I was 12, I drew a picture for my mom. She framed it and hung it in our living room. On the kibbutz growing up, we all wore the same things. Palladium shoes in the summer. Red Clarks for girls, brown for boys in the winter. My mom would take me to Tel-Aviv to pick out something else, as she wanted me to have something different. I remember once picking out grass-green sandals, very Céline'esk. I can still picture them in my mind. When I would outgrow my OshKosh B’gosh overalls, she would make the bottom part into a skirt, and embroider flowers and colorful scenes on them. I had an appreciation for beautiful things, for details. I used to spend hours building LEGO worlds as I escaped into my fantasies. I'm not sure that design was ever a conscience decision; my life unfolded in this direction. I wanted to be an architect, and when I moved to New York, I met with a professor at Cooper Union. He said I should study graphic design instead, and that the teachers at SVA are the best because they are all practicing designers. I remember my first day at SVA... pure elation to be surrounded by like-minded individuals who wanted form to follow function in the world around them, and to make beautiful things. The rest is history.
Who, or what, inspires you?
Excellence, guts, directness, honesty and people who possess these characteristics.
How long have you worked at Coke?
Going on nine years.
What makes Coke special?
My first memories of Coke were fromPassover vacation. Every year, The King and I movie was shown on TV at 10 a.m. I used to stay home and watch it on our black-and-white TV. I would carefully untie the package of coconut macaroons my mom bought for the holiday and hoped she wouldn’t notice, and enjoy them with an ice-cold Coke. That’s my first memory of Coke. We all have one – a reminder of a happy moment. When something wonderful happens to us, we want to repeat it. Coca-Cola reminds us of these moments. To be able to capture someone’s heart and maintain an emotional connection is a powerful and special thing. It’s magical.
What have you been working on?
The Mashup project has been a huge part of my past year: managing the over 150 designers who were invited to take part in the project brief. There was the exhibition at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, the Kiss the Past Hello book with Assouline, the licensing launch of Mashup at Colette in Paris, an exhibit at The World of Coca-Cola, a book Global Design printed of all the Mashup art as a gift to all who contributed. It’s the year of Mashup. Branding design for Workplace 2020, and a very special retail project, on top of my day-to-day licensing and retail projects.
What can’t you live without?
My darling boys, silence, sleep, beauty, order, Earl Grey tea and Hermes.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I haven't mastered work-life balance yet. Frankly, I think it’s a myth. I have two young boys, ages three and five, so my “outside work” is their time. We read a lot, play with LEGOs, build very long train tracks, have dance parties and keep a perpetual and ever-growing list for Santa. Also I’m mildly obsessed with Pinterest and Instagram (@deklahpolansky).
What do you listen to?
These days, a rotation of Florence and the Machine, Adele, Barbra Streisand, Biggie Smalls, Celine Dion, Nas, James Taylor, Depeche Mode, Raffi and Winnie the Pooh.
What do you watch?
Wild Kratts, Octonauts, Mighty Machines, 64 Zoo Lane, and Chanel short films.
What do you read?
I read every night with my boys. These days, their picks are Iggy Peck, Architect, Rosie Revere, Engineer, The Snail and the Whale, and The Day the Crayons Quit, they each get one book before bed. For the few moments I get for me: my all-time favorite book, and one I reread often, is Letters To A Young Poet. Now I’m reading China Rich Girlfriend, and it’s a gluttonous delicacy of perfection.