“King of the Garment District” Milo Kleinberg dies at 97

Milo Kleinberg, the famed interior designer known as the “King of the Garment District,” died on June 19 at his home in Riverdale, New York. He was 97.

MKDA, the New York-based, 75-person architecture and interior design firm Kleinberg founded in 1959, announced his death this week.

Kleinberg was born in Vienna, Austria, migrating with his family to the United States after the Nazis began occupying the country in 1939. The family settled in Brooklyn’s Borough Park neighborhood and after selling handkerchiefs, Kleinberg became an associate with an architect in the city.

In 1959, he started Milo Kleinberg Design Associates, a solo operation at the time. Kleinberg found a niche working with commercial real estate players to design spaces that could market the buildings and their amenities.

Nowhere did Kleinberg prove more effective than in Manhattan’s Garment District. Fashion brands flocked to him to design their showrooms, and he was recruited by the likes of Gloria Vanderbilt and Ellen Tracy. A key innovation of Kleinberg’s was the use of glass partitions to divide spaces.

Kleinberg’s firm also designed retail and office spaces, including for Citibank, Lufthansa, Merrill Lynch and Apple Bank. The interior designer also offered pro bono consulting services to causes close to his heart, including the Riverdale Jewish Center.

MKDA has four offices across the country, including in Stamford and Miami. It is run by Milo’s sons Michael and Jeffrey Kleinberg, who remembered their father as a philanthropist and “true visionary in the world of interior design.”

Kleinberg was preceded in death by his wife of 60 years, Bertha, as well as his sister. In addition to his two sons, he is survived by several grandchildren and great grandchildren, a number of whom are MKDA employees.

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