Q&A with Holly and Hedda

08.05.17

Hi guys! After months of secret-keeping and scurrying about behind the Avenue scenes getting all manner of things organised, I finally revealed to you that there are now two faces behind this blog -that interior designer Hedda Pier and Avenue Lifestyle (interior styling, editorial and photography studio) have joined forces under the name Avenue Design Studio. In case you missed it, click here to catch up!

With much excitement, we rolled out the announcement accompanied with fresh images taken by the lovely Hanke Arkenbout at our new studio in The Hague, along with an all new ‘About‘ page. But we thought you might like to get to know us as a team a little bit more, and learn a bit about how our partnership came about, so we put together a series of questions which we each answered individually, from the heart. We felt it only fair to throw Hedda right into the deep-end and get her to answer a few questions first, followed by mine. Let’s jump straight to the hot-seat!

HEDDA

|| How is Avenue different to the business that you had before?

My previous business was different from Avenue in many ways, both aesthetically and professionally. The biggest difference I am noticing now, is that Pier Design was not outward facing. I didn’t have a blog and I wasn’t very active on social media. My clients have always come to me through word-of-mouth or recommendations. I never really had to consider how something I said, or a product I used, would reflect on my business or brand, or how ‘an audience’ would perceive this. I did a lot of renovation work for clients, project managing building sites, working with contractors, designing the architectural space: taking out walls, installing kitchens and bathrooms, flooring choices etc. I’m fortunate to have worked on some beautiful (old) buildings, however, I felt frustrated that I didn’t always have the opportunity to ‘complete’ a space. Often, clients had put so much time, energy and money into the actual build, that there was simply not enough funds and energy to go all the way with art, beautiful furniture and accessories.

Over the course of the last year I decided I wanted more creative freedom and I wanted to focus more on layering spaces. I was also becoming disenchanted with working from my home studio and was missing having input from others. It was a solitary process despite working with suppliers and clients daily, I was responsible for the creative vision and the implementation. Holly and I went through this phase at the same time and often talked about the future and where we were going. Over the years we talked about working together many times jokingly, but didn’t really see ‘how’. I think we had to develop ourselves first. Now we are a team of four people, we share the highs and the lows, and the responsibilities. We divide and conquer. We all play to our strengths. I feel we are in a very strong position to take Avenue to the next level.

|| How has it been for you, entering, into a brand that is so closely intertwined with Holly’s personal style?

I’ve known Holly for five years and I have watched her start Avenue, grow the brand and develop it over time. We’re close friends and I feel like I have been there throughout that process from the sidelines. I know Avenue like the back of my hand. For me to come into Avenue was more of a question of whether I could make it part of me, contribute to it in a positive way, and if Holly would give me the room to do that. Holly is fiercely brand loyal, which has contributed to her success, but when we went into this we talked a lot about how I could add to value aesthetically. Holly and I have very similar backgrounds. We both grew up in Africa (Ghana and South Africa) and have travelled extensively in our childhoods and as adults. We are true internationals, comfortable with different cultures, people and aesthetics. We understand each other and although we approach projects from a different angle, we are noticeably inspired and influenced very much by our (very similar) life experiences.

When we first went into this, we had numerous personal and at times confrontational conversations in which we positioned ourselves and carved out our individual roles within Avenue. It was almost like having another relationship where we moved in together and had to figure out how we would ‘run the household’ and what pieces of furniture could stay or go. We joke that we each have a husband, and a wife (I think it’s kind of nice for our husbands because we probably don’t talk to – at – them as much!). Ultimately I believe that we grow and learn constantly, our personal and working relationship is based on mutual respect and communication. I’m confident that we are both comfortable with where this is going and we’re excited about the future.

|| What are Holly’s strengths and how do you compliment each other?

Holly is extremely committed and hard working. Avenue is her baby. She is inspired by quality and authenticity and has very clear vision. She knows exactly what she does and doesn’t like and I have always thought that she carries her brand through into every aspect of her life; what she wears, her home and even what she eats. I see my role in sometimes challenging her on that and pushing the boundaries, but the fact is that Avenue is a successful brand as a result of this focus and dedication. Holly’s ability to put together beautiful pieces and then photograph them is something I am envious of. Her combined skills as a stylist and a photographer are unique and invaluable. She thinks in visual frames and is detail orientated where I think more in space and functionality. We are both very aesthetically oriented people; Holly leans more towards minimalism and a paired back aesthetic, where I can be a bit more eclectic and risk taking in my style. I am the pragmatist out of the two of us. I am organised and focused on planning. Our end goal is the same, the road we take to get there and what each of us does to contribute to that end goal is different.

|| How would you describe Holly in three words?

 Loyal | Charismatic | Authentic

|| What are your aspirations for Avenue over the coming 5 years?

Coming into Avenue feels like ticking a box of long desired goals, having a beautiful studio and a team is a welcome change from working alone from home. One the one hand, I was ‘giving up’ what I had already built up myself but thankfully, Holly has shared Avenue with me graciously.  I am 100% committed to building on the foundations that she has so successfully put down, from relationships with suppliers to brand reputation, to growing and nurturing the team we now have together. I would love to see us take on more commercial projects, perhaps a boutique hotel. We’ve fantasised about this many, many times before. Obviously, my personal strengths would be best put to use if we could do a project like that from scratch, renovating a unique building and re-designing the space. Taking it all the way from the branding concept to the interior design to the final / photography. This is what makes us a perfect team, we can provide a start to finish service, which, if you include the final styling and photography, in-house, is rare. Most of all I want to grow Avenue into a respected player in this industry, financially healthy and a fun business to work for. Ultimately, both Holly and I came into this because we are passionate about interiors and aesthetics. As long as we get to do what we love, and we continue to have fun doing it, the future is bright.


HOLLY

|| How has it been for you to have somebody else come into a brand that has been so personal for you?

Avenue is very much a part of who I am, and this blog and what is represents is very dear to me because of that. Everything here is a snippet of what I have seen, done or experienced. Sharing anything on a personal and creative level is bound to be confronting to anybody. At the same time, you can’t expect to grow and evolve without letting in fresh input and I am very open to that. Hedda has been such a part of the my creative journey on the sidelines from the very beginning – she inspired me to branch into interiors at a very transitional point of my life, encouraging me to explore photography and style. We know each other so well as friends first and foremost, sharing our goals, dreams successes and failures along the way with each other and identifying with each other creatively and personally to a point where the merge has been a very natural transition for both of us. It has been a surprisingly easy transition and I am genuinely excited to see what we will create together. The goal is obviously to develop Avenue as a space that reflects us both, and continue to build the brand to something that is the sum of our shared vision. This has been, and will continue to be a slow, organic process that feels comfortable for both of us.

|| How do you approach projects that come in and what are your roles in the studio?

While we are both creative, we have settled into a natural division of roles in the studio. As projects come in, we always tackle the initial concept and designing phase as a team, discussing our individual ideas, brainstorming and talking through the brief together. One of us will then take the lead on a project, depending on what it is and what it will require, who’s available, and who can tackle the work in the best and most efficient way. Having both worked from home for so long, it’s been so great having our own studio space as a playground and a place to invite clients to.

|| How would you describe Hedda in three words?

Pragmatic | Honest | Compassionate

|| What are Hedda’s strengths and how do you compliment each other?

Hedda has spent several years managing renovations, sometimes of a large and challenging scale, and has a very broad knowledge of the field including a broad design vocabulary, a substantial network of suppliers in the industry and an innate appreciation and skilled knowledge of ionic design and influencers. She is definitely more organised than I am, is skilled in project management and has a more practical knowledge of spacial design and materials than I do. I am more visually oriented where details, objects, colour and photography are concerned. We certainly compliment each other and are respectful of each other’s unique attributes.

|| What are your aspirations for Avenue over the coming 5 years?

I am sometimes amazed at how many goals I have reached with Avenue in such a short time and I am energised to reach a great many in the years to come, particularly with Hedda at the helm to share my vision. A few of my goals include doing more spacial photography work, on an international scale as well as local, and fine-tuning these skills. I am deeply inspired by craft and object creation and would love to document makers in a personal, editorial context. Conceptual work for brands is something that inspires and challenges me and is definitely an area I see Avenue moving to over time. We are already working with brands that we respect and enjoy the process of helping a brand to reach new heights through the appropriate styling of their product and the right photography. Residential interior design (both remote and locally) as well as more challenging and exciting commercial design continues to be a goal. Creative freedom in this industry is, I suppose, the ultimate goal. I see us expanding into products, such as textiles, bespoke furniture and homewares. It’s all exciting, I absolutely love my work and am invigorated to have a parter in crime to share it with – the good, the bad and the ugly!

So that’s us! We hope you enjoyed getting to know us both a little bit more from this interview. We would love to hear from you in the comments section below and of course it would be wonderful if you would stop by to give Hedda a warm welcome!

Come back tomorrow to see our brand new studio space! It’s such an amazing space to work in, we can’t wait to show you what we’ve been working on this past few months.

H & H

Photography: Hanke Arkenbout

7 Responses to “Q&A with Holly and Hedda”

  1. Jonne says:

    Hi Holly and Hedda! Wow you guys, so exciting! Would be lovely to see Avenue with two wonderful ladies, so I’m curious and can’t wait to see your first project together. Wish you all the luck in the world, with love Jonne

  2. Nadiah says:

    Hi Holly and Hedda! Wow this is such a wonderful news! I’ve been an avid follower of yours for years and I can’t help but feel happy for your new milestone. I hope you know you have inspired me to start my own blog/journal which has now transformed itself (after a long natural course of discovery) into a travel-design website. I pray for many more successes for you and Hedda and may there be more abundance for you and your family! 🙂

    Love and light,
    Nadiah

  3. Yay!! I am SO thrilled for you both! Huge congratulations on the big announcement!!! You ladies have done an amazing job with the space, such a beautiful and inspiring place to work! I’m so much looking forward to seeing where your journey together takes you and watching all your fabulous future plans unfold.
    Much love to you both, and all the best!
    Natalie xx

    (ps. stunning photos by Hanke – you are both looking gorgeous! :-))

  4. It’s great to see successful people in their jobs. Inspirational suggestions and sharing always impress me. It succeeds forever.

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