Holly Hollenbeck | Designer Spotlight

This week’s Designer Spotlight features Holly Hollenbeck from HSH Interiors. Holly has been running her own interior design firm for over 15 years and loves making her clients’ design aspirations a reality.  She covers a range of styles from East Coast traditional to West Coast contemporary and we are excited to be able to share a bit more about her design firm in this spotlight!

Why did you decide to become a designer?

When I was young, I used to steal my mother’s Architectural Digest magazines and read them cover to cover. And when other girls were drawings horses or dresses, I was drawing houses.  I have always been artistic and a lover of beauty in all forms, from fashion to fine art to dance.  I had a round-about career: after college I worked at an investment bank, then a consulting firm, and finally an internet start-up before deciding to take a step back and really do something I loved.  Eventually, I went to UC Berkeley Extension’s Interior Design program, got a part-time job with a small designer in San Francisco, and became hooked on interior design. I established my own firm, HSH Interiors, in 2002.

What is your favorite part about designing?

I love learning about my clients, their lifestyles, interests, collections, and personal taste.  A great house should be a reflection of its owners. I also love the hunt….searching out that just right vintage piece to finish a room.

What would you say your style of design is?

Modern with a vintage twist. I like clean modern lines, but I think vintage pieces add soul.

Can you tell us about your personal brand?

Aside from our interior design firm, we also have a retail space on Clement Street in San Francisco.  We represent around 15 lines, mainly in accessories, lighting, and small home furnishings. This has allowed us to explore creative, niche brands from around the world and bring them to San Francisco shoppers.  The store is an extension of our vision and brand. Alongside the store, we have our own line of hand-stitched cashmere sweaters called HSHxSensei.  As we say, “if you can dream it, we can stitch it”.  This has become a really fun creative venture, which combines my love of fashion with interiors work. I am known around town as a fashionista, and if I were not working in interiors, would want to work in fashion.

What would be one piece of advice you’d give someone starting their own interior design career?

I never worked for a large firm, and wish I had.  I often say I’m “flying by the seat of my pants”!  But so far, it’s working, and we have been growing steadily since we were founded.  I suppose my background in banking and start-ups helped me with organizational and business sense.  But I never watched someone run a larger interior design firm from the inside.  I do think a few years working in a larger firm before going out on my own would have been informative, and I would recommend that to someone who is just starting out.

What is your favorite color palette to work with?

Oh, that’s a hard one.  I just love color!  Many of our projects, do seem to incorporate blues and/or blue-greens, which probably means there is some sort of bias from me at work!

Thanks for joining us here today, Holly! It was great to learn more about you and your design companies.