West Elm Arrives in Seattle: An interview with Creative Director Vanessa Holden

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It was  a pleasure to have a creative genius join Haute Living Seattle for a  little one-on-one interview. We had a  unique opportunity to chat with the mind behind the inspiring west elm furniture brand that will be opening its first Seattle store on October 6th!

Vanessa Holden is the senior vice president and creative director of West Elm.  Ms. Holden oversees all facets of the home furnishing brand’s expression in the west elm catalog, on westelm.com, and in the brand’s store environments. She was formerly the editor-in-chief and creative director of Martha Stewart Living. West Elm opens in Seattle on October 6th at 2201 Westlake Ave. Enter the SWEEPSTAKES to win a $2000 shopping spree!

HLS: We’re so excited to have you expand your store presence in the PacNorthwest. Why did West Elm make the Seattle market its next stop?

VH: We’ve been looking for the perfect location in Seattle for a while. We have loyal customers through our catalog and website who have been telling us they want a store! Now we have the opportunity to service these customers in a new way, and introduce new customers to our brand. South Lake Union seems to be emerging as a design hub for the city and we are thrilled to be a part of that.

HLS: Who is the West Elm customer and what are his/her taste?

VH: West elm customers have diverse and eclectic tastes. Probably the one thing they agree on is that they want their home to be a reflection of them – they take great pride in their homes.  They are attracted to a mix of styles and live in various environments –from lofts and apartments to large family homes.  Our customers know good value when they see it and they choose products that are well designed, well made and well-priced.  They are especially attracted to products that have a story. They like to know the names of our designers and collaborators, or the techniques by which our handmade products are crafted. Many of them are socially conscious and do their best to live greener each day.  Our customers aren’t afraid to experiment. From decorating to entertaining, they see home as a place to express who they are.
HLS: Most popular items sold at West Elm are…..

VH: We have lots of core items that have become iconic symbols of our brand like our Parsons Desk, our Tillary Sofa and our Pintuck Bedding. Every season we have runaway hits within our seasonal collections and collaborations. Last season our unique, hand-made and one-of-a-kind Kantha quilts and pillows were a favorite amongst our customers as was a super fun yellow owl butter dish and set of measuring cups that were new in our kitchen assortment. For Winter, we have so many great new gifts and entertaining collections coming out that we know customers will love.

HLS: Fall furniture trends?

VH: There are three main furniture stories for fall. One is focused on rustic and solid woods with natural edges and organic shapes. We are also introducing a line of brightly colored and fun functional furniture that caters to our customers’ space saving needs with pieces like a collapsible table and folding chairs. Finally, there is a lot of shine with fall furniture including mirrored consoles, coffee tables, desks and side tables.

HLS: West Elm in three words is…..

VH: Global, eclectic, approachable.

HLS: Your personal favorite accent piece is the….

VH: Kantha Quilt

HLS: The one thing I advise people to do while shopping for furniture is…

VH: Take a deep breath and don’t get overwhelmed. Go with what you love. Shop the way you do fashion, with an understanding of what you like and what looks good on you. Invest in pieces that matter in your everyday life and have fun with accessories.  You can changes the whole look of a room just by switching out the pillows or lamps.

Jessica Victoria Piha is the Fashion Publicist for Blue Nile, Inc. Her catapult into fashion PR came as Public Relations Manager for high end fashion accessories brand France Luxe, L. Erickson and L. Erickson USA. Jessica was most recently a Producer for Microsoft’s Windows Media team where she helped launch Windows Media Guide 4 for Windows 7 Operating System. Prior to that, she was a Writer/Producer for both CNN Domestic and CNN International in Atlanta, Georgia

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