We sat down with NYC based designers Samantha Polkow and Samantha Goldman of Handin Browne to dish about their contemporary style. This dynamic girl team duo are up-and-coming designers to keep an eye on.
Where does your firm’s name come from?
HB – Handin and Browne are our mothers’ maiden names! Both of our moms are incredible, strong women with a great sense of style. Our name is a tribute to the ladies who sparked our love of everything design!
You met at The New York School of Interior Design - what drew you to each other?
SP – We actually didn’t meet until Goldman’s last semester, where I intentionally grabbed a seat next to her in a design studio. We clicked instantly. Everyone jokingly made fun of us for the rest of semester because we were always together…Sam & Sam!
SG – I actually think I intentionally grabbed the seat next to her! But either way, we haven’t separated since.
How do you approach projects as a duo? Do you work together on all project or do you divide up the projects based on your interests and specialties?
SP – We started our business doing all parts of the design process together but soon realized where our strengths lie. Goldman has such a creative imagination and is great at coming up with inventive floorplans.
SG – Polkow is an encyclopedia of furniture and fabric!! I am able to describe anything I want and she instantly knows where to source it. It has organically allowed us to focus on different aspects of the job, but we always consult each other.
You’re based in NYC - what is your favorite neighborhood to shop in? Do you have a favorite local coffee spot or restaurant?
HB – Favorite neighborhood to shop in is Soho & now Noho where our new office is, for clothes and the home. We love Clic Soho, Calypso Home, & Cote À Coast. SG loves a good cup of black coffee and tends to go to her neighborhood spots, City of Saints or Mad Man Espresso. SP has been loving Honey Brains for juices and tea.
You do most of your work in NYC, Westchester and the Hamptons. What style differences do you see in these three areas?
HB – We try to keep the basics of our design aesthetic the same in all areas, using streamlined pieces with touches of vintage and traditional to keep the space contemporary but timeless. However, the architecture in the different locations gives us direction. We had an amazing client in Larchmont who moved into an old colonial house built in 1923 with original plaster walls and archways. While the style lent itself more towards the traditional, we added modern touches with an oversized photograph from ArtStar that took up an entire wall in the dining room! We love the loft style of living in NYC and incorporate more modern elements and integrated storage. As for the Hamptons, it is just fun! We love to keep things casual and allow all areas to act as entertaining spaces. We also incorporate a little more color and bright art pieces to bring the home to life!
In your view, how does art impact the home? How does art impact the workplace environment?
HB– Art brings all of our design work to life. It is the finishing touch that showcases personality and allows a homeowner’s guests to learn a little bit more about them. Spaces just don’t look finished without great art. We feel this way about the workplace as well! Looking at art you love is calming and exciting all at once. And if you can bring a smile to a hectic workday, it is worth it!
Do you have any morning routines or rituals that help start your day?
HB – Every morning, we read all of our emails from the night before. It helps to start the day with a clean inbox. We also received great advice from a fellow designer: Check in with your clients on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Mondays, tell your clients what you plan to do that week, Wednesday, update them on the progress, and Friday, tell them all that has been completed. This advice has helped our relationships with our clients tremendously.
What does your “typical” day look like? Do you mostly meet with clients at their home/business, at your office, or out somewhere else?
HB – A lot of designers would probably say that no day in this business is “typical,” but our overall weeks do look a lot alike. We are out of the office 1-2 days every week either visiting our workroom to check on custom pieces or heading to a client’s home to manage construction or oversee an install. The rest of the week we are either in the office sourcing products and managing projects or hunting in showrooms for fabrics and new furniture pieces. We are always on the lookout for the next beautiful thing! As for client meetings, we often meet at their home to see our selections in the correct light.
What is your favorite summer vacation spot? Where do you escape to in the winter?
HB – SP enjoys the Hamptons all summer long. Her and her husband spend most of their summer weekends at their family’s home in Bridgehampton. SG’s favorite spots are Italy with her family and Tel Aviv with her fiancé. We both tend to escape to Miami in the winter, sometimes even overlapping on family trips by mistake!
If you had to choose 3 words to describe your ideal client what would they be?
HB – Trusting, Decisive and Fun!
How has your interior design style changed over the years?
HB – We have really influenced each other in our design style over the past couple of years. SG has always had very modern style when it comes to interiors, but now has grown to love traditional pieces, adding them throughout her designs whether it is in light fixtures, an accent chair or accessories. SP had a more classic interior design style that has evolved to be very modern, loving clean lines and architectural elements as inspiration in her design.
What questions do you ask a client who wants a full design makeover? How does the process differ when the client wants to combine some of their existing pieces with new furniture or art?
HB –Whether it is a full design project starting from scratch or combining client’s existing pieces with new purchases, we have to ask the same questions. As a designer, you have to get very personal with a client and develop a strong level of trust on both sides. No matter the project, we are going to learn a lot about you down to how you organize your underwear drawer!
What are some tips to consider when selecting art for the home?
HB – If you love it, then there is always a place for it. Our client’s always want us to source artwork for them, but we feel that art is a very personal purchase and an investment for life. Every piece of artwork should elicit a feeling for the owner.
What was the best gallery or museum show you saw in the last 3 months?
HB –Anything & everything at Voltz Clarke Gallery!
What are your top 5 favorite artworks on ArtStar right now?