Designer Duos: Mothers & Daughters

These design teams keep it in the family.

Courtesy of Thea Home; Photographed by Joshua Olley for Konekt Furniture.

Have you ever considered going into the family business? While we often look up to our parents and their careers growing up, it's actually quite rare for people to go into the same profession. However when your parental figure has a cool, creative job in a field like design, it makes sense that you might be attracted to following in their footsteps.

But would you take the next step and actually work with your parent full-time? While your interactions might not be the same as typical co-workers, your shared experiences and relationship can create a unique environment for collaboration.

In honor of Mother's Day, we wanted to highlight a couple of cool mother-daughter design teams that are creating amazing works. These women combine their shared love for aesthetics, along with their unique skills and generational perspectives, to produce beautiful spaces and furniture pieces that we can't get enough of.

Mother And Daughter Designer Duos
Photographed by Heidi's Bridge for Konekt Furniture; Photographed by Joshua Olley for Konekt Furniture.

Helena & Natasha Sultan of Konekt Furniture

If you're looking for bold modern designs, then you need to take a look at the collections from Konekt Furniture. After Helena Sultan founded the company in 2015, she later had her daughter Natasha join as a fellow creative director two years later.

"I had been working in contemporary and vintage jewelry, and wanting to go into jewelry design,” says Natasha Sultan. “When my mom started Konekt, I realized that my own interest in designing went beyond jewelry, and was even more suited to larger scale pieces. I was fascinated with the materials and shapes that my mom was able to experiment with through her work, and I wanted to explore that too.”

Deciding to work with family is not an easy decision. However Helena felt like her daughter was a natural collaborator. “Even though Natasha wasn’t working with me when I launched Konekt in 2015, I always trusted her sensibilities,” shares Helena Sultan. “She was my go-to person for feedback. We share the same aesthetic and passion for design. We always talked about the possibility of working together, and in the summer of 2017, it just felt like the right time.”

While the mother-daughter duo grew up in different eras, Natasha was always influenced by her mother's aesthetic. "I was introduced to design by my mom,” she says. “She really imparted on me her own fascination with design — particularly with sculptural forms and texture. Ever since I was little, I internalized her incredible eye, how she curated one-of-a-kind, eclectic pieces in our home, or pointed out visual details that no one else would pick up on.”

So what is their creative process like when working together now? "We’re constantly throwing ideas around to each other, presenting our own iterations of a common inspiration," Natasha explains. "Often times when one presents an idea, the other is able to add the missing link that pulls it together. It’s our version of finishing each others’ sentences. From there, we really work seamlessly to develop the final piece. The Armor Collection is our first design collaboration."

Mother And Daughter Designer Duos
Photographed by Heidi's Bridge for Konekt Furniture.

Of course, separating the lifelong roles of mother and daughter from their newer relationship as co-workers isn't so simple. “That can be a challenge, especially being the mother,” notes Helena. “I do try to keep the roles separate, but I must admit at times they cross over. It’s natural to fall back into our old patterns. We are also partners with my husband, Eric, who handles the business aspect of Konekt, so that adds a whole other layer of family dynamics.”

“It’s definitely a blurred line,” says Natasha. “Because of our mother-daughter relationship, we lack the formalities of a normal work environment, which has its pros and cons." She adds, "Mostly pros.”

Helena echoes her daughter. "We’re very passionate about our design work and I really love when we get so engaged in the design process, and just sharing that excitement with her,” she shares. 

Overall, the pair has loved designing together and bringing both their work and rapport to a new stage. "Our relationship has expanded to another level where we’re relating to each other as creative partners," explains Helena. "This has really brought on a deeper layer of mutual respect, and more open communication."

“The design process can be so personal, and working with someone who knows you so well — who probably knows you better than anyone — and shares the same eye and aesthetic is pretty special," elaborates Natasha. "Envisioning something together, before it takes any type of recognizable form to others, is really exciting.” 

Mother And Daughter Designer Duos
Courtesy of Thea Home.

Thea Segal & Dorianne Passman of Thea Home, Inc.

For Thea Segal and Dorianne Passman, the co-owners and mother-daughter duo behind interiors firm Thea Home, Inc., design runs in the family.

“I know this may sound ridiculous to some people but it’s in our genes,” shares Passman. “Thea’s mother — my grandmother — has incredible taste and an eye for design. She is a fine artist and her small apartment in Tel Aviv is a true inspiration.”

Segal took her natural gift for interior design and worked over 25 years in the field, while also creating her own company, Thea Home, Inc. “My mother’s work definitely inspired me to get into the business and still inspires me to this day,” says Passman. “She never went to design or architecture school and she is a spacial genius with an incredible attention to detail. She is also daring and original and most of the time way ahead of the curve in trends.”

Passman originally didn't intend to go into design as well. Instead, she initially pursued a career as a chef. “After I came back from my year at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, I worked as a cook for almost a year. I realized pretty quickly that a chef’s life wasn’t for me,” she explains. “I wanted to be more entrepreneurial and take my destiny into my own hands. I asked my mom if I could join forces with her and it wasn’t an immediate yes."

Instead of handing her the job, Segal made sure her daughter could prove herself to take on the position. "She had me write a business plan explaining my potential role in the firm and how I would benefit Thea Home," Passman says. "She was impressed by my efforts and accepted.”

Mother And Daughter Designer Duos
Courtesy of Thea Home.

Now, the pair work hand-in-hand as co-owners of the company. “We are both there during the interview process with clients, understanding what they might want and need out of their homes. We are very collaborative on all fronts but we take leads in different areas,” shares Passman. “Thea is more on the architectural and space planning. I am more responsible of the material selection, furnishing, and vision for the space. We both run everything by one another, and definitely argue about certain ideas. But it always gets us to an amazing result and to projects we are proud of."

Keeping their relationship strictly professional obviously comes with some difficulty. “The line is very blurry, but I would say first and foremost we are, of course, mother and daughter,” explains Passman. “There is no getting away from it. What’s amazing about that though is that we are never in competition with one another. We are always empowering each other to be the best that we can and picking up where the other one might lack.”

Their favorite part of being co-collaborators? “All the time we get to spend with one another! It sometimes makes working not feel like work at all. I also have a 14-month-old son so the fact that we both get to spend so much time with him is pretty special," says Passman.

“Since working together, we’ve grown closer and stronger,” she continues. “We respect each other on the professional level being that we both get to see each other in that environment first hand. We also get to take out our disagreements and frustrations with one another on petty things like whether or not a sofa should be pink.”

As Lonny's Editor, you can find me writing about interior tips, scouting out the coolest new spots, and rallying behind amazing female entrepreneurs. You can reach me at shelby.wax@livingly.com or on Instagram @shelbywax.
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