In line with International Women’s Day, we are thrilled to welcome Creative Director at PENSON, Asta Bijeike to another Career Profile article. As a woman coming up in a male dominated sphere, we found Asta’s journey inspirational and empowering, and we are sure you will too. Take a look at Lan Yang’s Career Profile, who works alongside Asta at PENSON.
Please could you introduce yourself and your position at PENSON?
I’m Asta Bijeike, also one of the Creative Directors at PENSON. Lan and I work together leading the teams and majority of projects at PENSON. I have design-led a large portion of projects at our studio and my strengths and passions are capturing, inventing, or reinventing brands’ experience through a holistic design approach.
What was your educational background?
To start with, I studied a wood engineering, technology, and design degree. Once I had that I then moved on to do Interior Design at Kingston University. This mixture of background knowledge has supported me so well at PENSON because all these skills have made me a well-rounded designer. I have a real appreciation of the design of furniture due to my wood engineering background too.
How did you start your career as a designer?
My favourite thing as a child was to dream about how I would create and redesign my house, or my friend’s houses. I was always thinking about all the possible different design scenarios. I also used to love to build with building blocks too, so, I always knew I wanted to be a spatial designer when I grew up.
My career started as a freelance designer for graphic design projects, but soon after I moved to do freelance private residential interior design because I realised my passions and skills were stronger placed here.
While I was looking for some design inspiration, I came across PENSON and their work. I immediately liked their style and their global approach, so I applied.
How has your career progressed whilst working at PENSON?
My thirst for collaborations with other designers and my eagerness to learn means I’ve quickly progressed over my 11 years at PENSON. My cross section of knowledge and experience from my degree days has allowed me to progress very rapidly in my career.
How have you evolved as a designer whilst working at PENSON? What has influenced any changes?
Our CEO + Founder, Lee is very open to new ideas and he pioneers’ different ways of thinking. Throughout years of working closely with him, I have developed a strong design point of view and a very creative approach. He’s a great mentor.
I’ve been able to work on a range of projects across sectors, including a recent Penthouse for a private client. We looked at the project as an art house, but also as a combination and contrast of city living and bringing the natural world indoors. The resulting palette of materials was a cross section of these two contrasting ideas.
Which projects have been highlights of your design career and why?
I love to be challenged, so I treat every project completely individually to learn new things and grow as a designer. My biggest passion is collaborating with other artists – this is something I’ve always wanted to do, and I had the opportunity at PENSON to do that. I sourced and commissioned nine independent local and international artists for our project JO&JOE Paris Gentilly for Accor Group. We co-created the brand with Accor Group which meant we could come up with something completely new. Artwork is inherently part of JO&JOE’s unique design story and reflects the life and style of its guests. The result is an interior experience that harmonises the brand as a clear disrupter. I wanted PENSON to design some of the artwork too – so the PENSON team secretly feature on a few of the private bathroom walls!
PENSON’s work for Investments Company SEI was all about bringing life to financial offices. The client had an extensive contemporary art collection (The West collection), with more than 40+ individual pieces that needed to be creatively showcased across the workspace. We set about creating a workplace that spoke a consistent visual language with the purity, slickness, and edginess of London’s art galleries.
Frasers Group’s new Global Head Office was a visionary project that I loved working on. The client was very similar to PENSON in their way of thinking. They were very open to new ways of working and ideas.
What advice would you give to designers beginning their career in the commercial interiors sector?
I would advise to listen to your gut. Don’t design by aiming to please, but by voicing your own point of view. Question first how the space will feel, rather than how it will look.
Are there career ambitions which you are yet to achieve?
More and more I feel like the boundaries between design disciplines need to be blurred. We can see this already gaining pace because of the pandemic. This enables us to look at the design from a holistic point of view. I would love to experiment with different medias and of course to have some unique collaborations with even more artists and different forms of art.