Connecting with our Community: Lewis Heathcote of NICOLEHOLLIS

Studio Designer enlisted an array of notable design business leaders for our special Connecting with our Community webinar series that revealed how their companies are managing the dramatic changes in the business landscape. Studio Designer CEO Keith Granet engaged in fascinating interviews on a weekly basis and we’re highlighting his enlightening discussion with Lewis Heathcote, the CEO of renowned design firm NICOLEHOLLIS.

Lewis Heathcote generously shared the details of how he and his wife principal designer Nicole Hollis run their design powerhouse firm in San Francisco, an AD100 firm with acclaimed work in both the residential and hospitality spaces. With 85 employees and a thriving practice, Lewis shared that he is “grateful and blessed” and uses this positive mentality to manage the firm’s operations with all the unexpected changes taking place. He revealed that his main priority was keeping everyone employed by sustaining payroll and keeping up with the exponential growth of the practice in terms of employees and increased project load.

Lewis found that dealing with the shelter at place orders without affecting the business was a challenge. While he prefers the collaborative nature and serendipitous opportunities of office work, he understands that “the genie is out of the bottle” and now remote work is a viable option for his staff and is open to have a hybrid, flexible work model moving forward. Some of the advice he offered to designers was ensure that no project is more than 10% of your output, find high net-worth clients in diverse locations, and use contracts to set expectations.

With their hospitality practice currently at an all-time high, Lewis shared that work in that sector is good but may slow down with the significant changes in travel habits and restrictions. He thinks that designers overall will make more thoughtful design decisions with the changes in lifestyles but urges designers to known their worth and value to have confidence in their talent and work. Lewis imparted to webinar attendees, “The whole community means a lot to us and we really have felt a part of more in the past few weeks more so than ever before. We really value that.”

View the recording of the Lewis Heathcote interview here, check out the full collection of Connecting with our Community webinars, or read a blog post about the entire series.