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Elena Miska & Tom Sears featuring the Bianca chair

Published on 16 Nov 2020

Elena Miska & Tom Sears - A couple of creatives inspired by their outside interests and influences

Where do you live?

We live in Clinton Hill in Brooklyn, New York.

Where were you born?

Elena: I was born on the East Coast, but grew up in Sonoma County, California.
Tom: And I’m from a small town called Grantham in the UK, a couple hours north of London.

What's your occupation?

Tom: I’m a designer with a focus on interactive and digital design, and currently I work as a Design Director at Squarespace.

Elena: I'm an independent graphic designer and art director. I started my own practice, Miska Studio, at the beginning of the year. For obvious pandemic-related reasons, it hasn't gone exactly according to plan, but I'm excited about what's in store for the future.

What brought you to New York?

Tom: Elena brought me here! Elena has always had a love for the city, and initially for me it was hard to think of anywhere I would rather be than California. The first year was particularly tough for me in New York, but now I can’t imagine being anywhere else. It’s the epicenter of so many things that we both enjoy.

Elena: I grew up in California, which is a place I love and will always feel like home, but as Tom said, I just had an itch to get to New York City — a place I felt very connected to in a different way. I was drawn in by the culture and vibrancy and people, and thought it would also be a great place to do more of the kind of work I wanted to be doing.

What was it about the Bianca chair that caught your attention?

Elena: Tom and I really love bold yet elegant design, and I think those same qualities are found in many of Orior's pieces. The combination of the unique form of the chair, plus the vibrant red color just seemed very us.

How do you bring your digital elements of design into everyday life?

Tom: Personally I like to do the opposite. For me it’s more a question of how do I bring my everyday life interests and influences into the work I'm doing. As a creative with a focus on digital design, I spend a lot of time looking at different forms of design and interaction, but I try to keep a fresh perspective for my work and the work of my team. It’s very easy to be influenced by what happens to be ‘trending’ without looking at the bigger picture, and I think that using other forms of inspiration to inform the work that I do is important.

Elena: I agree with Tom. It feels much more creatively fulfilling to take what’s happening in real life or in culture, and apply it to our work. There’s so much one can look at online, but unless you really dig, it’s quite often a sea of sameness. We aim to combat that by bringing our own real-life interests, viewpoints, and cultural references into the work that we do, in the hope of creating something distinctive.

Where do you go / what do you do for inspiration?

Tom: Traveling has been a really important part of what both Elena and I love to do, and we’ve been lucky enough to travel to many different places over the past few years. It’s really inspiring to be surrounded by a different culture in an unfamiliar surrounding. I think we are both hoping to be able to start getting away again next year or as soon as it’s safe to do so.

Elena: Yes, we've been pretty cooped up for the majority of the year like many people, but fortunately we do love our home and our Brooklyn neighborhood. It’s amazing to get away and feel rejuvenated and inspired by places that are different from our everyday, but since we can't do that right now, we've been putting lots of love and care into our home so that it's an inspiring place to work, and a calming place to relax. It definitely feels like an extension of ourselves.

Elena, what is your favorite project you have worked on and why?

Elena: I'm honestly more excited about future projects than anything. I decided to go out on my own because I wanted to be able to truly choose the types of projects I'm involved with. I want to work with organizations, platforms, brands, and individuals that are doing something meaningful in the world — that help people, that add beauty, or that have a unique vision or product. I used to be a ballet dancer, so a dream project of mine would be to work in some capacity with a dance or performing arts institution.

What hobbies do you have and is there anything you have picked up during quarantine?

Tom: I have a lot of different interests, but I very much enjoy anything involving two wheels; Cycling in various forms, and over the past eight years I’ve had a growing passion for riding and maintaining vintage motorcycles. I think fixing them allows me to solve problems tangibly with my hands and without being connected to a screen or the internet as we often all are too much. It feels good to zone out and fix or restore something to give it a new lease on life.

Elena: I do art projects when I can, and over the past several months I've been doing a good amount of paper marbling. The process is very therapeutic, and the output is truly mesmerizing. I'm also aiming to do more design outside of the graphic realm. Tom and I have been talking about perhaps collaborating on something together that's a mix of art and design — something that mixes my love of art, and Tom’s background in industrial design. More to come…!