Hen’a Yadav, Principal at Studio Carter, speaks to The Industry Leaders about her award-winning career as an interior designer and creative director for spectacular projects across the world, starting with royal palaces in the Middle East, to a boutique lifestyle-driven firm in LA.
How did you end up sitting where you are today?
It’s an uncanny chain of events that led me to this exact moment. I was born in Bombay, raised in Katmandu, and studied in Dubai, followed by Basel. With this unusual upbringing and paradoxical perspective on different cultures, I became curious about the various environments we live in and how they can mould us. Thus, my innate drive to study interiors led me to Montreal, to where I came with the ambition to revolutionise and rethink the word ‘lifestyle’.
After graduating, I started my career in Dubai by designing royal palaces. The opulence of that lifestyle led me to seek a role specialising in hospitality. I continued to explore different design communities and cultures by working in Hasselt, followed by Hong Kong and Singapore, to quench my creative curiosity with fabulous mentors along the way.
After 17 years of this nomadic, creative journey, I had seamlessly accumulated a vast and versatile portfolio; a unique set of experiences. It all culminated in a fabulous role in Los Angeles, where I am now a principal at a boutique, a lifestyle-driven firm called Studio Carter, and soon to be spearheading the London office later this year.
What kind of work does your role involve?
I feel like I am a conductor of a hand-picked orchestra of skilled technicians and artists around the globe. My role is to unify the creative flow, set a clear vision, execute explicit directions, listen, and guide the teams through the different design and documentation phases to produce outstanding and compelling boutique hotels.
What gets you excited about your industry?
Honestly, the fact that I have the power to elevate the human experience by using my creativity as a mechanism to bring about mad, maverick moments within an individual’s life.
What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?
Jacob Bronowski states that ‘Progress is the exploration of our own error.’ I’ve successfully embraced and grown through my errors, and look forward to positive mistakes.
How do you support aspiring leaders in your field?
I listen. A creative dialogue needs active listening, reflecting and mastering the art of feeling the experience of the other as if it were their own.
How do you keep up to speed with what's happening in your industry?
Through the magic of authentic human dialogues! Be it networking events, Zoom dates or one-on-one dinner dialogues; I show up and cherish them all.
What was the most challenging project or situation you've overcome?
Language barriers in projects based out of China, as I pride myself on human conversations. I now use technology and universal human gestures to distil and filter the essence of my message without looking at it as a challenge, but rather as an opportunity to expand my skill set.
You finish work today and step outside the office to find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?
Set up my own lifestyle hospitality brand for hotels, and continue to do what I do!
What do you see as the key ingredients for failure?
This little monster can cause havoc.
If you had one wish for the future of your industry, what would it be?
It would be to teleport to the project sites so that I could be on-site in a fraction of a moment!
What book or podcast should everyone know about?
Enigmas of Chance: An Autobiography - Mark Kac.
How should people connect with you?