Inside The Studio: Sterling Brands


Debbie Millman, Design Group President, Sterling Brands.

We love New York City. Yes it's cliché but, every time we visit NYC we return inspired and focused!

Being based out of Los Angeles does present its challenges. The main one being; L.A. is notorious for people with poor taste, questionable style, and a lot of money. The trends that take precedence in this city are outright design genocide - we're looking at you Christian Audigier.  Los Angeles invented the "Starlet", made rehab a lifestyle, and brought us disasters such as Lindsay, Paris, and Malibu (not a socialite). Ryan Seacrest lives here too.    

Yes indeed, Los Angeles is a very peculiar place with a terrible amount of influence. 

Naturally, you can understand why we love NYC so much!  Every trip is a new lesson in fashion, design, architecture, gastronomy, and everything that makes us feel warm and fuzzy. Our last trip was a bonanza of information, inspiring meetings, and loads of fun - despite that it was very cold (which is the one thing we will complain about).

We had the great pleasure of spending time with the amazing Debbie Millman, and touring Sterling Brands' new office. Formerly based out of The Empire State building, Sterling Brands has relocated to NYC's TriBeCA neighborhood. The brand-spanking new offices feature views of lower Manhattan, tons of natural light, and a treasure-trove of fun office finds. 

Click below for a tour of Sterling's new digs, The best group shot ever, and a reading by Debbie Millman!

"Sterling Brands is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year as a leading branding consultancy, specializing in results-driven brand strategy and award-winning identity and package design work. Their offices are headquartered in New York, which also serves as the hub for Design Group President, Debbie Millman's popular podcast show: Design Matters. With a west coast office in San Francisco serving clients such as Disney and Google, the Cincinnati team servicing packaging powerhouse Procter & Gamble, and the buzzworthy, new 'Innovation station' helmed by cultural guru, DeeDee Gordon out in Los Angeles, Sterling has expanded its reach and supercharged its punch in recent years. Other notable clients of this Ominicom-owned power agency include Nestlé, Bayer, Visa, Time Warmer, T-Mobile, Abbott Laboratories and Pepsico."


Welcome to Sterling Brands

Upon walking into Sterling Brands' lobby, we couldn't help but feel like we had just stumbled into the offices of Condé Nast.  Stark, clean, and modern.  

Around the corner, however, the office reveals its true scale and personality!


Chief Creative Officer Simon Lince greets guests from the television screen! Gerard Lam and Katy Brighton follow suit.


Designers Michelle Lee and Marisa Balmori sprout great ideas and lovely smiles. A glimpse into CEO Simon William's office. We feel this way a lot.


Surprises literally everywhere.


Sterling's Digital Marketing Manager, Rochelle Fainstein, behind a a towel designed by Debbie Milllman, for One King's Lane.


Who doesn't remember Pokey?


Design Director Martin Yeo loves his orange sneakers.


Not even the plants are exempt from some finishing touches.


After poking around the office a bit, we noticed a book on a designer's desk. Debbie had us gather around for an impromtu reading of, "We Hate Everything But Boys" by Linda Lewis. Fully aware of the ensuing hilarity, we made sure this opportunity would not go undocumented. You're welcome.


Sterlingites Jeremy DiPaolo, Samantha Schroeder, Rochelle Fainstein and Martin Yeo.


I mean, how could you not laugh, after a reading like that?

The Sterling Brands staff was cool enough to pose for a group shot railroad-style.


Rounding up the troops.


Sterling Brands group shot!



The end to our visit came as we made our way to Debbie's office. The corner office affords plenty of light, which is only maximized by how white everything is. The office is tidy, but casually elegant and much like you would expect from a designer like Debbie to have.

Through the expansive windows there is a view of lower Manhattan, the Holland Tunnel (which I totally remember from Daylight with Sylvester Stallone), and Beyoncé and Jay-Z's pad.  As she coolly filled us in on this last tidbit of information, we began to think about Beyoncé + Jay Z's home life, and wondered if they've ever dined al fresco, or if Debbie has ever been invited over? Maybe we'll find out on our next trip.

Below is assorted shots taken from the office of Debbie Millman!


Our view faces a store called "TopShop" that sells 2 Men's suits for $99.95


Debbie's snow globe collection.


Chief Creative Officer, Simon Lince, found this blow-horn at a flea market and gave it to Debbie as a gift


Guess who...


Debbie along with her "People's Design Award" by The Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, for her radio show "Design Matters."

"Top 10 Things We Like About Us:

1. We have a designer who wears bright orange everyday, and Debbie is always in black - Halloween ain't got nothing on us.

2. Our President of Innovation, DeeDee Gordon, was featured in the PBS Frontline special, Merchants of Cool.

3. Our NYC office seems to be the perfect hideout for ex-pats hailing from England, Ireland, and Australia.

4. The San Fran office thinks it's crazy when anyone works past 5pm on a Friday.

5. We are very well educated on the "Reasons Puerto Rico is Great", thanks to Senior Designer, Ivan Torres.

6. By the time you read this, Debbie Millman will probably have published another mind-expanding book on branding and design.

7. Our President of Strategy, Austin McGhie, likes to bike across the entire country in his spare time.

8. Our strategists are always on the move. They can pinpoint the best place to find a margarita in most major US airports.

9. We key into ideas from everyone, from our beloved interns to life beyond the office. Cultural heartbeats and  inspiration are everywhere.

10. Our work makes the supermarket a more beautiful place, and we're really proud of that."

In-DepthIvan Navarro