Interview: Piera Gelardi, Refinery29’s Creative Director

Interview: Piera Gelardi, Refinery29’s Creative Director

Interview: Piera Gelardi, Refinery29’s Creative Director


Piera Gelardi, Creative Director Refinery29

After installing Refinery29's new meeting space, we chatted with Piera about where she finds inspiration, the house she covets, and the transformative power of color.

Photographs by Claire Esparros.

Piera Gelardi is very good at making and leaving an impression (in ways beyond just her pink hair). Her creative vision is strong and her opinions are founded on a thorough exploration of inspiration, experience and intuition. A ton of our projects are collaborative but none have been as true a partnership as this one with Piera. As Creative Director of Refinery29, it makes perfect sense that her taste is bold and fun but her pragmatic side is also rock solid. To-the-point and on-the-mark, she’s a very cool woman with great taste that loves color like a kindergartner (this is a compliment). Read our interview with her below!

If we’d never met and I was only extrapolating something about you from your Instagram I’d say you were very colorful. What value do you place on bright and bold colors in design (fashion and interiors)? Were you always drawn to color?

Color makes me happy and my eye is—and has always been—drawn to it! It has the power to transform your experience of space and your mood. My favorite color to live in is light pink, it’s very soothing and also a flattering color.

Where do you go for design inspiration? Online and IRL.

I have a lot of sources of inspiration… I love Instagram for finding ideas, designers and artists and Pinterest for cataloging ideas. My favorite sites for design inspo are Sight Unseen, It’s Nice That, Baubauhaus, and Design Everywhere. IRL design inspiration comes from everywhere! From museums and galleries to ripped posters pasted in the subway… I take so many photos daily of all the little things that trigger ideas.

What was this office space like before we came in?

When my team moved to our area, we had big plans for the area under the stairs as a flexible meeting space/creative review space. But then other things took priority and it became a sad hodge-podge dumping ground of discarded DIY chairs from photo shoots, random props and a place to store boxes and other whatnot. In short, it became a major eyesore!

What’s your favorite part of the Homepolish x Piera redesigned space?

My favorite part is how much everyone loves it and flocks to the space for casual meetings now. It feels like an inspiring, modern library.

Did any design ideas of Noa’s surprise you?

I loved Noa’s idea to hang photos from the bookcase… I’ve never seen that done before and it was a great way to geometrically break the grid and add visual interest.

As Refinery29’s Creative Director, you’ve assembled a really rad team of smart and talented people. Who’s your favorite? Just kidding – what do you love most about working with an awesome group?

Ha, I don’t play favorites. But honestly, my team is the best. I feel so lucky to get to work with such a fun, talented, ambitious group. They’re my #1 inspiration! We have a lot in the works at the moment: from zines to big events to international expansion. The best part of my job is that I’m learning something new and stretching my creativity to new areas all the time.

What did you love most about collaborating on a Homepolish project?

The team! So many fun, energetic people with excellent taste and ideas.

Did you have a eureka career moment? Is interior design a career you ever considered?? Set design is kind of an interior…

I’ve never had a eureka career moment exactly, more of a progression of steps that just seemed to make sense one after the other. I studied art and photography but being an artist felt too solitary for me and too focused on my own individual voice. I’ve always been a people person so I love collaborating and working with a team. So in college, I applied to some internships in the creative departments of magazines and landed one at CITY magazine, a small fashion, food, and design mag. The small scale of the magazine meant I got to learn about editorial, photography, design, art direction, and even advertising…it was a crash course in publishing and I found that I really loved the world of editorial storytelling. I became photo director there and when we had the idea for Refinery29, my experience really came in handy to help us launch and grow.

I’ve never considered an interior design career although I love design overall in all it’s applications!

What area do you want to design next?

In the office, I’m dying to redesign our photo studio hair and makeup area to make it a visual celebration of all the creativity that happens inside!

Have you ever visited a place and thought, “I wish my home looked exactly like this?”

Growing up, I was very inspired by my grandmother’s house in Maine. She had lived all over the world and had furniture, art, and objects from Pakistan, Libya, Taiwan, Italy, and beyond. It was so beautifully curated and fascinating. I loved that everything had an amazing story behind it and that it all fit together even though stylistically each piece was so different. Her place was super ’60s with green shag rug but I see my current home as the modern version of Nonna’s house. I have a lot of her things in my house.

The other place that super inspired me was a curator’s house in Venice featured in World of Interiors. Some of the colors in my home are inspired by that story. It also had a great eclectic mix, amazing art and interesting use of color.