Every successful design duo has a great origin story. Ray & Charles Eames. Eero & Aline Saarinen. Even PB&J, for that matter: iconic pairings with their own taste that make the whole greater than the sum of its parts. Design duo Pierce & Ward are no different. Louisa Pierce and Emily Ward met at an East Village bar in 2012 and a magic partnership came out of it. Though neither had formal design training, they found they had complementary aesthetics in common and launched Pierce & Ward with their friend, rock star and model Karen Elson, as their first client. 

Over the next few years, they exploded on the design scene, particularly with a certain set of Hollywood royalty — notable clients have included Leonardo DiCaprio, Brie Larson, Kate Hudson, and Dakota Johnson. These days, the duo is based across the country, with Emily living in LA with her actor husband, Giovanni Ribisi, and Louisa in Nashville with her husband, music critic Austin Scaggs. Their new book from Rizzoli covers their journey as only they can, with richly patterned pages, luxe photography, and the unique stories behind their work. Read on to learn more about the duo and how they develop their distinctive designs.

Photo: Lindsey Rome. Background courtesy of Country Floors.

What’s it like working as a design duo, especially when you live in different cities? How do you coordinate your projects from LA and Nashville, respectively?

It can definitely prove challenging but we always make it work. We are both co-owners and best friends so we are constantly FaceTiming and on the phone. Location and distance have never stopped us and part of what we love about our jobs is the travel! We are forever inspired by new cities, new projects, and each other.  

Many of your interiors have a Maximalist flair, and you talk about “organized abundance.” How do you ensure that spaces are full but not overdone or oversaturated?

We always try to strike a balance of filing a space with pieces that make it feel lived in. Our spaces feel organically full as though our clients have curated everything in the room for years. We love to use books and layer decor and lighting to achieve this feel.

Photo: Jonny Marlow

Who are some of your design inspirations? Are there other designers whose work speaks to your particular style? 

We have always pulled inspiration from William Morris. Our greatest influence and inspiration has always been Louisa’s late mother-in-law, Carmella Scaggs. She was an incredible designer and force of nature.  

Many of your spaces use distinctive wallpapers. How do you decide on a particular pattern, and how can people go bold with their walls without overdoing it?

We are constantly sourcing new and vintage wallpapers. A constant hobby for both of us is mood boarding with patterns and paint colors. Typically we design around a paper and let it inspire choices of furniture and paint.


Photo: Jonny Marlow

Gallery walls and unique artwork appear in many of your spaces. Who are some of your favorite artists, and how do you prefer to shop for art?

Artwork is a major element of the spaces we design and we take a lot of time curating pieces. We adore vintage and amateur works of art and source from lots of different places.  

Any tips for shopping vintage and antique pieces? Do you search with a specific mission in mind, or do you tend to find inspiration along the way as you search?

We look anywhere and everywhere; the world really is your oyster when it comes to unique pieces. We definitely love to find inspiration along the way when sourcing and one amazing find can dictate an entire space. There are of course other scenarios where we are hunting for a piece with specific specifications. Treasure hunting is our favorite part of the job. 

Photo: Jonny Marlow

What are some of your favorite vintage and antique searches when you’re shopping for unique pieces online?

Vintage lighting is something we are constantly searching for. We also love hunting for anything burl and lots and lots of vintage art!

Are there any dream projects you’d love to have one day? What’s one room you’d love to be able to design?

A dream project would definitely be to design a boutique hotel. We love taking on a new challenge and keeping ourselves inspired!

Lead photo by Edward Badham

October 21, 2020

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