When we think of the phrase “power couple,” we imagine relationships that have forged impressive innovations and ideas—all done with love. In our February franchise Partners in Design, we’ll showcase a few of our favorite creative couples and hear, in their own words, how they keep the spark in both their working and romantic relationships.
Even before they moved in together, Fabiana Faria and Helena Barquet had a space to call their own. Coming Soon, their much-beloved design shop located in New York City’s Chinatown is the product of the couple’s combined imagination, curatorial prowess, and talent for transforming vintage finds into seriously covetable pieces. The space—which has recently expanded to include a furniture showroom—is a vibrantly hued, whimsically decorated interior, which Barquet notes has been described as feeling like “your best friend’s living room.”
It might just be the intimacy of Coming Soon, apparent in its precise curation and artful vintage reupholstering, that makes it stand out in a sea of design shops. The couple behind it—who are getting hitched this year on Valentine’s Day(!), on top of the Empire State Building, no less—have a serious eye for style, and through their business, have forged an even stronger partnership. You might even say they’re a perfectly designed match.
Below, they share how their relationship has shaped their work—and vice versa.
How did you meet? How did you decide to open the shop?
Faria: We met and started working together in a gallery the year we fell in love—about 2011, 2012.
Barquet: Shortly thereafter we felt like it would be lovely to do something together.
Faria: We started working together in 2012, and 2013 we opened the store.
Barquet: Looking back on it, it seems like…whoa. There was a little bit of naïvité. I’ve never worked in retail—I’ve never even worked in a store.
How do you balance work with your relationship?
Barquet: There are definitely times when you know you’re in the thick of it. Like, the holidays are coming and you’re barely noticing one another unless someone coughs—then you’re like, “What are you doing? Are you taking vitamins?”
Faria: After big bursts of working like that we make sure to take breaks for ourselves. We try to carve out time just for is. It’s a very social job, so that’s a fine line too, where you always have people around you. We both love the store so much, so it’d be hard to compartmentalize it and be like, “Let’s not talk about the store.” Those moments are rare.
Barquet: It literally feels like your baby. The fact that we live 45 minutes from the store and we’re doing that commute, together or separately, there is a nice break when you’re sitting on the subway by yourself. That kind of gives it a break. By the time we get uptown and have a glass of wine, I’m in a different place and can talk about it in a different way. That’s important—sometimes you need perspective.
How do you take time for yourselves?
Faria: We both work six days, but our day off is different from the other one. There’s a little bit of a break, and then when we take days off together, it’s really nice.
Barquet: We like to go to museums together. Now that we have the store as opposed to coming from it when we were in art, it was almost like doing it for work. I like the feeling.
Faria: I love it when we go to the flower market—we’ll meet there and grab flowers for a shoot here and go to KazuNori, because they open at 11:30, so get there on time and eat crazy amounts of hand rolls. Then we’ll go to Risa [Nishimori]’s studio and get ceramic mugs from her. I get that that’s work, but I feel really lucky that’s my job.
What does the other person bring to the table?
Faria: She has a really great sense of color. The color thing comes mostly from her. I like ugly colors—sometimes you need that ugly color.
Barquet: It’s not an ugly color—but maybe it’s not as obvious. It definitely adds to a bit of the tension that’s very much needed.
Faria: I’ll buy more of the bones. I’ll bring junk and she’ll make it into something nice with the color that she picks.
What advice would you give creative couples before they start a business?
Barquet: It’s really easy to fall in love with some people. The hard part is the relationship. There is sometimes these arguments or you have disagreements about how much to work or what you should be doing—but these are arguments you could be having just at home, arguing about who takes out the garbage. You’re just doing that also at your job.
Faria: I think that’s why it took us so long to think about getting married, because it felt very much like a marriage, because you’re signing documents, and you know there’s this thing dependent on both of you, and you can’t just walk away. You can’t just walk out the door. If you’re at that level of commitment, then you can do this. Especially in design, there’s a lot of couples. We work with many of our vendors who are couples. I think it’s part of a lifestyle. You’re always thinking about home, and home things when you’re with your partner. It’s a nice thing to share.
What’s your favorite thing about working with each other?
Faria: I like that I don’t have a world that doesn’t have her in it, basically. That would just feel weird. I like that we share everything.
Barquet: I think one of the nicest things is the level of trust. Obviously, you trust your partner more than anyone, so that’s a nice thing to have at work. Also, your sense of commitment is a beautiful thing to share in something tangible.
What’s your pet peeve about working with the other person?
Faria: Out of my pet peeves, a lot of good things have grown. I used to get a little upset if I couldn’t arrange the store, and I’d come in the next day and see she’d rearranged it all. At the same time, it’s freed me up and I’ve learned to let go. I wish, sure, that she’d respond more to emails…and now it’s passed to text messages as well.
Barquet: My pet peeve would be…sometimes you can be a little brash. She sees something she wants a certain way, and it comes off in the delivery. It gets so personalized because it’s your home and it’s your partner, and you can forget sometimes, wait, we are still in a professional setting.
Faria: That’s a great learning thing for any relationship—how to communicate with respect and always having respect for the other person.
See more inspiring shops:
Beautifully Designed Restaurant Interiors—and What We Learned From Them
Inside a Music Company’s Cool, Colorful Studio in Brooklyn
Scandi Design Studio Hem Has Opened Its First U.S. Showroom