The Designers' Advisor Asks: Petra Arko

Petra Arko

Bergman & Mar

Petra Arko is a creative director and founder of Bergman & Mar, an interior design studio, passionate about delivering the best quality design regardless of the size of the project or budget. They work with city's premier developments such as Gasholders in King’s Cross, One Crown Place in Shoreditch, Pocket Living in Haringey and Lillie Square in Earls Court. They enjoy working with clients who are interested in challenging the status quo and happily challenge their design views to enrich their brand or their sale process. They are passionate about creative FF&E sourcing, engaging with local and European makers and artisans, always prioritising good quality designs and dedicated about uncovering most inspiring artists from around the world. Recently they have been appointed as the lead FF&E designer for the South Quay Plaza, high rise residential towers in Canary Wharf working alongside architects Foster + Partners to design a members bar in one of London's finest landmarks.

Petra Arko
Photography by Edmund Dabney

How do you ensure you have happy clients – so vital to a successful business?

Clients have needs and priorities and it is our job to manage these requests and navigate them towards a positive outcome seamlessly and professionally.

If you could only do one piece of marketing for your business, what would it be and why?

Go out, meet as many people as you can that love your energy, and tell them what you can do for them.

What role does (or has) a mentor play(ed) in your professional life?

An enormous role! Surround yourself with as many ambassadors, mentors and coaches as you can. You need people who believe in you and stand behind you with advice or emotional support. Over time you will realise who gives you the energy and support you really need. There are many coaches out there but be wary – some don’t have your best interests at heart!

Why, if ever, have you turned clients down?

I have huge trouble turning a client down. My ultimate passion is to make design better, no matter what size the job or the fee. The only time we would not take on a client is if our design values aren’t aligned.

How did you find your USP – was it immediately obvious or did you have to develop your niche?

I suppose we always had our USP, but we didn’t know how to describe it at first. It happens with time. Enjoy the process and you will figure out what suits you. Not all designers have the same vision, nor mission. Listen to your heart, your passion and what drives you – that will be what makes your business unique.

What’s your top piece of advice for running a business?

The best advice I got was that starting a business is a journey. Expect the first three years to be a learning curve, you will lose, you will win, you will hurt, but move on, grow stronger and keep going. You will be amazing one day. Be kind, and people will be kind to you. Reach out to people anywhere across industries or in interior design – you’d be surprised how open and ready people are to help.

Many thanks to Petra Arko

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