5. März 2020

Petra Gendt: Say “Yes” and many “Yes’s” will follow

The Swedish-born Petra Gendt is co-founder of the design studio „All The Way To Paris“, or short ATWTP, which is based in Copenhagen.

Together with her friend and colleague, the Danish Tanja Vibe, Petra works on visual communication concepts and storytelling.

Petra and Tanja met in the mid-nineties at the Danish Design School. Back then, they were asked if they wanted to do creative direction for a magazine from Copenhagen. They said “Yes” without having any experience in editorial design. That was the starting point to many more “Yes’s” that followed. In 2004, they founded their studio “All The Way To Paris“. The name was supposed to wake associations in people’s minds.

“I believe it is important especially for our work to go »All The Way«, to really consider the details and small things”, Petra tells us. Meanwhile, the studio works for notable brands such as Skageragk, for which they created beautiful handmade crockery in a Japanese pottery shop.

Besides her job as a designer, the 47 year old holds seminars, for example at the renowned Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles. Petra is married and a mother of four. Her biggest dream would be to work for Vivienne Westwood, Barack Obama or the Dalai Lama. Her family has a holiday home close to Malmö, where they are direct neighbors to Hugh Grant, so she sometimes takes morning swims with the smart Brit.

In line with “The White Cube Art Project” Petra herself is our star standing in front of the camera. For our photo shoot, she chose a very natural look, with an oversized Asian style top and her much-loved flip-flops. Very unpretentious, she wants to learn everything about us, before we get the chance to ask her any questions.

Petra, how does it feel to stand alone in the White Cube?

I am excited to meet all of you. I am very curious, to be honest. I am a very curious person anyway.

Do you have many white walls at home?

Yes, I do. I live minimalism, but I also love the beauty of things and materials very much.

What does white mean to you as a background, on which you can start creating something new?

White and the White Cube makes everything irrelevant disappear. It makes you take away all the things that you do not need, and that I find very interesting. It is a way to free your mind from everything unnecessary.

Petra, tell us more about your work.

My partner Tanja Vibe and I work together in our own design studio called „All The Way To Paris“. We both are creatives. We see us as an inventive force. We do graphic design for other companies, but we also do artistic work. I think what makes us special is the mix of both and the fact that we can really be free in what we do. People who book us also put their trust in us. Our team consists of five designers now, coming from all quarters – we are very international.

You work together with your best friend. What would you recommend to other women who plan to start a business with friends?

The key to our successful collaboration is that we share everything. We share the burden, the hard work, the private stuff, all the joy and crazy situations, but also the economic side to our business always 50/50.

When Tanja does something, I am always a part of it, and when I take care of a project, we will in the end always split the turnout. We trust each other and do not hide anything from one another. We go forward together!

What inspires you? Life itself, I think. People, travelling.

You have four kids. What was the best advice they gave you?

I was quite tired in the last couple of days. Sometimes you are tired, even if you have the most creative and cool job in the world and even if you are a happy person. Then you say things like „Oh, I will go on doing something different“ and then I hear my kids say „But mum, it’s your baby, you love what you do, you have to go on“. It is more indirectly. I like these kinds of conversations with my kids, it means a lot to me.

What do you love most about your work?

The fact that we work together. Tanja and I have worked together for so many years, almost 20, and I feel this energy and synergy between us. I draw a line and Tanja continues it. That is the secret.

What makes you laugh?

Many things, Tanja and I laugh all the time. In our studio, we generally laugh a lot.

What makes you angry?

I am not often angry. Small things usually do not make me angry. I am angry with politicians.

What do you believe in?

Kindness is important, always and everywhere. And you have to stay curious.

Was it a hard decision for you to found your own company?

No, because I always wanted to do that. When you are lucky enough to find someone with whom you can imagine to collaborate, you become a team. Tanja is my partner in crime. And imagine that we also had children, both of us! People keep asking us what it is like to be a female studio. Why do people only ask women these kinds of questions?

What makes your heart beat faster?

Seeing my children become great human beings with their own thoughts, opinions and dreams. Seeing a piece of art that moves me. At work, when we managed to create something special. My heart also beats faster with anger, when people only act out to comply with their little narcissistic concerns.

Is there something you cannot live without?

My family. And without black tea and a glass of eco-friendly produced wine.

What are your rough edges?

I can be rather impatient, when work does not go my way or when things take longer than expected. I can also be pessimistic and see the dark side of things. Not often, however, I do speak my negative thoughts as well.

What are you afraid of?

The honest and quick answer is probably that I am afraid of death. With time to think, my answer would be more nuanced. I am afraid to loose someone dear. Still, I always think positive and hope for the best.

What is your favorite interior piece in your home?

My art collection and my three-meter long table that my husband, who is an architect, has built for us. We work there, and host dinners for friends, and the kids do their homework there.

How do you align your job and your family life?

Being a working mum, I have spent many years worrying that I might not spend enough time with my kids, but I think that is more a reflection of my own discrepancy. I believe that kids with parents who are happy about their job and fulfilled are blessed. Balance can also mean to focus on hard work but then to know when to recover and spend time with the family.

Resting is not always the solution, sometimes it is activity and energy. I also believe that in our digital times balance can also be achieved through digital detox.

What is typically Petra?

That is hard to answer for me… maybe that I am kind, creative and hopefully inspiring for others.