05 Nov 2010

Local Business: Aesthetic Answers

Hanging spoons (at Peregrine). Originally uploaded to flickr by aliciagriffin.

Around for (officially) just under a year, Aesthetic Answers already has under its belt two of Eastern Market’s busiest gathering places, a Hilly Award nomination and the logo for the premier and, well, only blog covering all of Capitol Hill.  Owners Amy and Scott Herbert are a creative combination with great variety and depth, offering everything under the visual sun from custom art projects, art restoration and interior decor to graphic design and branding.  This array of services allows them to work with both businesses and on projects in private homes. Their unique blend of offerings is already making an impression in the neighborhood.

The Herberts both studied fine art, which is what brought them together in 2003.  Amy, who some parents may also know from CHAW where she teaches dance, focuses more on traditional art and decorating interiors.  While studying, she found that she enjoyed and was good at many different mediums, but the real hook for her isn’t what you would think.  “What I really love … is problem solving through aesthetic mediums,” she said, which is how the company got its name.  Starting out in DC, Amy had one of those jobs that many of us have probably wondered about at one time or another: she designed window displays for Anthropologie.  In 2008, though, the stars aligned for Amy to do custom art full time.  She paints and creates sculpture from found materials and can also restore favorite pieces.

Scott’s background is more digital arts, in the realm of branding, communications and graphic design, including web sites and logos.  You have certainly seen his work at some point because for a time he was DC United’s in-house graphic designer.  Scott also lived at 5th and East Capitol while growing up, so he’s happy to be back in DC, after stints in Minneapolis and New York City, and to specifically be back on the Hill and working with clients in the neighborhood.

Anybody walking down 7th Street at Eastern Market gets a taste of Aesthetic Answers — along with your coffee and pizza.  The firm’s genesis started when a friend connected them to the owners of Peregrine.  Amy designed the interior, including custom art for the walls from reclaimed wood that was part of the counter when the shop was Murky Coffee, and the clever sign on the wall with the pear, e and a grin.  Scott was still full time elsewhere, but freelanced on the project with Amy, doing the logo and branding.

That same working relationship transferred just a few doors down when the owners of Montmartre were looking for help with a new concept in the adjoining space, which became Seventh Hill.  Scott describes the initial experience as a creative person’s ideal: “They came to us and said they wanted to open a pizza place and then showed us the space — it was a completely blank canvas.”  Amy and Scott worked with the owners from the very beginning; they helped develop the name and were even there for the invention of the dough.  Amy designed the oven and was on site as the stones, shipped from France, were installed.  In addition to the interior and exterior look and signs, Aesthetic Answers created custom art for the walls and designed a special menu that could be easily updated if new items were added.  And here’s where I may or may not have whipped out my own resume and asked for a job:  they also tasted all the pizzas and came up with the names for them.

Working together on Seventh Hill solidified the concept for Aesthetic Answers.  Its that type of project that best exemplifies the range of services the firm provides and is what Amy and Scott like best about what they can offer with their own company.  “Certainly there is a creative balance inherent in what we do,” said Scott.  “We bring our clients a broad set of skills, but there’s also some overlap that allows us to work together well.  We are not looking at things in isolation.  We get different kinds of work, ” he continued, “and that is what makes it fun for us.”

One of the projects Aesthetic Answers is currently working on is Peregrine’s latest outpost on 14th Street, NW.  From what they describe, it sounds like they’re creating yet another neighborhood destination.

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