Cool Friends: Kiana Toossi    

June 23, 2023

Meet Kiana, a multi-disciplinary designer and photographer based in NYC. With key influences from ephemera and decades of the past, Kiana’s work pairs minimalism with a sense of play. With work featured in Vogue, Paper Mag & more under her belt, Kiana has begun her own design/creative agency, Holiday. We chatted with Kiana to hear how she got her start and more on her family’s roadside resort in California.

What led you to start your career as a designer?

Although the start of my formal training was in New York, I didn’t actually know what I wanted to do before starting my freshman year at Parsons, despite being surrounded by design growing up. My mom is an architect and designer, so I was always either at a job site with her or sitting at her office or joining her on sourcing trips for throw pillows and tapered candles. I didn’t realize that graphic design was the route for me (besides having way too much fun designing my high school’s yearbook) until taking a tour at Parsons and realizing that this could be a real, actual career, and not just a hobby. I started freelancing and interning at studios while in college and the rest is history!

Do you have a favorite project you've worked on so far?

I have to shamelessly plug my family’s roadside resort in California, Cuyama Buckhorn. I thought my mom was out of her mind when she came to me and said that she and her business partner were buying a trucker stop motel in the middle of nowhere, but boy oh boy it’s changed our lives in more ways than we could have imagined. It was my first full branding project on my own, and as always, it’s tough to be your own client. The property had been passed through a handful of owners since 1952, so it was lacking a cohesive identity since its establishment. Despite the town of New Cuyama having such a strong history, it was surprisingly difficult to find ephemera of the past to use as a starting point. The process challenged us to find that balance between creating an identity true to Cuyama’s roots and one that brought forth a new wave of visitors. It’s one of my favorite projects from over the years since there’s nothing that’s truly out of the scope, and it’s ultimately what made me fall in love with hospitality design. The amount of touchpoints for a hotel, restaurant, bar, coffee shop, and event spaces? Endless!

What’s your favorite part about the New York creative community?

The energy of the city just feels electric, and it feels incredible to be a small part of that. The creative community in New York feels so supportive and open, and it just feels like we all want each other to succeed (which is how it should be). There’s also a lack of gatekeeping in recent years that feels so refreshing. With businesses like Gardener openly sharing all of their financials and annual reports every year, it’s inspiring other businesses and studios to follow suit. It’s bringing forth a sense of transparency that’s so rare in this industry, and in business in general.

What’s your favorite place in NYC?

Cafe Gitane on a spring morning, a park picnic in the summer, a stroll in Central Park in the fall, and in the winter, in our apartment on a snowy day with a hot chocolate in hand.

What’s inspiring you right now?

Vintage Herman Miller promo items! I recently went to Intramural’s pop-up at Herman Miller’s flagship on Park and bought the most insane monogram duffel. I did a deep dive and couldn't find another one on the internet confirming it to be a very good purchase indeed. Everything that Intramural sourced and things I’ve found online have been so fun to look through, I’m a sucker for some good ephemera.

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Made in Brooklyn, NY