TEXT BY VIRGINIA M. WRIGHT
PHOTOGRAPHED BY DANIELLE SYKES
While riding out the pandemic at her family’s new seasonal home on Islesboro, Holly Gagne made frequent trips to her 12-year-old interior-design studio on Massachusetts’ North Shore. Each time she passed through Camden, she noted with concern the shuttered storefronts. The centerpiece of summer vacations since her childhood, the town is close to her heart — Camden is even her son’s middle name. When side-by-side vacancies appeared, she was moved to open her own studio and shop. “The town was so quiet,” she says. “I thought maybe we could bring a little energy.”
From rope wall hangings braided in Iowa to root coffee tables milled in Java to a highly varnished surfboard shaped in Bali, nearly every item in Holly Gagne Studio + Shop falls within a natural palette of soft tans, grays, and sea greens inspired by Gagne’s recent winter on Islesboro. “We like clean lines and crisp, white walls, but we also want to create warmth,” she says. “We look for things that are handmade with natural materials, a little rugged, a little imperfect.”
Gagne’s co-tenants include an architect and a lighting designer, which was part of the building’s appeal. “It felt like a nice design collaborative,” she says. She likes being on the edge of the retail district, away from the busiest foot traffic, because the shop is open to walk-in customers just a few days a week. “We’re first and foremost designers. This is like our lab, where we can experiment and test products to see how people like them. Even if we don’t sell to people off the street, we have clients who are looking for us to guide them.”
Soft, lightweight cotton-rope baskets by Pemaquid’s TetherMade; elegant O-shaped vases by Portland’s Ceramica; photos of sailboat races and misty shores by Islesboro’s Tricia Ladd; and wicked Mainey candles that resemble deer skulls by Portland’s Evangeline or smell and sound like camping, thanks to pine, smoke, and sandalwood essential oils and a wooden wick that crackles by Westbrook’s Near & Native.