Staging Designer Profile: Andrew Bowen

BY: ED THOMPSON FEBRUARY 9TH, 2018

Andrew Bowen is the Director of Staging at leading design and development firm, ASH NYC. Though he was accepted for a pre-med track at college, with the goal of becoming a plastic surgeon, he had a change of heart before his first class. “I went to my advisor’s office and changed course to major in Urban Design and Architecture, with a Business minor. I wanted to be in the design and business worlds, but I wasn’t quite sure how to do all of that, so I picked the closet fit that the school offered.”

After taking a job at Marcus & Millichap as a commercial real estate agent, Bowen decided to strike out on his own. He obtained his real estate license and started renting out apartments in lower Manhattan. “I was closer to my long term goal, but not quite there yet.”

Later, on vacation in London, a snowstorm caused Bowen to miss his flight home. By chance, he met someone who introduced him to a real estate staging and development firm that that just opened and happened to be hiring. When Bowen returned to New York, he met with Founder, Ari Heckman and Jonathan Minkoff. The three clicked and Bowen was hired on the spot. “We were much smaller back then, and working on such a different scale, but it was clear that the culture and vision were mutually shared.”

After another brief “sabbatical” in the real estate world, Bowen returned to ASH. “Real estate hadn’t fully activated what I’m personally (and professionally) most passionate about,” Bowen explained, “which is a hard-to-define mix of interior design, real estate development, and business in general. But thankfully, it certainly offered me a breadth of knowledge that I was able to apply to this particular niche of design.”

We have the ability to manifest the vast majority of our initial ideas, which is a privilege not enjoyed by all creative disciplines.

ASH NYC’s projects take on many shapes and sizes. The firm includes a development wing that has tackled multi-million dollar hotel renovation projects from Rhode Island to New Orleans, new developments from Baltimore to Brooklyn, and staging projects to support the sales of some of the nation’s most exclusive residential properties, many of them in Manhattan’s most sought-after locales.

“I love the freedom and the frequency of our work,” Bowen told us. “For most of our projects, nobody is living in the space, and we’re not designing for any one person. We have the ability to manifest the vast majority of our initial ideas, which is a privilege not enjoyed by all creative disciplines.”

Staging is a hugely complex logistical operation, especially when working with top-tier properties. Every couch, lamp or coffee table, not to mention the artwork, needs to be handled with extreme care, available for repeat use in another space.

“We have to work with impossibly fast timelines to deliver a fully finished project. It’s an exciting business operation exercise to create and implement systems that allow us, for example, to conceptualize and install a completed home in as little as two weeks (and sometimes even less).”

ASH NYC’s staging work has been featured in top-tier publications like Architectural Digest and The New York Times, a testament to the impact the staging process makes to the bottom line for their clients. Properties will often sell over-asking in a competitive bid. As a result, Bowen works with top brokers, developers, marketers and sellers, adding value at a critical point in their operations.

“I love being a trusted advisor and adding measurable value to their work,” Bowen explained. “They often come to us at the end of a long (and sometimes complicated) road, relying on what we offer to properly position an asset. To be successful, we need to see things clearly from multiple perspectives—from the buyer to the seller, the developer to the agent, and everything in between. Working in tandem with all layers of the industry allows us to do just that.”