Blair Cooper is the Creative Director of Noise Noise Noise, a studio that reimagines retail spaces and designs immersive and unique shopping experiences that challenge the norm.

She’s a true leader in her field and a much-loved part of the Hype DC community. We caught up with Blair, who’s recently relocated to NYC, to chat about moving across the globe during a global pandemic, the advice she’d give her teenage self, and what being a leader means to her.

Hey Blair, can you tell our readers a little about yourself?
Cute spaces, cute faces, coffees, kicks, cheese, Copic markers, ’90s anthems, negronis, design, and explorations.I relocated to NYC in October, and I’m busy knocking out the daily step count in new neighbourhoods, dodging snow slush, finding the perfect bodega egg and cheese roll, and not getting lost on the subway while currently designing brand experiences for Nike.

We spoke to you on IWD last year. What’s news since then?
What a ride! My wife and I were supposed to relocate to NYC in March, two days before we were due to fly, the relocation got postponed due to COVID-19. We had to figure out what to do with ourselves for eight months – I even did a few nights in our local bar for a change of scenery! As the Creative Director for Noise Noise Noise, we specialised in retail design, and 2020 was the year that most retail was closing rather than thinking about their next brand space. We were fortunate to do a number of great projects with great clients and keep going through all the craziness!

Hey Blair, can you tell our readers a little about yourself?
Cute spaces, cute faces, coffees, kicks, cheese, Copic markers, ’90s anthems, negronis, design, and explorations.I relocated to NYC in October, and I’m busy knocking out the daily step count in new neighbourhoods, dodging snow slush, finding the perfect bodega egg and cheese roll, and not getting lost on the subway while currently designing brand experiences for Nike.

We spoke to you on IWD last year. What’s news since then?
What a ride! My wife and I were supposed to relocate to NYC in March, two days before we were due to fly, the relocation got postponed due to COVID-19. We had to figure out what to do with ourselves for eight months – I even did a few nights in our local bar for a change of scenery! As the Creative Director for Noise Noise Noise, we specialised in retail design, and 2020 was the year that most retail was closing rather than thinking about their next brand space. We were fortunate to do a number of great projects with great clients and keep going through all the craziness!



Can you tell us a little more about your career – what is Brand Experience Design for the uninitiated?
Brand Experience Design is about immersing people in the stories and emotions of brands via experiences. Experiences are the most direct connection with a consumer – we remember 80% of what we experience versus only 10% of what we read. Experiences can be IRL or virtual – it’s about a deep dive and a connection. They can be via retail, events, or online – as long as they are designed and marketed to engage and excite with strategic purpose.

In challenging times, how have you adapted to a new way of working and living?
2020 was when I learned to trust more. The forced situation made me realise we can work effectively remotely – it’s all about relationships and understanding. I missed ‘contact’ both personally with collaborators, clients, and fabricators – and from a tactile standpoint with materiality and projects under construction, but it was a real learning. A number of projects we designed and built last year and I’ve never even visited them in real life – it was all via Zoom and Facetime – I have seen every inch of the space and know them inside and out! Routines with daily life are different, and it’s okay not to feel in control. I remind myself of this a lot.

What’s been your biggest achievement over the last year?
As the Creative Director of Noise Noise Noise, we won a number of awards in 2020 including Retail Interior of the Year, and Digital Integration of the for Subtype New Zealand. We were also nominated for the IDEA Awards Emerging Designer of the Year, and Retail Interior of the Year for Relic. It’s the greatest feeling to be recognised for your creative work by your peers. Besides that, moving our lives to the USA amidst many turbulent events in the world was a pretty significant achievement.

What are you looking forward to in 2021?
Seeing the world become vaccinated against COVID-19, and the feeling of normality returning. I can’t wait to dance with new friends on random nights out and meet my new team face-to-face! Oh – and a trip to Tokyo is on the cards as soon as we can travel again.

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to all young women?
Trust yourself, your drive, your passion. Be authentic. Find people who inspire you, learn from them, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Looking back, is there something you wish your teenage self knew?
That missing out on getting into university to be a journalist probably was for the best. It all works out. Everything happens for a reason at the right time.

What does being a leader mean to you?
Encouragement. To ensure people feel valued as a contributor to a team, trusted, and always supported. It’s not about titles, it’s not about egos, we can all learn from each other regardless of experience. Encourage people to be themselves, and you will get the best out of them both at work and in life.

Looking back, is there something you wish your teenage self knew?
That missing out on getting into university to be a journalist probably was for the best. It all works out. Everything happens for a reason at the right time.

What does being a leader mean to you?
Encouragement. To ensure people feel valued as a contributor to a team, trusted, and always supported. It’s not about titles, it’s not about egos, we can all learn from each other regardless of experience. Encourage people to be themselves, and you will get the best out of them both at work and in life.



And what women in leadership positions do you look up to?
Jacinda Ardern and Kamala Harris are powerhouse leaders, each with a strong vision to represent their countries while breaking down stereotypes.

Any advice for women when it comes to supporting and empowering other women?
Be stronger together. Work with women, don’t compete with them. We are all in it together for a brighter future.

Have you experienced a key moment in your life where you’ve had to push harder for yourself because of your gender? And how did you overcome this?
Yes, I was 24 years old, working for a large Australian retailer. They were opening multiple stores in South Africa, so I was asked to fly to Johannesburg to work with the local teams and contractors and ensure everything was as we had designed. I walked onto the construction site, and being the only female (albeit also very young), the site managers just laughed at me, asked when ‘my boss’ was arriving, and went on with their day.

The next day I went back to the construction site, bought them all a coffee, told them a bit about me, asked them about themselves, and talked through our design details with confidence. They started to respect me as I proved to them that gender or age wasn’t an issue – we were all there for the same goal in mind. I’ve visited South Africa 28 times since then and opened over 150 stores there. The same guys still keep in touch almost ten years later, and I get a Christmas message each year. If I’d walked away defeated on that first day, it would have been a very different outcome.

If you could change one thing for women worldwide, what would it be?
Equal pay for equal experience. It is changing, but not fast enough.

Where do you hope to see yourself in ten years?
With my wife, enjoying great food, in a fun city and working with next-level brands on fun projects that I can be proud of creating.

Follow Blair’s retail design and brand experience projects here.