To Mik Hollis, fine antiques have been a family affair his whole life. And it’s one that has gotten him into some pretty exciting adventures while he was “flying around the world to look for antiques” with his mother, renowned antiques dealer Susanne Hollis.
One time the two slept at the back of a moving truck full of antiques in the middle of the winter in a small town in Sweden, because all the local hotels had sold out of rooms due to a big conference. His childhood was marked by trips to his mother’s native Denmark where he would stay with his grandmother “in her lovely home full of antiques.” Then as a teenager, he would spend hours at his mother’s famous Pasadena showroom learning the craft of furniture making. In fact, the line between the family business and his personal life has blurred so much that he is used to having furniture at his house with price tags on simply because he wants to “try it out.”
And while he has no problem parting ways with those pieces (even if it means having a dining table in the morning and not having one by dinnertime because a client wanted it), there are certain pieces—namely those that he inherited from his family—that he would never sell.
“They just speak to me, they have memories. At some point, my grandmother bought that piece of furniture. So it was new—to her—but over time, it creates a different kind of value,” Hollis said. “And I think about that when I am buying a piece of furniture and when I am selling it to somebody—that maybe this will have that story for them.”
It’s undeniable that Hollis has a childlike passion for antiques but his dedication to not just continue the family business but to open a new chapter in it—one that has his handwriting all over it—is what’s truly exciting.
His mother started her eponymous business over 30 years ago in Los Angeles and transformed it into one of the most celebrated design firms in the country. Her Pasadena showroom became a true bastion of fine and decorative arts where she offered classic European, Asian, and South American furniture, artifacts, and accessories of impeccable quality and provenance. And now that Susanne Hollis has retired, Mik has taken the reigns of the business hoping to expand on his mother’s legacy and leave his own mark on the company by ushering it into the digital age.
But don’t expect him to simply open an online store and call it a day. In fact, Mik is doing the unthinkable in a time when retail stores are shutting down. After moving the original showroom to a new location in Pasadena on December 7, he is opening another store—called HOLLIS—in San Marino at the beginning of next year.
“I think for what we do and for what I want to do, we have to have a brick and mortar location where people can come in, touch and feel, and get to know us personally. And they'll be able to walk away understanding and feeling like they really have something that's more than just a product. It's something that represents an artistic history, a history of good materials,” Hollis said.
Aside from antiques, he is also bringing the works of local artisans into the fine mix of products that HOLLIS will offer. More accessories such as pillows as well as the company’s own lighting line and reproduction furniture will also be on display in the new stores.
And while the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has put a halt to his buying trips around the world, he also sees this moment as pivotal for the industry.
“I think people are finding the limits of what you can do virtually. I think there’s a fair amount of burnout. I actually think people are going to realize the importance of in-person contact and the importance of being able to come and see, and touch, and feel things. I think there’s going to be a pent-up desire for that kind of thing once we start coming out of this [the COVID-19 pandemic],” Hollis said.
The new HOLLIS showroom is located at 1975 Lincoln Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91103.