Sitting at the helm of a company as influential in the world of interactive digital design as Fantasy Interactive would be an end goal for most designers. Not so for Anton Repponen and Irene Pereyra. After working as global creative director and global UX director (respectively) at F-I, this talented duo joined forces in 2014 to take a giant leap of faith and set up their own NYC design studio, Anton & Irene. Before that, Repponen and Pereyra were spending more time directing than they were designing, and they decided to do something about it.

“All of a sudden you have to sit in a lot of meetings that have nothing to do with design,” says Pereyra. “And we’re like, wait a minute, we’re designers! What the hell are we doing managing all the shit and all these people and all this nonsense?“

“We wanted a new challenge that would be more outside the realm of web design,” she continues. “We wanted to start doing projects that are design-based, but not necessarily web-design based… other types of work that we would never have been able to explore had we stayed at a web design company.”

Now they choose the type of work they take on, and explore projects that embrace their true passions: travel, photography, and (of course) good design. When talking to Repponen and Pereyra, the concept of travel and adventure comes up so often you get the feeling it’s a common thread through much of their decision-making. “The most memorable moments in my career aren’t only project-related, but also the things that happened after office hours while we were in Tokyo, Dusseldorf, Istanbul or wherever,” says Pereyra.

While there’s no doubt that their client list at F-I was as impressive as it was diverse, (USA Today, Porsche, Nintendo, Google, and Wacom are just a few), Repponen and Pereyra are after more than adding big brand names to their roster. “You can be with the most awesome, cool brand,” Pereyra explains, “and have a horrible time working with them. Or you can be with a really unknown brand or brand that sounds really boring and stupid, and make a great product. We’re not chasing the big name clients. We want to make sure the fit with the client is right, so that they let us do what we think is right. We’re much more careful about whom we work with.”

That means they’re focused on getting better, not growing bigger. As Repponen explains, “We don’t want to grow at this in the first couple of years. There’s just two of us and growth actually limits our plans in many ways.”

But failure, surely, is something anyone who strikes out on their own considers at some point. “Failure should not even be a talk,” Repponen declares. “It’s in the job by default.” Or as Pereyra spins it, “Looking back where I’ve potentially made bad decisions, something good always came out of it afterwards. So even when you fail, you learn.”

Failing, learning, traveling, evolving… wherever this new venture takes them, one thing is for sure: Anton & Irene are doing it their way.