15 mins with…Simone Suss of Studio Suss
Tell us a bit about Studio Suss and the types of services you provide?
Studio Suss is a boutique interior design studio based in King’s Cross and working throughout London, the UK and worldwide. We collaborate with a range of commercial and residential partners on the design of beautiful interiors. Our clients include developers, investors, companies and homeowners. Each design is curated to represent their individual vision, spirit and energy.
I am a Patron of the Royal Academy of Arts and a member of the British Fashion Council Fashion Trust, so these influences definitely inspire our designs. I’m also a member of the BIID (British Institute of Interior Design).
How did Studio Suss come about?
I certainly didn’t take the traditional route into interior design. Whilst reading International Management and American Business Studies at Manchester University and UMASS in the USA, I helped promote the iconic Hacienda nightclub, leading the world in dance culture and its use of graphic design and branding.
My early career spanned advising and working with blue chip brands. This was across print, the internet, an interactive TV games channel and lastly interactive gaming at Sky.
I have always had a passion for interior design. So, whilst on maternity leave, I retrained as an interior designer. I started at St Martins, Chelsea College of Art and Design then moved on to Inchbald.
After I designed and built our family home, I started creating interiors for friends and family whilst raising the kids. One of my clients sent photos of my house to the interior design publication, Living etc, who then featured it in their magazine. I decided to capitalise on that opportunity and built a website; Studio Suss was born!
How big is the team?
We have a small in-house team of very experienced designers. In addition, we have a great network of interior design freelancers, suppliers and specialists that we work with on a regular basis.
Was your background in interior design?
Not at all, my background was in business and account management across media. This is definitely a second career. However, the skills I gained through working in media such as taking a brief, managing clients and suppliers is crucial to how I run Studio Suss.
What type of clients do you typically work with?
We have a really diverse range of clients. Our private clients range from professionals, families and empty-nesters and our commercial clients include developers and business owners. I love the diversity of our clients and therefore the different interior design projects that we create.
Can you tell us a bit about some of your recent projects/commissions? What were you tasked to do?
We recently completed our first residential project in King’s Cross, which was great as we work in the area and absolutely love how it’s developing. These clients were downsizing now that their kids had left home, so storage was very important. One of them was also born in Japan, so it was great to take design inspiration from there. Professional photographer Philip Vile took some fabulous shots of this project as you can see.
We also recently completed a project on the 24th floor of South Bank Tower. This has possibly one of the best views in London. In fact, it overlooks the Thames with views over St Pauls and the Houses of Parliament. That was a secondary residence for a busy professional. Sometimes, his wife and kids would join him on the weekend. So, it needed to function as a pied-a-terre and family home. The client loves mid-century design and gadgets, so we had great fun creating his dream space.
Both of those apartments started off as generic ‘white box’ apartments built by developers. So it’s always lovely to stamp our client’s personality on the space as part of the interior design process.
We also recently refurbished a house in St Johns Wood for a long-standing client, which hadn’t been modernised since the 1950s.
What have been some of your favourite projects to work on?
In 2017, we took part in the inaugural Holiday House London to raise money for BCRF. This is, in fact, a charity, which is very close to my heart. We created a really fun Teenage Dream bedroom to empower teenagers to get checked if they had any symptoms that could be a first sign of cancer.
I was blown away by the people that agreed to collaborate with us; Richard Woods designed a bespoke woodland wall covering in Farrow & Ball paint colours. In addition, Sophia Webster designed an amazing bed that Stuart Scott made. Also, Holly Fulton leant us her home accessories range. Tileyard Studios (where we work) created a teenage playlist and fellow Tileyard residents Devialet, Ella Eyre, Soda (School of Digital Age), Zan Zan all contributed to our room. There were so many more collaborators as well; it was amazing!
I also loved our first showhome in Soho. This is where we created a scheme based on a Best of British theme and everything was designed and made in the UK. It sold so quickly that we returned to design the penthouse.
Do you approach commercial and residential projects differently?
Not really. Our approach is pretty consistent across both.
With commercial interior design projects, we create environments that reflect both the brand essence and desired customer experience. With residential interior design projects, we create environments that reflect the client’s personality and ultimate experience within the space. We have a broad range of clients but our holistic approach to the design process is the same. Our clients are always at the centre, and we work with them to create the brief, so that the design solution optimises their needs.
How do you go about sourcing art or furniture for a client?
We start with their existing collections and their intentions; what do they already have? Are they looking to build a collection, and if so, who or what would they like to buy?
Once we’ve taken a brief of and understand their requirements, we can go about sourcing or incorporating their art into the schemes. We have a unique network of curators and galleries that we work closely with.
I try to get to as many art and furniture fairs as possible and, for the ones that I can’t get to, I turn to Instagram for my research. It keeps me aware of new launches, show highlights and I can connect directly with suppliers. For example, last month I was sourcing a unique dining table for clients and found something perfect being shown at IMM in Cologne. So I then messaged the supplier directly and, within the hour, had quotes ready for the client.
Studio Suss fuses interiors art, fashion and colour. Do these worlds influence one another?
I would say that they absolutely do influence each other in a positive way.
Each season, there are new things to discover in both; new ways to mix materials (both hard and soft), new and unique colour pairings; it’s amazing to see constant innovation in interior design.
Fashion, by its very nature, is always reinventing the narrative and I think that this definitely filters through to interiors. While we aim for our interiors to be cutting edge, our interiors remain timeless as I would always advise clients to move away from anything too ‘current’.
I consider our interior design schemes to be like the little black dress or brilliantly cut jeans and white shirt; the perfect canvas to accessorise with art and other items as the seasons change.
How would you describe Studio Suss’ style?
Elegant, timeless, bold, functional and fun.
Do you have any top tips for making smaller spaces look bigger?
- Use the same colour for all walls, skirting, cornicing and ceilings
- Feature floating shelves as consoles to keep the floor clear of legs
- Introduce mirrors and reflective surfaces to enhance the space
- Replace any busy window treatments with light and simple ones
- Feature lighter colours
- Consider space-saving storage solutions
Do you have any preferred colour schemes to work with?
I’ve always loved working with bright colours and colours on the ‘cool’ end of the spectrum; blues, purples, reds and greens. I absolutely love blue and find it to be the most versatile colour.
Our South Bank Tower client loved the colour orange, so we incorporated it into the scheme and we’ve now used it a number of times. We’re also working with green more than ever; particularly green upholstered seating.
Pink is also a favourite of mine and I love the new blush tones, which I think will be a new favourite neutral.
Essentially any colour, but not yellow. Although, after years of avoiding it, I’m even starting to use that now!
What key interiors trends should we look out for in 2019?
Unique combinations: we will continue to see unique pairings of different materials; wooden floors inlaid with marble and metal, for example.
Dark colours: dark, earthy greens and blues continue to be an interiors favourite.
Blush tones: neutral pinks and the like which go so beautifully with marble, wood and brass.
Tiles: there are so many amazing tiles on the market, particularly hexagonal and fish-scale shapes replacing metro tiles.
5th Wall: making a statement ceiling is so much fun; we definitely consider the ceilings in all of our spaces so much more now.
Fluted velvet upholstery: it’s really having a moment which is fab as it’s a style that I love.
What or where inspires you?
I literally get inspiration from anywhere and everywhere. In fact, I go to as many trade shows and exhibitions as time allows, in addition to art galleries and the theatre.
I love London Fashion Week shows and presentations and through the people I follow on Instagram can virtually experience and be inspired by all of the international fashion weeks as well.
Travel is another source of inspiration and, as we’re working with more commercial clients, we are weaving the location into the fabric of the interior to give each place a unique narrative.
My family and friends also keep me inspired. I have very cool nieces in their 20s, a teenage daughter and great friends. One good thing about Instagram is the way people use it to share stories and things that they’re doing, which is a constant source of inspiration.
What projects do you have coming up in 2019?
We have a couple of great residential projects at the moment; one is a project where we’re converting two traditional houses into a single dwelling and have unearthed some great features, such as the ability to have a sunken sitting room.
Another is a large new-build for existing clients that have the most incredible art collection. I’m delighted to create an interior with them that really considers their art from the outset.
On the commercial side, we are working on a hotel and apartment development on the south coast, as well as a couple of exciting leisure and hospitality projects in and around London.
I’ll also be giving a talk as a BIID interior designer at Grand Designs Live later this year, entitled The A-Z of incorporating Art into Interiors.
It’s going to be an interesting year!
Published by Christchurch Creative in February 2019. Read the article here.