Q&A with Susie Atkinson

Susie Atkinson founded her eponymous design studio in 1998.  She takes pride in not being heavily influenced by passing trends or fashion which translates into her timeless style which draws on the location and use of the space in which she is designing, use of texture & natural materials and listening to what her clients want and need.

Susie and her team work on a mixture of commercial and residential projects in the UK and abroad.  Her commercial work includes a number of projects with the Soho House Group including Babington House, Soho House Berlin, The Electric and Dean Street Town House.  Residential projects have included a barn conversion, London home and a private country house.

Susie’s studio is based very close to the Chelsea Design Quarter and she regularly works with members on her projects.  We are pleased to announce that she is taking place in the Top 5 Picks for June.

Susie, thank you for taking the time to talk with us.  Firstly – tell us a little about your background and what attracted you to working in interiors?

I started off as a chef and then worked in the city for a while. However, I increasingly felt like I needed to go down a more creative path and that’s when I did the Inchbald course. After that I was lucky enough to land a job with Chester Jones with whom I worked with for a few years. In this job I just love that no two days are the same and it’s a very energizing, exciting industry to be in.

How did you go about establishing your own studio?

It just grew generically as the business got more successful. We then moved to a bigger space and added more members to the team.

Do you have any advice for someone who is thinking about setting up their own design studio?

Start at your kitchen table, that’s basically what I did. You don’t need a big studio to begin with. Also make sure to develop strong relationships with your suppliers.

You have a diverse mix of projects in your portfolio.  Are there any stand out projects you are especially proud to have worked on?

I enjoy working on all my projects but if I have to pick one I would probably say a classic 1930s motor yacht that we have just finished. It was a unique opportunity to create a beautifully nostalgic interior with every detail carefully considered.

As well as working on some amazing commercial projects including Soho House Berlin & Beaverbrook House you have also worked on some gorgeous residential projects for your clients too. Do you have a preference between commercial and residential projects (and why)?

I don’t have a preference. I love the detail that goes into residential projects, as well as the relationship that you build with your client on the private projects. On commercial projects however you tend to have more freedom on what fabrics and furniture you choose.

Are there any interior design projects that you would either love to have done, or would like to do?

I would love to do a hotel on the coast, by the sea.

How much do you engage with Social Media?  How has it’s growing influence impacted your design process, if at all?

As much as I can. I think it’s a fantastic platform for finding new makers, crafts people and suppliers, and of course to showcase some of our projects. It hasn’t really impacted my design process, apart from us being more exposed to potential future suppliers.

How would you describe your personal style? 

I focus on creating something warm and welcoming. I use as many natural materials as possible and I think it’s important to get the right balance of textures and pattern in a scheme. I basically just want to create environments that people want to stay in.

What do you see as the biggest challenges currently facing the interiors industry?

The biggest challenge for the design industry I think is the fact that everything is available to everybody because of social media and the Internet. It makes it harder for designers to come up with things that are original. We always try our best to use British makers but it’s expensive and so that’s a challenge as well, to avoid going abroad.

On reflection each decade has a defining look, how do you think people will describe the current style of interiors in years to come?

I think this decade is the decade where people really are starting to realise the huge affects that waste and consumption have on the environment. We have know it’s a worldwide problem for a while of course, but now people are really starting to rally against the throw-away society that we have been, and still are living in. I think this is the decade where people will start to move away from mass-production and really start to value quality over quantity.

Are there any trends or styles that you think are due to make a come back?

I think there will be a big re-emergence of checks, stripes, decorative ceilings and boarders.

How did you choose your Top 5 Picks? 

I chose my top 5 by simply looking at which suppliers we use repeatedly. Suppliers that supply products that we want and are very good at looking after us.

What does the rest of 2019 hold for you?

The studio has a lot of exciting projects going on this year. Lime Wood Hotel, residential projects in London and the countryside, as well as a lovely house in the Caribbean.

Thank you for taking the time to talk to us Susie.  We are really looking forward to sharing the products you have picked with everyone next week!

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