Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Collected Interior: The Buzz on Suzanne Kasler

Just in case you missed my interview with Suzanne Kasler on Decorati:

Describe your design style in five words or less. Inspired.

What are three most important elements of sophisticated design? Scale, proportion, and attention to detail.

Your interiors are so strikingly different and new. Where do you get your inspiration for them? It depends on the project, sometimes it’s art, sometimes it’s the physical location, sometimes it’s my client’s lifestyle.

Is there a location that is most inspirational to you or that you visit again and again for new ideas? Paris…to me, it is the most beautiful and inspiring place in the world.

Where was the most exotic location where you did a project? We are working on a house in Kenya right now!

What single word, other than fabulous, do you try to avoid saying when describing your design work? Transitional.

I love watching period films to see the antique interiors. What is your favorite film to watch for it’s sets and interiors? Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette, it’s French and so gorgeous!

(Note from Buzz: I agree and I also recommend Barry Lyndon)

Who’s your favorite clothes, jewelry and shoe designer? Hermes, Lanvin, Prada.

What are your favorite antique accessories? Boxes, books, textiles, rock crystal globes/obelisks, chia pets? Antique glass paperweights, shagreen, antique globes-the colors and patina are so special, antique books add such an authentic touch to a space.

On any decorating project, what is the absolutely first thing that needs to get done? If you can get the architecture right, it gives you such freedom when you’re designing the interiors. There’s nothing to compensate for or disguise.

What is the single most important factor or functionality that every room you design must have? In a house spaces need to relate to one another, so it’s important that the architecture and the interior design facilitate a flow. I also think it’s important that each room have one special piece-a fabulous piece of art, a fine antique, a quirky chair-but something needs to give the room personality and style. Often these pieces drive the design direction.

What makes your interiors personal to your clients and how do you go about ascertaining what those factors will be? I spend a lot of time working with my clients, asking questions, and listening to them. It’s important to me that my interiors reflect my client’s taste and way of living.

How do you handle a client that wants to be involved in every detail of the project? I work very hard to design interiors that work for my clients and help them live luxuriously and comfortably-so when they’re involved it makes it that much easier.

What happens if you design something for a client and the client just isn’t crazy about it? How do you handle that? I ask that they wait to see everything completed to make their final decision; if they still don’t like something I will take it back.

The highest end designers have strong opinions about where family photos should go. Some say bedroom, some say stairwell, etc. What does Suzanne say? I love to hang them all together in a hallway.

What role do antiques play in your design philosophy? I love working with antiques-they bring a timeless elegance and level of sophistication to a space that I think is important. I always encourage my clients to find a special piece, and not to buy something just for the sake of buying it. When the right antique comes along you’ll know it.

What turns you on about antiques? Is it their patina, their drama, the fact that they’re hand made, or something else? All those things, and the fact that they have stood the test of time, not only in their physical presence-but the style and the feel and the past they represent.

When it comes to antiques, do you have a favorite period or style? French Moderne.

Tell us about a great antique that you repurposed for a use that it was never intended for? An antique French magazine stand was used in a bath as a towel and accessory holder-very chic.

How do you feel about the opposite of antiques: mass produced furniture? I love antiques, but it’s practical to mix in pieces from catalogs. I love a mix of high and low and catalogs make good design really accessible to everyone. It also helps keep things affordable for my clients. It gives us the freedom to find the really special pieces-especially an antique-and fill in some of the smaller things with objects found online and in catalogs.

Are there any color trends you particular gravitate toward right now? White is my signature and it’s where I always start and that’s never really changed for me. I strategically layer in color and texture, but the background is always whites and neutrals, and I always love a beautiful blue.

What single decorating technique can freshen a room for the Fall without spending a ton of money? Paint.

Speaking of updating rooms for seasons, is this something you endorse and if so how do you transition a home from season to season? Is it paint, rugs, flowers, slipcovers, or other things. One of my clients slipcovered everything in white for the summer, it really freshened up the space against a darker background, which is perfect for the winter and fall.

From looking at your new Rizzoli book (which The Buzz feels is drop dead incredible and I’m not just saying that either!), I can’t honestly think of a singlular signature style of yours. What’s your thinking on that? I’m always reinventing myself and my work, so as I say in the book, why try to pin it down to one style? I work with things that I like that are beautiful and timeless, regardless of whether it is new or antique.

You’ve been widely published in the major shelter publications. Does your new book coming out from Rizzoli include images of projects that have never been published? Yes, one of my favorite projects is a house that has amazing architecture and art; I was so excited to include it.

Aside from your new book, you’re already famous for mixing antiques and classicism with the ultra contemporary. What are the challenges you face in achieving a balance between antiques and modern design?
The biggest challenge is keeping things fresh and interesting. I don’t want my interiors to be stamped with my own look, but want them to reflect my clients’ taste and interest. I like to help them create a lifestyle that blends the things they love with beautiful pieces.

Note from Buzz: you’re a designer after my own heart!

(BELOW: Suzanne Kasler’s book, Inspired Interiors)

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