Designer Friday: An ASPIRE Exclusive Interview With Susan Ferrier

Susan Ferrier is nothing short of being a trailblazer in the interior design world. She has been designing interiors for over 18 years and finally began her very own successful firm in 2018. Since then, she has been on the Top 50 Coastal Interior Designer List, The A-List for Elle Decor, and has been recognized in leading publications such as House Beautiful and Architectural Digest. Her continuous passion for travel has led her to create unforgettable spaces with mesmerizing treasures she has found from all over the world. Get to know Susan in this week’s Designer Friday.

Susan strives for movement in the rooms she designs. She wants the atmosphere to have a sense of balance and rhythm throughout the entire area.

Andrew Joseph: Describe your design style as if you were explaining it to someone who cannot see.
Susan Ferrier: I think you can describe it as lush atmospheric layers that are arranged in a rhythmic sensibility so that your eyes move around the room recognizing similar shapes and forms. In keeping tuned to this balanced, a calm feeling is created when your mind rests in a spot before you look to take more in.

Andrew: If you could live in any home in a movie or television series, what would it be?
Susan: The Great Gatsby for the glamour Baz Lehrman brought out in it, Under the Tuscan Sun for the feeling and tender life you could live there and finally Giant because it was so bold and unapologetic.

Andrew: If you weren’t a designer, you’d be a ….?
Susan: If I wasn’t allowed to be a designer of any kind, I think I would be an excellent judge. Believe it or not, the critical thinking that is developed in design is very transferable. Let me explain. Over the years I have learned to read people, recognize immediately the difference between right and wrong and how to look at everything more deeply than what is presented on its surface. Both professions require a depth of understanding and decisions are made that have lasting effects on how lives are lived and how society is shaped.

A majority of the elements found in the rooms that Susan designs are artifacts she discovers all over the world. These pieces leave the room feeling earthy and inviting.

Andrew: What’s your favorite cocktail?
Susan: For years it has been “The Blakely.” Atlanta’s Cape Dutch restaurant has this amazing tequila cocktail with a grilled jalapeno that should be, but is not, served by the pitcher. It is a version of a margarita only on it’s very, very best day.

Andrew: What’s your design pet peeve?
Susan: Cookie cutter spaces—rooms that look like you have no reason to linger in them. It’s a result of design laziness and these rooms, rooms that look like showrooms, are always boring. Our industry should celebrate imagination, creativity and innovation. I want to see spaces that celebrate the land, the architecture and the people being designed for. Designers should be masters at seeing in a better, unexpected way. Thought and effort are required to create functioning individualized environments that not only inspire the inhabitants but also their guests. A provocative room is always more interesting and promotes better conversation and a place for entertaining.

Andrew: What’s something you always travel with?
Susan: I am a strong believer in carry-on luggage when traveling. My suitcase is always ready to go with travel size essentials so that there is always room for my jewelry to add glamour, walking shoes for exploration and a collapsible bag for any shopping I pick up because my only regrets in life are the things that I have not purchased.

Susan’s goal for her clients is to create a space that goes above and beyond the expected. She wants them to have their own experiences in her designs.

Andrew: How would you describe your personal style?
Susan: Even when I am expressing glamour there is a strong dose of the earthiness in it. Fashion and interiors have a balance of reflection, texture and comfort. Everything that comes from me is inherent and looks like my hand has touched it in some way. From my handwriting to my interior work, I consistently represent a style that has balance and rhythm that resonates with an aesthetic that I generate. My personal style is tactile for the eye as well as the hand—textures, colors, depth and simplicity—and I hope that sensuality translates into my work.

Andrew: What’s inspiring you in life—and in the industry—right now?
Susan: Markets in far off lands. My source of inspiration has always been exploring and traveling, seeking out not only what my eyes can drink in but also how an environment makes me feel. Lately, I’ve been especially influenced by and engrossed in the people and the colors in the textiles in India, and the climate and the quality of the light in New Zealand. Traveling is a celebration of the diversity of the planet and it’s land and what grows in that spot that influence the taste of the food and the smell in the air.

About the Designer | Award-winning decorator Susan Ferrier is known for creating sensuous, atmospheric interiors. She founded Susan Ferrier Interiors in 2018 after more than 18 years as a partner at the architecture and design firm McAlpine. She is on Elle Decor’s A-List of the top interior designers in the world, and her work has been featured in publications around the country including The New York Times, Architectural Digest, Elle Decor, Veranda, House Beautiful, Traditional Home, Harper’s Bazaar, Coastal Living, Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles and many others. 

Susan is a member of the Design Leadership Network and Institute of Classical Architecture & Art. She is also the co-author of Art of the House, published by Rizzoli, and her work has been featured in numerous books. Consistently inspired by travel and other cultures, Susan shops the world for treasures for her clients and projects and jokes that her passport looks like a National Geographic table of contents. When she’s not traveling for work or pleasure, Susan and her husband reside in Atlanta, in a house that Veranda lauded for its “atmosphere of intrigue and wonder.”

Andrew Joseph is a regular contributing editor for ASPIRE DESIGN AND HOME magazine. See more of his work here

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