Maker Monday: An ASPIRE Exclusive Interview With Suzan Allen

It’s all in the name at French Italian Home Furnishing. Founder Suzan Allen and her team thoroughly understand and execute what French and Italian design signify. From deep accented colors, and clean cultivated silhouettes, each piece of sourced furniture brings the perfect blend of tradition, history and contemporary style. Suzan’s mission is to bring quality home furnishings that represent European design to the states through an effortless luxury shopping experience. Introducing this week’s Maker Monday, Suzan Allen.

A combination of French coastal-inspired colors are a perfect balance to the rich, dark Italian hues here.

Andrew Joseph: You’re the newest Crayola color. What color are you and why?
Suzan Allen: I love color! If I were a new Crayola color, I would be Cobalt Red. It’s a purplish red that is bluer and deeper than the average rose color but also bluer and lighter than magenta. It makes a bold and loud statement while, at the same time, remaining timeless and representing opulence and richness in design.

Andrew: What is something you hope to see trending in design in the future?
Suzan: I’d like to see more linen collections available from designers. Europeans have long appreciated linen for everything from furniture to sheets to clothing. Linen has a quality and comfort to it while still maintaining a subtle sophistication that lends itself to design.

[Allen is planning on developing her own collections that will eventually be offered at French Italian and will be a perfect example of linen done elegantly in design. “Linen is the textile that will outlast all trends,” Allen says. There will be other collections but linen will have a big focus with French Italian by Suzan.]

A signature style that can be seen in French Italian Home Furnishings pieces are the embellished parallelepipeds with bright fabrics. These classic sofas embody glamour and elegance.

Andrew: What’s the best thing that happened to you this month?
Suzan: The best thing that’s happened to me this month is watching all the parts of my company, French Italian Home Furnishings, that I’ve been building one layer at a time, come together. Working side-by-side with European manufacturers to get every meticulously selected collection together and collaborating with designers in preparation of our launch have been some of the most rewarding moments. I’m proud to say that I’ve led every process – from finalizing our white glove shipping process for every order to website creation. I am passionate about making European home furnishings more accessible stateside and, to that end, I’ve worked tirelessly to ensure that since consumers are investing in quality furniture, the shipping and delivery is a first-class experience. Securing a white glove delivery service guarantees that furniture arrives undamaged, delivery drivers remove and take away packaging and they place the product where you want it, preventing scratching to your floors or other damage.

I’m making sure everything is done with both the consumer and designers in mind, ensuring that the shopping experience is seamless and that the exclusive designer portal is customized to fit designers’ specific needs which includes the opportunity to work with our design assistants. Watching all these moving parts come together is a dream come true!

Andrew: What would your dream project or dream client be right now?
Suzan: Friends call me the “rearranger” because every time I enter someone’s home, I immediately start reimagining the layout of the room. So, I appreciate clients that are willing to go out of their comfort zone and take risks. Bravo TV star and real estate powerhouse, Fredrik Eklund, would be my dream client. As a Swedish-born transplant, Eklund brings with him a different take on design and fabulous style coupled with passion, a clear understanding of textiles, a meticulous eye and a willingness to take risks. He certainly knows exactly what he likes and what he does not – which is refreshing just as much as it can be challenging. I welcome the opportunity to work with him one day and create a space that is rich with color, luxurious and elegant.

“Simple” and “sophisticated” are words to describe the new collection of French Italian Home Furnishings. It focuses on a blend of mid-century modern pieces and contemporary design elements.

Andrew: What might the design world look like in 10 years?
Suzan: In 10 years, I predict we’ll see a lot more of what we’re already been seeing – minimalist design with a muted color palette and small pops of color. If I’m being honest, I don’t see the appeal and will always steer clients away from this trend. We live our lives in color, why remove color from the place we spend a majority of our time – our homes which have now become offices and schools? I recently read an article that talked about how the color of a room can change the feeling and size while also holding superpowers over our emotions. People associate so many feelings and memories with color. It should be a part of our homes just as much as it’s a part of our daily lives. The global pandemic has up-ended everyday life and we find ourselves looking around our homes, which have also turned into gyms, offices and schools, and wanting to transform them into places that bring us comfort, joy and calm. The colors we put in our home have a huge impact on moods and we should continue embracing color to elevate those moods while also promoting peace and serenity where needed.

Andrew: Style (or design) icon?
Suzan: Hands down, Hitchcox & Starck. Their partnership is one for the record books, in my opinion. Starck’s modern yet timeless design esthetic coupled with Hitchcox’s design and entrepreneurial know-how makes the perfect combination for creating some of the world’s most interesting and celebrated designs.

About The Maker | Suzan Allen is the founder and CEO of French Italian Home Furnishings, an online boutique importing French, Italian and French-Italian inspired Portuguese furniture, making it available for both the general public and interior designers. French Italian’s mission is to bring the quality and craftsmanship of European design stateside in a seamless and first-class shopping experience. Launching in late fall, you can find more information about the launch and product offerings on Instagram.


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

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