Interiors guru Susie Atkinson tells us about her work with Soho House, why she loves her job and what’s hot in design
How did you get into design?
I went to the Inchbald School of Design for three months and was very lucky to get a job as a trainee with Chester Jones.
Who has inspired and influenced you most?
I am very influenced by Chester. I’ve always looked to him for the traditional ways of decorating. But when I started to work for Soho House, it was quite nice to break out of and not follow convention.
How would you describe your design style?
My ambition is to create an environment that feels welcoming the moment you step through the door.
Tell us a bit about your work with Soho House.
I finished off Shoreditch House. From there I did Dean Street, Soho House Berlin, Babington. Babington was supposed to be a country house to escape to, but with an edge. It was huge fun to do while
What makes Soho House interiors so admired?
It’s a home from home. The remit for me was to create something that feels so homely, so when you arrive you feel like you can kick your shoes off and totally relax. Understated glamour, really.
Who are your go-to product designers at the moment?
I very much like Nicky Haslam’s new collection. It’s got a lot of rattan and wicker. Also Howe London in Pimlico.
What’s hot right now?
Bolder colours and prints; indoor plants; rattan, cane and bamboo furniture; and graphic prints. I still think mixing family heirlooms with more modern pieces is current.
Why do you love your job?
No two days are the same. I could be on a building site up a ladder with a hard hat on, out sourcing fabrics, at an auction or antiques fair, in the office doing schemes, or with clients looking for accessories. I never get bored of doing schemes because there’s always something new. No two sites are the same and that’s what gets the creative juices flowing. Our studio is quite unique in that we focus on bespoke pieces.
What advice do you have for teenagers wanting to design?
Work experience in a design studio is a very good way to learn on the job. It is vital to research designers and makers that appeal to you. I’ve always got a hunger to learn more and am constantly searching for new inspiration. It’s about expressing yourself – that’s how it should be in a creative environment.
Which project are you most proud of?
Probably Soho House Berlin and Beaverbrook [a new luxury country house hotel in Surrey]. Berlin was a hugely challenging project. It was effectively like turning Selfridges into a hotel.
A beach house or hotel would be the cherry on top. I love going to the Hotel Tresanton in Cornwall. There’s so much I’d love to do on that. I’m currently pitching on a project on a lake in America, and that comes a close second.
How do you go about designing for tweens and teens?
It’s a collaboration. [It’s] absolutely key to get into their mindset. We guide them so their eyes are opened to things they might not see anywhere else.
- Main photo – one of 42 bedrooms at Soho Berlin
- Above photo – bar at the recently finished Beaverbrook Hotel