Style Files: Susan Connor

11.11.14

I’ve discovered a designer that I can’t wait to introduce you to. Meet Susan Connor, a textile designer based in New York and the name behind the most gorgeous collection of textiles and homewares I’ve seen in a long time. Not only is thew self taught designer incredibly talented,. but she possesses a truly admirable ability to find beauty in the simplistic, tune into life’s finer details and live an honest and creatively inspired existence. It’s a rare quality that draws me in because I suppose we live in a time where we are all trying to find peace and meaning in the busy lives we lead. As I browsed her collection and read her story, I knew I wanted to know more about her creative process. My appreciation for textiles goes back to when I was a young girl and used to accompany my mother {a former interior decorator} as she shopped for fabrics – careful to involve me in her selection process – all the way up to my fashion design days after high school. And as an interior stylist it’s what I get most excited about as a project comes to a close – layering in the textiles. So when I laid eyes on the beautiful collection owing to the thoughtful and thought-provoking artist behind them, I had to know more. In her search for meaning, quality and beauty in simplicity, Susan Connor has founded a label that draws on careful craftsmanship and fine artistic detail, resulting in stunning homewares I know you’ll fall for. But don’t just take it from me. Read all about Susan and her work below.

studio-8 Susan: My interest in textiles goes back many years, although not in a direct sense. I’ve always loved what handmade textiles bring to life, they add such richness, not only with their patterns, but with the way they feel. But it was not until recently that I decided to create a collection of textiles, myself. I’m self-taught, drawing upon my love of art, texture, history and artistic living.

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Holly: When did you start taking an interest in pattern and textile design, and what is your background?

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Holly: What led you to launch your business early this year? Has it been a long standing dream of yours?

Susan: Yes, it was longstanding- several years at least. The time didn’t feel right until last year, when I began spending time in my studio, trying to bring ideas to life as a collection. I had a basic idea of the look and feel I wanted, but it was only after I spent time working it through, test printing, and sampling ground cloths, that it really took shape. It was also really important that the items were environmentally responsible, and domestically produced. It also took a long time to develop the printing method I use to convey the type of printed detail I was looking for –  it was worth it, and I really enjoyed that time of experimenting.

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Holly: How would you describe your aesthetic and how did you develop your style?

Susan: My aesthetic is a blend of artistic detail, careful craftsmanship, and modern, relaxed minimalism. It reflects my own style as a person, not just in how I look or dress, but in the attitude I take in life. I try and see beauty in life’s details, try not to be a blind consumer, but instead, to ornament life with meaningful things that connect to something deeper. In general, I prefer things with a bit of texture, things that feel good, and styles that are easy to make your own.

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Holly: What or who inspires your creative process? How do you channel your inspiration?

Susan: Making art has always been really important for me. Over time, this has meant that I’ve learned to find wealth in unexpected sources. This outlook, seeking beauty, even in simple, uncelebrated things, is part of my creative process and my inspiration, and something I enjoy sharing with others. I’m an artist at heart. Working with my hands, getting into the studio, trying to see things in a new or different way, really inspires me. 

Holly: Could you describe your production process?

Susan: My designs usually start with a sketchbook drawing- a very tiny one. Then, I will work to build a larger drawing that’s more detailed to be carved onto a block. Fabric sourcing is also a huge aspect of production, because certain fabrics pair better with certain designs, and I’m very picky about the hand feel of my textiles. We also prewash all of our fabrics, to make sure they’re supple for printing. Once the fabric and design style are set, we get to ink mixing and printing, which is done in New York, by hand, for each item. After printing, items are finished, sewn or fringed, and pressed. There’s a lot of handwork involved, but to me, that’s important and it’s something you really feel in the finished product.

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Holly: What does a typical day look like in the life of Susan Connor?

Susan: Morning is my favorite time, definitely when I’m the most inspired and excited. Usually I go running before I do anything else, then it’s coffee and the subway to my studio in Bushwick. I usually spend the day there, and save the evening for socializing or spending time with my boyfriend, whom I live with. He’s an amazing cook and usually, I can’t wait to get home and enjoy a good meal with my guy and a glass of wine. For me, evenings and work don’t mix – I save the evening to unwind and kick back, either at home or out to dinner with friends.

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Holly: What do you love most about your work?

Susan: I love working with ideas, the inspirations behind the look and feel. I’m really into a kind of relaxed, come-as-you-are, natural style that I am constantly trying to express in my pieces, and, actually, in almost everything I do as a person. I want to create pieces that feel super comfortable, but with a level of detail that shows someone really cared about making them, an attention that makes them feel special when a customer incorporates them into their own space. 

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Holly: What designers of today inspire you?

Susan: I actually try hard not to look at what other designers are doing. I’m much more inspired by nature, or historical references, like jewellery from antiquity, vintage textiles, or artists with super long careers – my pinterest boards definitely reflect that! I love the work of Agnes Martin, Georgia O’Keefe, Pablo Picasso, Louise Bourgeois, Lucie Rie, and Gertrude Vasegaard…so many great artists…and I love looking at photos of artists in their studios, seeing them creating their work, in their space, being themselves, being free. That’s so beautiful.

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Susan, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and experiences with us all today. You are immensely talented and I can’t w3ait to see your next collection when it launches soon!

Isn’t Susan absolutely inspiring, and what about work? Absolutely gorgeous, right? I want {need} a cushion in every colour! I love her bohemian modern style, and the natural textures she uses. But most inspiring I think is Susan’s artistic process and how her designs seem to organically take form as if born from something deep and profound and born out of significance as opposed to merely pattern on fabric. The love that goes into this product is almost palpable.

I hope you also enjoyed this little peek into Susan Connor’s world and I’ll be back shortly with a dreamy, Autumnal shoot you are going to positively swoon over, plus news of a new workshop I’ll be running at the end of the month! For now, I’m off to Madrid this evening to shoot two gorgeous apartments.

H x

// All images courtesy of Susan Connor

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