“I love the complexity and opportunity for problem-solving that working in interior design brings - it has never felt like the traditional notion of ‘work’ as an obligation,” says Suzanne Gorman. The world of interiors has always been a part of her life, she says. “My mother knows how to turn a house into a beautiful home - she has great style, which is all about colour, collected things, textiles.” Suzanne grew up in a Sydney home that was decorated with Marimekko blinds and a copper rangehood, and the place was styled “before it was a thing”. While Suzanne’s working life began as a kindergarten teacher, she slowly moved across to interiors. “It took me a while to realise that interior design came quite naturally to me and that I could do it for other people too,” she says. Now, she is about to move into new offices and start hiring staff for Studio Gorman, following a run of positive press - including having her work featured in publications such as Belle - and plenty of word-of-mouth recommendations. “For me, it’s a delight to design people’s homes,” she says.
Which five words best describe you? Curious, deep-thinker, determined, fair, independent, sensitive.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? My sister was instrumental in starting my career in design. She believed in my designs before I recognised my own my skills. She secretly showed my sketches of floorplans and doodles of houses to Rachel Castle, who subsequently encouraged me and gave me the confidence to work in design. I began studying interior design for several years and I found private residential clients immediately. Initially these were friends of my sister’s and Rachel’s so I was very lucky and then clients just kept coming quite organically. My focus is residential design and small hospitality projects. I have recently rebranded to become Studio Gorman (previously Suzanne Gorman Projects) and am in the process of relocating my work space out of our home and into a sunny studio in Crows Nest. The studio will allow me the space to gather a small team of designers, with the notion that more goodness will follow.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? I am drawn towards other designers, architects and entrepreneurs whose work I hold in high esteem. Often I go to great lengths to introduce myself to these admired people and then I end up asking them a million questions. People don’t believe me when I say that I am naturally introverted but it’s simply that my desire to learn is stronger than my fear. I have “stalked” many designers, learnt much and am fortunate to count several as friends now. Recently I was lucky enough to spot the renowned Australian architect Russell Jack in my neighbourhood - I followed him for a bit and then said hello. Pretty quickly we struck up a great conversation about Modernism, how to capture light in buildings and other minute details we both enjoy. I try not to let these opportunities pass. It is so important to ask questions - no one is expected to know everything. I’ve also learnt that if I am ever stuck for an idea or feel my mind spinning with too many ideas - both happen - then bench-wiping can be very meditative and clarity will usually follow.
What’s your proudest career achievement? A very special moment happened recently when a client sent me a simple text, “Have been sending photos to my sister-in-law of our progress with renovations and realised how lovely it is - and that it is all down to you! Thank you!”. A simple thank you can be everything.
What’s been your best decision? To mime in the school choir.
Who inspires you? Children inspire and teach me. I used to teach kindergarten for a decade, which was a career I loved. I believe in the natural altruism of children - they earnestly operate out of genuine concern for others. It’s magical to observe. My own children have brought me inspiration in abundance, of course. It’s a lovely quirk of science, how children improve upon their parents’ DNA.
What are you passionate about? Architecture, art, authenticity, Sunday sleep-ins and breakfasts out, family, cleanliness and disco.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Michael Leunig - he is my rockstar. He has a canny knack for combining art, humour and poetry to provoke deep thought. I wonder if he might come on a bushwalk with me and we’d banter about the ironies and wonders of the universe? I’d tell him that we read his poetry for our wedding vows. I’d think he’d be chuffed and then our paths would diverge.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? I’d love to design a boutique hotel and fill it with Australian art.
What are you reading? I tend to read several books at once although I can only manage one one novel at a time. Right now my novel is The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton, plus lots of non fiction including Daring & Disruptive - unleashing the entrepreneur by Lisa Messenger, Quiet - the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking by Susan Cain, The Australian Ugliness by Robin Boyd and Owning It - a creative’s guide to copyright, contract and the law.
images courtesy of suzanne gorman; photography jason busch (1, 4), sean fennessy and zan wimberley (2, 3)