BY LYNN MORGAN
Los Angeles-based interior designer Suzanne Furst, ASID, walks deftly between two design worlds. Her eponymous company, Suzanne Furst Interiors, has specialized in high-end residential design for more than 20years. She has recently formed another company in collaboration with a long time friend and PR executive which they have aptly named ”Collaborative House.” They are currently working on several commercial as well as historic restoration projects, and have accepted commissions to design interiors for government-subsidized housing for the disadvantaged.
It is an extraordinary, surprising and deeply satisfying mix for the accomplished designer. “My all-time favorite project was a government-subsidized public housing development on LA’s Skid Row,” she says. “It was a group of residences for people who had been long-term homeless who were all over the age of fifty. Our innovative approach of design with style was completely new to government-subsidized housing. We used warm and vibrant colors, and made the residences and public areas inviting and comfortable. This made such a positive impact on the residents; it changed their attitudes about their lives and gave them a sense of finally belonging. This was more than a design project; it made me feel as if I was contributing to the well-being of our community.”
Currently, Suzanne is at work on another design project for government subsidized housing through “Collaborative House”: restoring a 1926 Beaux Arts YMCA building in South Los Angeles, originally designed by renowned architect Paul Williams. This project will provide 49 housing units for both low income and disabled individuals. It will also serve the community youth, as it was originally designed to do.
Suzanne’s schedule is a hectic one, running two companies while juggling her family life and finding time for travel worldwide and to her favorite haunts in Italy and Mexico. Her homes in West Los Angeles and Malibu are full of art, sculptures, antiques and accessories purchased on her trips.
In spite of her commitments, Suzanne has always found the time to fulfill her number one passion, which is to help those in need, through her generosity and her desire to give back to the community in many different ways. She has always connected her design talents with philanthropy.
Born in New York City, Suzanne is the only child of parents who immigrated from Eastern Europe. Suzanne spent her childhood in Manhattan, where she was introduced to art, theatre and culture. This life experience instilled within her a home-town pride of being a native New Yorker, where she frequently returns to visit. In her early teens, her parents moved to sunnier skies in Los Angeles, where she met her high school sweetheart, with whom she was later married and started a family.
Suzanne did not discover her design sensibility until remodeling her house for her growing family when she was in her thirties. “I was always creative”, she recalls, “but I didn’t think of it in terms of a profession.” She attended UCLA to study for her design degree.
Suzanne is now a well regarded interior designer and past president of the American Society of Interior Designer’s Los Angeles chapter. She received their highest chapter honor- a Medalist Award - as well as their Design Excellence Award. Her office wall boasts numerous plaques of distinction for both her professional and charitable contributions.
She has worked on many projects from Malibu through tony Los Angeles, and beyond Southern California. Her clients include figures in the entertainment industry, doctors, college professors, attorneys and an East Coast president and CEO of a Fortune 500 company, as well as a bi-coastal couple. But she prefers to work on the West Coast. “LA is the most progressive city, and the most open to new ideas. People here are looking for a more relaxed and comfortable lifestyle.”
Suzanne credits the success of her award-winning firm to her design philosophy of beginning every job as a clean palette with no preconceptions. She is mindful of her clients’ needs and her goal is always to give them more than they even hoped for. “I am always gratified when I provide my clients with new and exciting living or working environments that uplift them on an emotional level.”
“Obviously, I enjoy doing high-end residential projects, which are more rewarding financially,” she says, “but I love working on projects that serve the community, as this kind of reward is priceless. I am blessed to be able to use my talents to help others.”