Get set for summer with Susie Watson Designs

Meet Susie Watson whose gorgeous handmade homeware collection of cushions, bed linen, candles and more is lighting the way...Have you always had a passion for interiors?
Interiors and architectural design has always fascinated me. My husband Hamish and I had our own design and build company – rebuilding and refurbishing properties in central London. It was then that I took on design projects for other people, in particular designing kitchens and windows - it’s so rewarding to see how houses can be transformed, and the more horrible the house the more fascinating the remedy!

How did you go about setting up your own business?

I’ve always had an obsessive interest in looking at things and wondering why they don’t quite work. A lot of my ideas are based on the things that I’d like to be able to buy but can’t. I still judge things by whether I want them myself – a test that rarely lets me down! In 1998 Hamish and I bought a derelict freehold shop and flat that we refurbished with the idea that I would keep the shop for my own use. We ran the shop as a contemporary art gallery. It was an interesting and charming concept with none of the formality of mainstream galleries. During the first year I decided I wanted to design a range of everyday kitchen china with a studio feel and from this gallery we developed Susie Watson Designs to where it is now.

What inspires you?

I like informal, cosy houses where dogs can sit on the sofas and you don’t have to worry about keeping everything perfect. I never throw things away, so a lot of the things we own, we have had for a long time. 90% of our furniture and art has come from sale rooms and I am mad on reclamation centres too. All the interest and character goes out of it if you aren’t careful. We tend to hang on to everything until it’s completely worn out.

The landscape, natural colours and natural textures. All my colours are inspired by the outside – the trees, the fields, trips to the sea. I always start with colour and never use chemical colour. I love the changing of the seasons – the transformation between winter and summer never ceases to amaze me, particularly the water meadows, which seem so dead and then become so beautiful and lush. I always work with 100% cottons, linens, silks and velvets. The factories we work with are amazing at hand cutting and hand embroidery so we develop some wonderful cushions that are all pieces of art in their own right.

Three things you can live without?

My paintings – I have collected many over the years, mainly Modern British. The first paintings I ever collected were Victorian watercolours because they speak of the English countryside so beautifully.

A view – I never draw the curtains, because I can’t bear to wake up in a dark room.

And of course, my dogs.

Ideal weekend?

Having the children and grandchildren is pretty perfect, but if Hamish and I are on our own, I love the fact that I don’t have to rush up and can have breakfast in my dressing-gown and potter around without any urgency to get anything done. I might walk the dogs, pop into Marlborough and buy food in the market, and hopefully find time to enjoy the garden. I hate formal dinner parties – both giving them and going to them – but I do like relaxed supper parties with a few friends. Cooking is fun when there is no pressure and I can make the things I most like eating, such as simple stews or roasts.

Susie Watson Designs is at ACHICA this week. Check out her beautiful designs for the home here...

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Emily Peck, Editor

View all posts by Emily Peck, Editor