Here at Floor Coverings International Monmouth County, we are privileged to interview some of America’s leading designers and bloggers as part of our Designer Influencer Interview Series. Our goal is to give our readers valuable design advice they can apply to their own homes. We are confident that you will gain some inspiration from longtime design pro Susan Serra, who runs a thriving business and website called The Kitchen Designer. You can follow Susan on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and Pinterest.
Please tell us a little about yourself.
Much of my adult life has been centered around that magical place – the kitchen. I’ve been fortunate to have owned and operated Susan Serra Associates, Inc., my kitchen and bath design studio, for over 25 years, serving the New York Tristate area, particularly Long Island as well as working on projects around the US and beyond. At this moment in my career, I am able to combine my vast experience in kitchen design with my continuing interest, as a frequent traveler, in what’s happening in kitchen design around the globe. I am a speaker on kitchen design, a go-to source for the media on kitchen design, a kitchen industry brand consultant, and my work has been published since the 1990s in books, design magazines, news publications and in many prestigious online design publications. I do full service kitchen design as well as hourly consultations via video chats and using other digital resources.
Why did you decide to start a blog? What do you enjoy about blogging?
At the time I started my blog, I had approximately 15 years of experience and felt I could contribute some of my knowledge on the entirety of the kitchen remodeling process to those who are searching for information. While I take breaks on my blog from time to time, quite frankly, what I enjoy best about blogging is that I am the Editor In Chief! My content comes directly from my point of view as a kitchen design professional, a female, a cook, a mother, a licensed contractor, a business owner and as a continuing student of design. I’ve been a mentor to designers over the years and enjoy sharing pieces of the kitchen design process, of which there are 100s of pieces.
How would you describe your design style?
My design inspiration is part of my identity. As a first generation Danish-American, I have grown up in a household with Scandinavian traditions, furnishings, etc. via both my parents’ immigration to the US. I’ve been to Denmark and neighboring regions to visit family from the time I was a child until, well, this summer’s vacation in Copenhagen! My home is entirely Scandinavian inspired, yet, of course with just as much an American influence – best of both worlds! To be more specific, a mix of modern and vintage, a large collection of Scandinavian and American art, my Swedish rugs that I select in Sweden (see my other brand, Scandinavian Made) and my personal Scandi ceramics collection is where it’s at for me.
Why do you have an interest in kitchens?
The kitchen is, as I often say, “where all five senses reside.” It’s a soulful place, there’s no getting away from that. We take part in activities of gathering, preparing and cooking food, but it’s not that simple. These activities are often expressed via our food experiences or family history, our creative side, our interest in perfecting skills and methods of cooking and so on. Beyond cooking, the kitchen is a social gathering place, a workplace, a spot for projects and homework and more. But, let’s not forget, it’s also where we live life – we love, fight, and work things out at the kitchen table. We sign contracts and study our kids’ report cards. I have a deep interest in behaviors that take place in the kitchen, I love the analytical/design and aesthetic processes of kitchen design. Right/left brain use – perfect!
Tell us about a recent project you’re proud of.
My own kitchen was recently completed. It’s one of the most difficult projects for a designer – to design their own space! An important part of my philosophy is that aesthetics and function must be equal players. That is how the soul or emotion can seamlessly blend into the design. Therefore, sometimes storage must be sacrificed for a kitchen that is not only utilitarian but aesthetically fulfilling. Form follows function is not always the best design philosophy.