Name: Susan Knof
Company: KNOF design
Position within company: Creative Director and Owner
. Tell us a little about your background in design (education, experience, etc)
My design background has been varied, yet consistent.
I initially studied Psychology prior to switching to Interior Architecture/Design and graduated with Honors from Miami University. I minored in ceramics, sculpture, and metals and studied at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. Upon graduation, I worked at large practices, such as Gensler and TPG Architects in New York City. From there I progressed to smaller and smaller firms to allow me to experience all facets of the design and construction process. I also spent time as a Professor at Berkeley College. After living amongst the devastation on September 11th, I took a short career detour to Hawaii where I volunteered with Habitat for Humanity to help build a home for a native Hawaiian family on the island of Oahu.
I love all elements of design from the more fluid art and design aspects to the structural and technical components. I have worked in all sectors of interiors from corporate to commercial, hospitality to residential. I am happy where I am now with a primary focus on residential interiors, it’s very personal and rewarding.
. How would you describe your personal interior design style?
My personal interior design style revolves around balance and harmony through contrast. When the building is a modern new build I like the interior scheme to add warmth through materials and eclectic furnishings. Whereas if the framework is in a historical context, I like the interiors to be clean and modern so the contrast can highlight the beauty of both extremes. I love creating spaces that enhance moods and tell individual stories. I tend to use soft calming colours and lots of natural light. My projects are psychology based- I want a space to evoke a feeling and mood. When you build something and you can feel it, you come alive!
I will never forget the first time I stepped foot in The Pantheon, it was an overwhelmingly spiritual feeling. The Pantheon radiates order, peace, harmony, and unity complete with a central oculus connecting the visitor to the heavens. It’s magic!
. Where does your design inspiration come from?
My inspiration primarily comes from people and travel. When I feel happy I am inspired. My niece and nephews are so pure and enthusiastic on their view of the world. I love when I get to see them experience something for the first time. The beauty in life I think is to keep your eyes clean and clear and try to witness routine experiences with new light. When you can do that, endless inspiration is absolutely everywhere.
In what direction do you feel that design is moving towards in a general sense? Incredibly bespoke. global, and sustainable. I am an American designer living in the UK working with a Bulgarian team on a project in Angola – it really doesn’t get much more global than that!
. Name five key themes to consider when approaching design in 2015 and beyond.
1. How will it make you feel?
2. Can it be more environmental?
3. Who is going to be a fun and reliable team to work with?
4. What can we do different?
5. How can we improve?
. If you could offer one piece of advice when it comes to interior design schemes, what would it be?
Let the outdoors in. Nature creates positive space, light and views. Above all, wholeheartedly enjoy the process. Anything created in love is a success!
. How important are The International Design and Architecture Awards as recognition of talent and achievement?
The International Design and Architecture awards are a brilliant time to pause and reflect and be grateful. We are lucky! We design, create, and build. I know I can be guilty of intense focus and passion happily moving from one great project to the next. It is nice to take the time to pause and reflect on personal achievement and those of our inspiring peers. I truly love architecture and design, it is so nice to share that passion with others.
. What projects are you currently working on?
A 7,300 sf Victorian conversion in London, A lakeside family home nestled in the commuter outskirts of Manhattan, and a 7,500sf new build Balinese style beach house in Western Africa. Three continents, I know!
. What are your aims and goals for the next twelve months?
Foster and mentor a nice team that loves the process as much as I do. Continue making solid connections. Travel and be Inspired. Keep the work life scales even. I would love to work on a small boutique hotel or restaurant.
. Final thoughts; tell us a little more about yourself
Your most treasured possession?
My most treasured possession is a multi-toned gold bracelet given to me by my grandmother before she passed away. She was a well traveled and incredibly stylish woman. She was tender, yet strong. It has become a good luck charm of sorts. I like to think that when I wear this bracelet I radiate her positive energy and attributes. In my career I have attended some rather intimidating meetings at large board room tables with a male to female ratio generally 10:1. I have travelled to some developing areas and I have worked with heads of state and celebrities. I think it is always important to stay grounded and remember who you are . The bracelet is an important reminder of where I came from and who I value.
Your favourite holiday destination?
One? You are asking the wrong woman! Hawaii, Fuertaventura, Italy, New York, Cape Cod, Croatia, India, Holland, Sweden, and Devon.
Your favourite hotel / restaurant / bar?
Hotel: Therme Vals by Peter Zumthor, It’s actually still a dream, I haven’t been yet. But, my heart beats a little faster when I look at it. The man is a genius.
Restaurant: Tian in Vienna
Bar: Roialto or Bar Basso in Milan
Your favourite book / film / song?
Film: The Big Blue
Song: I’m on Fire|Bruce Springsteen
Your favourite food and drink?
Fish tacos with extra avocado and a Negroni.
Your favourite way to spend an afternoon? (in no more than 25 words)
Yoga at sunrise, a long swim then paddleboarding or kayaking. In the late afternoon we would sit for lunch which would segway into dinner, surrounded by good friends, family, food and music.
If you weren’t a designer, what would you be?
A woman with free-time! Or a National Geographic Photographer. My father has every issue of the magazine. I grew up surrounded by stacks and stacks of this bright yellow periodical. As a child, I loved sitting on the floor of our small town New Jersey living room just flipping the pages, admiring the beautiful images of people and places and travelling in my mind. And now my father shares articles with me of places I am travelling to or have been, it’s incredible!
Anything else interesting?
I think I’ve said enough.