An interview with Suzanne Tick

By Steven A. Kordalski AIA posted 8 days ago


Suzanne Tick is the founder of Suzanne Tick Inc. specializing in materials, brand strategy and design development for commercial and residential interiors. She is known for her intelligent and enthusiastic approach to design in evolving markets, as well as her conviction to provide innovative solutions.

Suzanne has maintained a distinguished career as a textile designer, studio principal and consultant in New York City. She is currently Design Consultant for Tarkett, she serves as Creative Director at Luum and Design Partner with Skyline Design. In addition to her work in the industry, Suzanne maintains a hand weaving practice and creates woven sculptures from repurposed materials harking back to her childhood where she was raised working at the family scrap metal yard. Her work has been exhibited in MoMA, Cooper Hewitt, MAD and Art Basel, as well as collected by private and corporate clients.

Suzanne’s TedXNavesink Talk: “Weaving Trash into Treasure” presents her unique and personal approach to hand weaving.


How did you transition from being a weaver to a contract textile designer?

Before graduating from Iowa with a BFA I had perused my mother’s "Interiors" magazines, which she had as a set designer for the local community theater. I saw advertisements for all of these Textile Houses that stated NYC as their home base. I made calls my junior year of college and flew to NYC and met up with the companies that I felt stylistically I could produce patterns or structures for. It was the natural progression for me. I avoided the more residential companies with bouquets of cabbage roses. And focused on the more modern structural textiles companies focused on office interiors.


What is the connection between architecture and your approach to textile design?

Architecture looks like woven grid weave structures to me. The geometric, tectonic exterior structures of buildings reflect the interior structure of many of the woven patterns we design. I have to say over the years I still struggle with observing the separation of Interior Designer and Architect when meeting in firms. From my perspective, this connection happens too late in the process.

Holistically I would like to see that conversation take place much earlier so spatial constructs, finishes and materials can play an integral role in the end product. Not the materials being applied as the last process. Since realizing this connection was not there, I began using building structures as the inspiration to our weave structures to bring the exterior to the interior. Very subliminally. I’m pleased when designers and architects refer to my weave structures as being very architectural.


You work in other mediums beyond textiles including architectural glass and floorcoverings. What is the ethos behind your industry work? How do they relate?

Product design is about knowing the machinery and how each manufacturing process functions. I have honed in on my own particular, sequential relationship in the Product Development cycle for years. The obvious transition was from textiles to carpet. I started as a woven broadloom carpet designer and colorist in 1989. And then moved into tufting broadloom and then modular five years later. Now adding LVT to my kit of parts in 2015. I work with Tarkett on Flooring, Luum for Textiles and Skyline Design for Glass.

The floor is a huge expanse and can make or break an interior. It’s similar to wallcovering and creates an envelope for the entire space. Because we are structuralists I keep the mediums very textural, structural and architectural. I like my products to be the backdrop. Not taking center stage. I like the architecture of the space, the furniture and the spatial functioning of the space to be center stage.

I treat glass patterning in a similar fashion. With glass I like to problem solve issues like privacy with opacity and transparency. My role has been to make the glass feel soft through imagery. It’s been a joy to work on this medium in the studio. We have to flex different muscles.


Knowing what you know now—what advice would you give yourself earlier in your career?

As a product designer we get very attached to the products we are working on and are afraid to let go of them if and when they start failing for one reason or another. What I have learned over the years is that every product that is relevant for the time will have an effortless flow from the start of fiber development through color work and marketing introduction. It’s this effortless flow that we are looking for in all aspects of life.

I came to Vedic Meditation late in my career but within the timeline construct of when I was ready. I was too young for the Age of Aquarian generation when Maharishi Mahesh Yogi came to the west but had been impressed by my father’s interests in Eastern philosophies of all kinds. So, if I could turn back the clock, I would have started un-stressing my nervous system with twice a day 20-minute Vedic Meditation and would have found my true happiness from within me. And not stressed over every failure that took place. Perhaps instead of being a micro-managing control freak I would have been an adorable loving controller instead. :)

You can follow Tick Studio and Suzanne Tick on Instagram.