Umami* of Nantucket | Susan Zises Green
By Sara Boyce
Susan Zises Green is a New York based interior designer who summers on Nantucket. 2013 was her second year as Moderator and Coordinator of the Designer Panel at the Nantucket Historical Association’s Antiques & Design Show. This is the first in a series of interviews with the designers who participated in the show as an exhibitor or panelist.
What is your Design Style?
My style varies with each client and project. It is not “cookie cutter”.
What was your first big break into the business and do you have any advice for younger designers?
The exposure that I received participating in the 1978 Kips Bay Decorator Showhouse. I have now participated in nine of them. Also, being on the front page of the New York Times Home section in 1978 helped enormously.
The annual Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club Decorator Show House started in 1973, receives up to 20,000 guests each year, and has raised over $17 million for the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club serving 12,000 young people at 10 Bronx locations.
“Each year, celebrated interior designers transform a luxury Manhattan home into an elegant exhibition of fine furnishings, art and technology. This all began in 1973 when several dedicated supporters of the Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club launched the Kips Bay Decorator Show House to raise funds for much needed after school and enrichment programs for New York City children. Over the course of four decades, this project has grown into a must-see event for thousands of design enthusiasts and is renowned for sparking interior design trends throughout the world.”
What advice would you give a client who has a limited budget but wants your input?
Have a long-range design plan with me and budget a yearly expense to get the project completed.
What is the most interesting or challenging home you’ve designed?
The ones I am currently working on! Every project has a challenge – some are inherent in the project which you may see right away. Some creep up on you. Decorating is all about creativity and creativity also solves the challenge.
Where (or from whom) do you get your creative inspiration?
From both of my parents. My father’s spatial ability was fabulous and my mother has always had beautiful homes and has a great eye for color and beauty.
What are your “go to” sources | lines | manufacturers for quality furnishings and fabrics?
Most of what we do is custom, so there are no ‘lines’ that we use. Even many of our fabrics and floor coverings are custom made.
What makes the difference between a good designer and a great designer?
A great designer listens to their client – the job is not about the designer’s ego, but a reflection of and the satisfaction of the client. A great designer is one who works with their clients, not ‘for’ their clients. It is or should be a collaboration between two parties.
Is there anything significant in how you would approach a Nantucket project versus projects off island?
Simply to be as professional and efficient here as I am off island. This island certainly has its challenges, but we have done a number of projects here and have not had any problems. Happily, we do have very satisfied clients.
How do you work with a client who has different tastes than yours?
Clients generally call my office because they like my taste and want my guidance.
Susan’s work has appeared in the following publications:
Susan adds, “I am included in many ‘coffee table’ books and am presently writing my own decorating book.”
More of Susan Zises Green’s work can be seen at: www.susanzisesgreen.com.
*”Umami” is something the Japanese recognize as the 5th flavor, in addition to sweet, salty, sour, and bitter. A nuanced word, one could define it as the “je ne sais quoi” that deepens flavor, the experience, and imparts satisfaction and sensory delight. To me, it’s “that which makes Nantucket special”.
Mahon About Town’s Food, Wine, and Drink Editor, Sara Boyce has been working in the luxury market since she visited Nantucket for a “three-week” visit after 9/11. As an Art Dealer turned “Lady in Chief” at Grey Lady Wines, Sara indulges her passions of bringing people together over food, wine, beauty, and travel. Grey Lady Wines specializes in boutique wine recommendations and Private Collections, but Sara feels the best glass of wine is always that shared with friends, ideally before dancing. This article originally appeared in the October 8, 2013 version of Mahon About Town.
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