While many would start their own interior design practice with the dream of becoming a household name, Susie Cohen has much humbler aspirations. “I am not striving to be prolific. I only take on a few wonderful projects each year and I love working in this way. It enables me to really enjoy the creative journey and it gives my clients a very fluid process.”
Having opened her studio, Made by Cohen, in 2005, Susie had previously studied interior design at Melbourne’s RMIT, before working full-time at Carr Design and Chris Connell Design, both experiences she found hugely rewarding. Yet after having her first child and buying an old warehouse in Windsor, Susie saw an opportunity to launch her own firm, with her very own house being the first project. “Still to this day, Made By Cohen’s biggest achievement was probably having my home and very first project, Windsor Warehouse, shortlisted in the 2009 Australian Interior Design Awards and then having it published in Vogue Living,” says Susie. “This was a wonderful way to celebrate the beginning of my business!”
Since then, she’s been shortlisted three more times for the Australian Interior Design Awards, as well as being a finalist in the IDEA Awards and the Houses Awards, both this year and last. One project in particular that gained a lot of that attention was her Victorian house in Armadale, which coincidently is also her favourite.
“I did this beautiful little single fronted Victorian house in collaboration with Robson Rak Architects, completing it in 2013. This project was built from a very solid foundation of trust. It’s very rare to have a client give you their design brief and then completely stand back and trust in the creative journey, but that is what they did, which was a huge compliment. The other key factor in this project was that the builder was a true craftsman with a huge respect for our drawings and design details. It was a beautiful journey, which naturally lead to a wonderful outcome.”
Working primarily on residential projects, because she loves the personal aspect, Susie and her team of one are currently working on two of these. “Both are very different from each other, which I love. The first is a 1930s Tudor-style home with extraordinary bones; including large archways and the most beautiful original sculptural stairwell at the entrance. The second is a lovely old double fronted Victorian built in 1910. Both have a wonderful brief!”
With an overall style that is generally one of simplicity, favouring the handmade and natural materials, Susie enjoys blending together architecture and interior features from different periods. “I have a love of working with old buildings as I enjoy the rich narrative between old and new.”
Since having children and starting her own business, Susie’s design process has very much changed. Now, having learnt to slow down and live in the moment, she has become inspired to absorb and reflect on everything around her and in doing so, created what she believes is her best work yet. “In the past, I’ve never loved working on six or more design projects at once as the design process always becomes fragmented. In taking on less work, I am able to give my clients a more fluid creative journey, and I personally find the design process richer and more layered as a result.”