LF+DG: Sue, thank you so much for making time to answer some questions about your design practice. What is your background and what are your credentials?
Ziehler: Interior Design has always been instinctual for me. Since childhood, I have been designing all my living spaces with great effect. Five years ago my position as a corporate vice president was downsized. I took this opportunity to define interior design as a new career. I attended Heritage School of Interior Design in Beaverton and started Sue Ziehler, Inc., Interior Design. I had been blessed with several years of experience with a startup company so I understood the importance of business plans, marketing, execution and maintenance of client loyalty. My clients are impressed with my professionalism and ability to communicate their style into their living spaces. In July, I joined the design team at En Vogue Interiors in Beaverton. It is a vibrant design environment guaranteed to produce some remarkable things.
LF+DG: Who or what has been an influence in your design?
Ziehler: As a young woman, I had the privilege to work for a few old-world wealthy families. I also had the fortune to live in Europe for a time. These experiences fostered my appreciation for architectural detail, art and fine furniture. Don't get me wrong, I do not like stuffy old things. But I appreciate classicism and believe all spaces should have at least one piece of antiquity, something with a past. I am influenced by quality materials and craftsmanship. My favorite designer is Naomi Leff (member of the Interior Design Hall of Fame and responsible for the Ralph Lauren store image). She can make an apartment look like an ocean liner.
LF+DG: How do you define good design?
Ziehler: All the principles of design notwithstanding, good design works like a magnet to the homeowner, moving them to desire to be in their living spaces more than anywhere else. I am a true believer in the adage that "form follows function". Get the function down and the feeling right and you have a winner.
LF+DG: If I were to hire you to decorate my home, would people who visit say, "Ah, this is a Sue Ziehler home?"
Ziehler: Doubtful. But there are definite similarities. "Ease of care" is important to me. Therefore my designs tend to be uncluttered. This gives my clients the opportunity to easily keep their spaces the way they always want them to be, whether they are a slob or not.
LF+DG: Do you come up with a presentation board?
Ziehler: Not in the traditional sense. I use computerized tools to help sell a concept, both two dimensional and three dimensional. Accompanied by samples or photographs, I use these tools to build a project binder.
LF+DG: How do you charge for your services?
Ziehler: After considerble self-debate, I choose to charge a design fee based on square footage. Clients are often skeptial of open-ended hourly charges and clients do not understand how much time it takes to consider a design. My flat rate covers room layouts and choice of any hard surfaces. In addition, I take a standard mark-up on all purchases and I surcharge anything that is purchased at retail.
LF+DG: What other creative things do you do?
Ziehler: Creative? Not sure that describes what I like to do. I am an avid sports fan. (Thank God for TiVo.) I love to cook, garden, collect art and read.
But most of all, I love a pop opera quartet called IL DIVO.