Who among us hasn’t coveted an Open Spaces Entryway Rack? Pattern Brands (parent company of Open Spaces) co-founder and chief business officer Suze Dowling knows a thing or two about decor—and what makes a house feel like a home. As a child, the Australia native would save up to splurge on Architectural Digest and Elle Decor. Today, she loves creating design-forward goods for everyday living. Suze isn’t afraid to make bold choices in her personal and professional life—and her decor. People are always surprised when she reveals that she decided to move halfway around the world, having never visited the United States before! A decade later, she’s proud to call New York City her forever home. Here, we caught up with Suze to learn about her favorite space in her Tribeca apartment, how she embraces “restrained drama,” her color palette, artwork choices and more.
Tell us about your favorite space in your home.
I live in a small one-bedroom apartment in Tribeca, New York, so my living space is my “everything”—dining, relaxation, office, all in one. When I first toured the apartment, I fell in love with the natural sunlight streaming through the windows. While the view is of a cityscape, the light made it feel like it—and I—could breathe.
I work from home, so this space truly is used nearly every hour of the day. In a pre-COVID world, I couldn’t imagine not being in our office on the Bowery. Now, we’re fully remote, and I can’t imagine having to ever go back into an office. With the long hours I work, it’s nice to be able to do so in comfy clothes and with my cat sitting by my side.
The moment I walk in the door, I feel at peace. To me, so much of what makes home “home” is a feeling. It’s where I feel my most comfortable and authentic self; I’m a true homebody. I’ve tried to create a space that captures light, draws your eye, and engages your senses.
Tell us about the design choices, decor, accessories. We’re assuming there’s lots of Pattern!
Haha, there are lots of our Pattern brands and products—you can’t go more than a few feet in my apartment without coming across something of ours, from my candles to storage gems, glassware, bins and baskets, and more. It’s all woven into the details of the design. Honestly, I’ve been obsessed with homewares since I was three years old. I used to save up my pocket money to buy secondhand interior design magazines. I would sit in the corner and devour them.
The design choices are a mixture of classic and timeless, organic, neutral-toned designs, with some quirkier pieces that make me smile when I look at them. I think design is one of those things that you shouldn’t be too serious about. You should simply curate items that you love and that make you feel something.
There’s still so much about the space that I feel is unfinished, but that’s the beauty of this, it’s an ongoing and evolving process. I have a light fixture that I’m very excited to arrive in the next few months. After that I will be saving up to design a statement side console. It’s all a work in progress.
How did you come up with this color palette?
I’ve always leaned towards keeping a neutral color palette with black, gray, cream, and white. However, with this space, I also wanted to bring in some bolder choices in the palette as it is those little punctuations of “gentle color” that bring me joy. I largely incorporated this through small accessories, flowers and greenery, and quite colorful artwork. For me, there’s nothing sadder than a bare wall, and a room that feels transient. Artwork helps ground a space and brings your personality into it.
I try to have fresh flowers throughout the space as often as possible. Having nature and greenery is a trick I learned from my co-founder, Emmett, who always dreamed of having an office head-to-toe draped in plants. While I don’t have very much of a green thumb, I do appreciate having a plant or two in my apartment… and I’ve managed to keep my two fiddle-leaf figs alive for over a year, so I feel I deserve a medal of some sort!
Is there a theme/motif for this space?
Restrained drama! I have a favorite interior designer who says his work is “restrained drama”…. and I’d like to think my interior aesthetic reflects this or tries to. It’s all about warm minimalism, soft curvature, and bringing personality into the room. There’s emotion in it.
Any interesting stories about how you sourced any of the items?
I’ve splurged on a few investment pieces for the space—my rug is from The Rug Company, and is a custom Waves rug in Citron by Adam Hunter. The pattern is inspired by the waves of the Pacific Ocean. I originally saw it in a photo on Instagram and couldn’t get it out of my head. It took several months of looking at the picture daily before I was brave enough to take the plunge. It was an interesting choice for me, as it was the first time I realized how much a rug can ground your design (literally and figuratively). It feels and looks sumptuous.
I also love my hand-made hammered bronze benches from Jean De Merry—they are a “forever” piece, though my cat Buttons tries to sneakily use them as a scratching post, much to my chagrin. It was nearly a year-long wait from when I placed the order to delivery…but well worth it! The curved bronze base feels like an art piece. There is such beauty in their simplicity.
The dining chairs I purchased secondhand when Eleven Madison Park—a restaurant here in New York — was selling them due to wear and tear. At the time, Eleven Madison Park was the number-one restaurant in the world, so I always joke that you’re eating at a world-class restaurant when sitting at my dining table. They were designed by Allied Works, with the series featuring elegant lines and curves, and subtle material contrasts. They are practically indestructible (no matter how much Buttons tries to destroy them), and are the most comfortable seat I’ve sat in.
Another favorite item is a 1960s Murano glass bowl. My co-founder’s sister runs an incredible interior-sourcing business, The Setting, and curated it for me in Paris at the Saint-Ouen market. The bowl combines sinuous lines and incredible Sommerso technique with deep purples, blues, and pinks. You get lost looking at it and truly feel transported to another time and place.
Many of the art pieces, alongside key furniture—including my coffee table—were sourced from Etsy. I’m a huge fan of spending hours on end going down deep Etsy rabbit holes! The plaster David sculpture arrived totally decapitated, but it was nothing that a little super glue couldn’t fix. It’s one of my favorite “moments” in the space and made all the more special by my two-day super glue experience to bring it together.
How would you describe your space in three words?
Warm, minimalist, unexpected.