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forristal picForristal Smith Interiors was founded in 1998.  I had moved on from my previous career incarnations (model, actress, world traveler and the owner of a small art gallery, Gallery Lafayette) and was looking for a new challenge.  I had bought an apartment, as an investment, a few years earlier and had to renovate it completely. The ceiling was falling in; there was barely a kitchen or a bathroom.  “Derelict” is what the bank had called it.  I worked with a friend, Nord Haggerty, who was a designer and an artist to bring it back to its original condition.  The building had been used as the civil war hospital and had a wonderful quirkiness to it.  After 3 months of intense work, it was finished.  I decided to move in instead of sell it.  It was beautiful.  I gave a house warming party and when one of my oldest friends saw it, she declared that this is what my new career should be.  I had worked with the amazing decorator, Geoffrey Bennison, years before and had learned so much from him and from Nord; I decided to try it.
      My first professional decorating job was with Bret Easton Ellis.  Bret had a sunny loft in the east village, where he’d lived for a few years.  He lived like a college student--a futon on the floor, books piled everywhere and no sofa!  He wanted to live and work comfortably in the same place.  The results were published in Elle Décor’s Work/Home issue (February 1999).    Another project, for his friend, Candace Bushnell, couldn’t have been more different.  Elle Décor gave us the cover and the lead story in their September 2006 issue called “The New Glamour”.  Over the last ten years I have completed a wide range of work, a pied a terre on Madison Avenue, a penthouse on the East River, houses in East Hampton, a cottage in Amagansett, and many more.  I’ve worked with the renown English designer, John Stefanidis over a couple of years, on a country club in Ohio, a ranch in Colorado and an spacious apartment at 15 CPW.
     When asked to define my style, it’s a difficult question to answer.  Beautiful things can come from anywhere, any period for any price and can work well together if properly edited.  I find that a single piece can be my inspiration for an entire project…a color, an unusual carpet, a beautiful bed or a painting.  Each project is unique and in the end, it’s important that the finished product reflects my client’s sensibilities, not my own.  

—SUSAN FORRISTAL