My new favourite series is back! A couple of weeks ago I started a new series called 'Documenting the Process' where I visit some of my favourite creators, makers and curators and spend some time photographing them behind the scenes. I am fascinated with how people work, and what I've come to find is that there are some people who are really good at sharing the beginning and the end of their work/processes/ideas but nothing in the middle. The journey is my favourite part, and that's what I want to share with you.
My second interview is with Carrie who is an interior designer based in Edinburgh...
Describe yourself in five words... Able, independent, gutsy, attentive and creative
Tell us a bit more about you and your background... I'm originally from St. Louis, Missouri. I studied fine art at Columbia College in Chicago and graduated in 1997. I have majored in photography & painting. I moved to Edinburgh in 2003, having spent six years travelling - which sounds a bit grand, but the majority of that was spent teaching English in Taiwan. I set up as a freelancer when I arrived in Edinburgh and mostly worked on photoshoots, but in 2005 I landed a volunteer position at Stills and from that emerged a six year long career working for the organisation in various managerial roles. Towards the end of my time at Stills I took an interest in sewing, galvanised in a small community of like-minded people and launched a series of pop-up weekend or hacker-spaces called The Stitch Lounge. Although these proved popular and a huge amount of fun, my idea to open a permanent sewing cafe slowly faded. In 2011, I left Stills, having decided to dip my toes in the corporate sector, and emerged with a senior role in a digital marketing agency. My four years with the agency was indeed eye opening and financially rewarding, but by the beginning of 2015 I knew another career change beckoned.
How did you get into interior design? It's absolutely linked to buying my first home. In 2008, I bought a one bedroom flat in Leith and the day after getting the keys I found myself on route back from B&Q laden with a crow bar and a ladder. The feeling that I owned this property, that I could do anything to it, I could make it exactly as i wanted it, was pure joy. It took me a fair few years to get it right, but this creative process was instrumental in strengthening my interior design skills, as well as honing a hands on understanding of trades. Tiling is not as easy as it looks, trust me! In 2014, I moved in with my partner and began listing my flat on Airbnb. In 2015, I enrolled in a one year full time Interior Design course. Both my hosting experience and my course training gave me the next level confidence I needed to quit the day job and launch Carrie Susan Interiors in early 2016.
Can you explain your process when working... Plenty of consultation with the client for starters. It's a very collaborative process throughout and really important that there's chemistry. The home is such an emotional space and the process can be very personal. In many cases, it's a first home or a much needed extension for a growing family. We usually explore a huge range of ideas and possibilities at the start. Managing expectations and ensuring transparency are key. The next bit is when decisions start to take shape, a vision emerges and a large list of tasks arise. Staying very organised is so important. Once work begins; tradesmen onsite, products arriving, room styling, you really feel the energy and excitement. I look at a room or space the way I've always looked through the lens of a camera to compose a photograph. For me it's all about composition; everything has a place, every corner is considered and every detail exudes character.
What is your dream project? We'd love to build our own home; to purchase a few acres in the Scottish Borders or up and around the Highlands. That's the dream project. But, first things first, a camper van conversion so we have something to live in on the empty plot of land while we build.
What is important to you when you are creating/working? It's important to me to be tactile. It can be challenging with interiors, as most designers render everything on a computer, but I prefer pencils, pens, markers, paper and rulers. I love model making and I learned technical drawing by hand, so it's important for me to retain this ability to sketch and create my interior designs on paper and on boards. It feels so much more authentic, and I think clients engage with hand drawings on a much more emotional level.
What do you need most in life? Nature.
Read my first interview for Documenting the Process with Illustrator David Mahoney
To see more of my documentary and behind the scenes photography click here