Behind the Scenes with Design Icon Suzanne Tucker
Suzanne Tucker began her career with legendary California designer Michael Taylor before founding her own firm, Tucker & Marks. In addition to her perennial presence on the AD 100 list, her accomplishments include her sumptuous Suzanne Tucker Home textile line, a collection of china for Royal Limoges and, most recently, her second book, Interiors: The Romance of Design (Monacelli Press).
You began your career in fashion, what inspired the transition to interiors? I had a degree in design, and it was my dream to draught and draw. So I answered an ad in the London papers and was hired by Peter Hood, one of [legendary British interior designer] John Fowler's right-hand men. It was a small office, so I was doing everything; it was a fabulous immersion for me.
When you returned to San Francisco, you began working for Michael Taylor, who was notoriously volatile. How was that? I was the only one who talked back and stood up to him! Ultimately, he took me under his wing. I was very fortunate and very fond of him. He was my mentor. I’ve definitely done my own thing, but I’ll find I still invoke him and ask myself, “What would he do in this space?”
What lessons did he teach you? The importance of scale and proportion. He didn’t believe it could be taught, either you had it or you didn’t. I’ve won bets about things being off by an eighth of an inch.
Your own fabric collection debuted in 2010. Can you pick a favorite? I suppose it’s the Hatley, which is named after my daughter. It’s a finely woven linen printed with stylized leaves, trailing vines and branches. I love how the colors play together.
Your San Marco china collection for Royal Limoges is exquisite; how does your love of beautiful table settings continue to evolve? I just bought a dozen beautiful vintage Haviland plates at the Alameda flea market! I've bought some Pamela Harriman plates as well, as well as pieces from Brooke Astor and Tony Duquette. I'm sentimental; I love the provenance of things.
Where do you go to recharge? We have a house in Montecito. It's 1,200 square feet, very simple—everything is covered in white cotton duck. It's very peaceful for me.
Where do you get inspiration? Put me on a plane and take me traveling!
A version of this article appeared in the March 2014 issue of San Francisco Cottages & Gardens with the headline: Suzanne Tucker.