Artist and textile designer Susan Hable Smith is as colorful as her work. We have long admired her talent and the success of her company, Hable Construction–a NYC based textile company founded by Texan Susan and her sister Kate Hable Sweeney.
Susan lives in Athens, Georgia and works out of a a refurbished 1918 mill house-turned-studio space that she had relocated to her back yard. This sunny spot has fostered several new collaborations with Hickory Chair, Garnet Hill and LoomSource. Susan’s hand drawn abstract motifs of shapes and flora and fauna come in bold unexpected palettes. We love seeing Hable fabric update a grandmother’s old settee or as a beach bag on the shoulder of a chic friend at the Sea Island Beach Club.
We sat down to talk with Susan about what she is loving right now. Here are her favorites:
Fabric collection: For years, I have loved Josef Frank and his incredible textiles. Some favorites not to be missed are Rox & Fix, Loop, Fata Morgana, and Fioretti. I aspire to have a textile collection that is as timeless as his! I have a fabulous book by Kristina Wangberg-Eriksson called Josef Frank Textile Designs.
China pattern:I giggled when you asked this because when I got married, I think I received two dinner plates of my china pattern. Needless to say, am I ever so grateful that that wasn’t the top gift because I dont think I’m really a “china” girl after all! I started carrying Mud Australia in my shop in NYC and loved it so much that I made a special order of pale pink in every shape. It’s dishwasher safe and porcelain so it is my everyday and kid party plate for tater tots and sliders as well as my dinner party go to for lovely catered meals. I am really mismatched in everything else but since moving to the South, I do use my silver for everyday. So good for the practical side of me and there’s something so beautiful about using real silver for just ordinary old meals and, of course, a pretty cloth napkin every time!
Design blog: I don’t know if Pinterest is considered a blog per se but I am on that thing every single day!!! I do go to links if an image is particularly compelling and LOVE it. Besides pinning, I do look at Remodelista–it’s so spare and smart. Design Sponge is wonderful too! And of course, I’m a fashion lover so I troll around The Sartorialist and The Man Repeller. It inspires me to actually get dressed!
Paint color: This is such a fun category for me. The Farrow and Ball color card is pure inspiration! It’s so easy to slap up a coat of paint and change a room or a mood. I painted my front door Benjamin Moore Razzle Dazzle, a daring shade of hot pink, when we moved in, but recently switched to their Twilight Blue, which is cobalt, in high gloss. I was in a blue mood. And that doesn’t mean depressed! It’s a charged blue! My go to interior color is Paisley Pink also by Benjamin Moore. I always find a room to paint that color. It’s not too girly but so pretty on your skin.
Candle: Hmmmmm, I nearly burned down a beach vacation home once so I’m not a fan of burning candles. No need to give them to me for a housewarming gift. I use Santa Maria Novella potpourri all around my home and also spritz a little of the wool saving spray that I put on my sweaters to pack them away in the winters. It smells delish-much nicer than moth balls! The only time you will see a candle burning in my home is one of those little silver lined votives inside a glass that burns for maybe 30 minutes for an event.
Antiques Shop: This is my department! I’m a collector or a digger or whatever. I love to hunt for treasures and one of my very favorite places for the unique and out of the ordinary is uncommon OBJECTS in Austin, Texas. The owners Steve and Emily Wiman artists (and friends of mine) and the shop is a complete extension of them. It’s worth taking a little trip for a weekend and stay at the San Jose, my favorite hotel, and eat some great Mexican food to shop there.
Artist:This is so tricky because there are so many artists that I admire, but here are a few. Alex Katz – his collages are wonderful, Ellsworth Kelly – no surprise!, Jeannie Weissglass, Louise Belcourt, Hugo Guinness, Carol John, Christy Bush, Rinne Allen, Leslie Snipes, Justin Plakas…the list can go on and on. I do not discriminate when it comes to buying art. I love fancy art as well as UGA student art. My collection brings so much joy into my house!
Interior designers: Oh bless my designer friends out there! Such a hard job and someone has to do it! My friends at Hickory Chair, Thomas O’Brien and Suzanne Kasler, do beautiful work. My friends Dufner Heighes in New York are so talented as well as Lisa Ellis at Hawthorne House in Athens, Georgia, Susan Massey at Bohlert Massey Interiors in Rosemary Beach, Florida. Again, I could go on forever!
Collection: My favorite thing to collect are books for my design library. I absolutely love to add wonderful art and botany books to it. What a treat to sit in my own studio and pour over them! I also love to share so that tickles me when I can inspire someone else. I also have a funny little collection of sketches and paintings of eyes in my powder room. The goal is to someday have all of the walls covered…kind of boogedy!
Southern essential: The Southern eccentrics! One would assume that you would get the most assorted crazy folks in a big city, because of the melting pot of cultures and backgrounds. I beg to differ! The South is where it’s at and it’s one of my favorite things! Everyone that I seem to know has some relative or friend that has some over-the-top story that really cannot be topped! It’s amazing and when you think you’ve heard it all, another story will fly out of nowhere. I am fortunate to have many of those eccentrics in my life and I feel like my kookiness can be out in full force in Athens! There is no better place than to be in the South-such a wondeful incubator for ideas and creative types and everyone in between!
Susan’s style in five words or less: I couldn’t quite do it in that few!
Layering tones of color
From the heart
Interview by Southern Living contributing editor, Cheri Leavy. Cheri is also co-founder of ”The Southern Coterie,” the social network of the South. The Southern C is hosting its first Southern Coterie Summit May 1 – 3 on Jekyll Island.