Written by Breck Hapner
Andrew Suvalsky is a highly innovative artist who creates fine interiors, architectural renovations, and custom pieces. Suvalsky’s vision focuses on the tastes of each client, as well as unique attributes specific to each location. He builds timeless, color-driven spaces with a bold, open, eclectic approach. Moving between modern and traditional, Suvalsky’s sophisticated interiors blend clean, fresh, authentic details and patterns within intimate environments to make each project a singular, stylish, and comfortable experience.
Suvalsky came to New York in 1998, where he began working for the internationally celebrated designer Benjamin Noriega Ortiz. In 2005, he established Andrew Suvalsky Designs and began serving those who appreciated and valued his artistry. His is a one-stop-shop, dedicated to the full management of turnkey projects that incorporate architecture, interior design, and custom furniture design. To support him, a talented staff, as well as vendors and trades of the highest caliber, are thoughtfully assembled to manifest the design-build process, from initial concept to final installation.
Suvalsky’s firm offers full interior architectural and design services with offices in New York City and Montclair, New Jersey, and has produced projects in New York, the Hamptons, New England, Chicago, Palm Beach, Washington D.C., Miami and Puerto Rico. Andrew’s work has been celebrated internationally and published in AD, ADPro, The New York Times, Aspire, GOTHAM, Mansion Global, San Juan’s Por Dentro, House & Garden, The Robb Report, and The New York Observer, to name a few. Andrew was a participant in the 2013 Kips Bay Show House in New York. He was named “One of the Top Hot Designers to Watch” by New York Spaces Magazine. His television work includes appearances on HGTV, Oxygen, Better TV, Fox, and NBC’s Open House.
Haven recently had the pleasure of talking with Suvalsky to learn more about his projects, design aesthetic, and the future of his business in this exclusive interview.
Haven: You established your firm in 2005 – how has it evolved over the years? Have you changed your style or aesthetic, or has it been mostly consistent?
Andrew: I haven’t specifically changed my aesthetic, but it’s certainly shifted and expanded, and I never want to get bored. I’m always interested in trying a new way to do something that has already maybe been done or am looking for something completely new to do. My style is always evolving, and I definitely don’t think anything is static. I’m happy to say I look back on most of my prior work, and I’m pleased with it, so it’s not like I have disposed of an outer shell and left it behind. Projects have changed in that they have just gotten bigger. They’re all still residential but have become more geographically diverse. All our recent projects are in East Hampton, Westchester, Palm Beach, Florida, and Washington D.C. My work covers a wide region, and that’s great because that means that my influence is wider.
Haven: What is the overall aesthetic you’re aiming for, and how do you balance maintaining that aesthetic while making each design unique to each client?
Andrew: The easy answer to this is that I listen closely to what clients want. Every client is different, and every property is different. For me, it’s about bringing out the ultimate in what that space or house offers, wherever it may be, and in the language of what the clients want. They give me the ideas initially, but I’m the one who brings those ideas back in a much more refined, exciting, and special vision and format.
I do ask questions. I do like to know what the client envisioned for their project before coming to me. I want clients to provide their ideas because then I can gain a better sense of whatever they think or like. I like to tease out how clients perceive the house, what they like and dislike about it (before I’ve done my design). It’s not just about the architectural and design elements, it’s also about the client’s lifestyle.
I would say one of the strong values that my firm and I bring is a very personal touch. We really work closely with our clients, communicating very strongly. We respect whatever level clients are coming from, and we work to exceed expectations. But it’s not just about the design of the project, it’s also definitely an interpersonal experience. I have become close friends with or stay in long-term contact with most of my clients.
Haven: Your work features beautiful colors – and a very bold, liberal use of color. What inspired you to bring in those bolder colors? Is there a meaning behind different colors to you?
Andrew: I have a reputation for using brilliant colors in my work. For instance, people assume that because I use a lot of blue, their project will also feature blue, which is not necessarily the case. I often do favor blue (yes, it is my favorite color), but that’s not why I use it, at least not intentionally. But more broadly, there are an infinite number of colors in the rainbow, so why would I not want to have fun using them, or some allocation of them, for different projects? That’s much more exciting to me than repeating a specific look.
Haven: How do you strike the balance between modern and traditional in each space? What inspires you to have modern elements while blending them with more traditional aspects?
Andrew: I’m pretty fearless about that as well as mixing colors and styles. I trust my instincts. Once we get the architectural elements in place and the influencing furniture layout completed, a solid foundation is created, leaving a lot of room for variety in colors and patterns. It is important for me to know what I’m working with as far as the overall canvas, meaning the elements existing within the architecture. From there, I get direction from certain things I may learn about the client – anything from existing special pieces they own and want included, to specifics of how they like to live and entertain, to something as specific as a fabulous art collection they may have.
That being said, I’m never really interested in creating a period piece. None of my rooms are designed period-specific, the elements just reference different eras. And oftentimes more than a few in one room. But once blended, you don’t think about where and when certain pieces are from, or what they’re meant to look like. Each particular element gives the others energy, which formulates the desired aesthetic.
I enjoy incorporating a variety of elements in my work. If I have a client that possesses another design viewpoint that is not initially aligned to mine, it’s more exciting, because it becomes a new learning experience, adding to the creative process.
Haven: Are there specific examples of projects that highlight your firm and the high caliber of your work? Something you’re particularly proud of?
Andrew: A bit like having a baby, they’re all precious to me. For examples of my work, I would recommend the most recent projects on our website. As far as architecture, I’m really proud of the Lincoln Center Penthouse. It was a challenging project because it was a complete total gut of two combined apartments. We made four bedrooms out of three, and enhanced areas to include a breakfast bar and chef’s kitchen. The interior space possesses a very planned, and highly detailed design, but it’s first all about the strength of the architecture. I think in that sense it’s a great project. When you look at the beauty of a finished project, you don’t always know what obstacles were presented by the initial architecture. I can tell you the Lincoln Center Penthouse was originally very, very different. So, I loved that one.
Another project I am proud of is an old home we completely reimagined located in Bronxville, a Westchester suburb of NYC. It’s the opposite of a modern New York apartment. It is a historic house with many English overtones. And we had a lot of fun doing really special things there. We made it fresher and more glamorous but still kept all the historical aspects of it intact, incorporating original design elements that were unique and special to that house.
Haven: Is there anything else that you would like to add?
Andrew: Even after 17 years with my own company and 20+ years in the industry, I can still say I feel like I’m new and just starting out. I still enjoy bringing on new projects. I appreciate the opportunity to engage in quality work offering true depth, and the ability to constantly create. I feel I am always growing, and I’m very grateful for that. The last thing I want is to just arrive and say I’ve done it. Maybe I will feel differently in another 20 years, so for now I am still very competitive with myself. That being said, I am really enjoying the momentum we have built, and the exciting possibility of what new projects are on the horizon.
As I said earlier, we have been getting a variety of projects from many different regions, and that’s great and fun. It’s more exciting. We’ve been receiving some excellent press, which I’m proud of. There’s a lot of effort that goes into so many aspects of my business, including architecture and design. But it’s so much more. And it’s working. I’m grateful for that.
Visit the Andrew Suvalksy Designs website to learn more about Andrew Suvalsky’s work or contact Andrew Suvalsky Designs.