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Meet Suzanne Bank of Suzanne Bank Designs in Studio City

Today we’d like to introduce you to Suzanne Bank.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I was a divorced mother of two young children when being divorced was not looked upon favorably. At that time, married women were concerned that divorced women were going to go after their husbands and as a single woman, you would not be seen out in public on a Friday or Saturday night. To add to that women couldn’t get credit cards! It was an interesting time to be a divorced woman. I didn’t have a career or a way to make a living, and my ex-husband gave me the least possible amount of money he could. I was put in a position where I had to support my children and myself. I had always had a love and passion for interior design. While visiting a friend, a neighbor stopped in, saw the changes I was making to my friend’s home and the next thing I knew I was designing a townhouse for her sister. That led to another job followed by many more jobs. Since that first job, all of my clients have come to me by referral. At the time, I started designing the only interior design classes in the city were taught by Jody Greenwald at UCLA. I had my children to take care of, a household run, my work, and somewhat of a personal life. As much as I would have loved taking her classes there was no time for school or studying. So, as I have done with most things in my life, I learned by doing on the job training, using my good taste, my design sense and a lot of intuition. I have worked with many celebrities as well as young couples just starting out in life. I have participated in two Showcases Houses, done model homes, real estate development and my work has been featured in magazines. A few of my interesting jobs include a TV star’s dressing room, a police captain’s office, a newspaper office, the L.A. office of a presidential candidate, the office of the founder and first president of the TV Academy, recording studios, a kindergarten classroom, a reading room for a religious organization, a juvenile furniture showroom at the LA Mart, a showroom for a California sportswear line , a home for a women who had lost her sight at a young age, and I designed the interiors for the main character in three mystery novels. In 1988, I read an article on Feng Shui in the Real Estate section of the L.A. Times. I was fascinated and set out to find out more. It was an interesting two-year journey which became my looking for the needle in a haystack. I discovered that few English-speaking people were into the Chinese Art of Placement so I had to find an interpreter for the Feng Shui Master that I would meet with. The interpreter I was led to was a stunning Chinese woman who drove to Monterrey Park in her shiny black Mercedes to pick up Feng Shui Master Lin and then would bring him to my home in Laurel Canyon, so we could both learn about Feng Shui. Like an onion, there are many layers to my design work. In 1983, I started including Carlton Wagner’s subconscious effect of color and then Feng Shui and then in 1995 I added energy clearing to the list of things I do for my clients. After all these years I am blessed to still be doing what I love.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Doing something “new” and different is always a challenge. It was mostly men in the interior design field and only a handful of women when I started designing. I well remember that I felt disrespected and talked down to in the showrooms. I learned quickly to get over it. Early in my career, there was talk of all designers needing to be accredited. That meant going to school and there was no time in my life for that. I was concerned if the bill passed that I wouldn’t be able to continue designing. The bill didn’t pass. It seems that the department stores would have a bigger issue than I would, as their people in the furnishings department were not decorators or designers, they were sales people. I was actually told not to take classes as my approach was fresh and I would lose that freshness if I went to school for interior design. When I began including Feng Shui in my work I was asked by a number of real estate offices to come and speak to their agents and brokers. I believe I was the first to speak about Feng Shui to the real estate community. I asked each office I spoke at to give me a property to work on that was not selling, so I could show the benefits of using Feng Shui. They all did. I worked on a home owned by a broker in Pacific Palisades that had been on the market for some time, and there had been no offers. Soon after I worked on the house, there were three offers in five days and the house sold. One of the brokers from the office I mentioned complained that the house was sold prior to her seeing what I did to it! Here I thought the idea was to get the house sold. In good markets and bad, I have had many homes sell within ten days after working on them and all had back-up offers. In addition to speaking to brokers I have spoken to Rotary Clubs, Women In Business, the Ebell of Los Angeles, to a group of women who went from being homeless to living at Daybreak, and a shelter for women transitioning into having their own living environments. Years ago, there was great interest in Feng Shui. Today many have forgotten about the benefits. Tomorrow it may be the thing to do again. For me, it has been and is, a wonderful tool to use.

So, let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Suzanne Bank Designs story. Tell us more about the business.
My specialty is understanding my client’s needs when they can, or can’t. Unlike the clothing industry, I believe home interiors should be timeless, not trendy. More than ever, everyone should have a retreat to come home to at the end of the day. A place to renew, refresh and regroup. A place that’s harmonious, balanced, comforting, a grounding influence and a reflection of the people living there, not the neighbors or the home we saw get a makeover on TV. Whatever the style, traditional, transitional, contemporary or modern, the space should be a tasteful, restful environment that will evolve as the clients do. When a client hires me, they get me. Not an assistant. I spend time getting to know them and their lifestyle, so I can design their home the way they envision it. To start I do an energy clearing of my client’s environment and I have yet to find a space that is not in need of one. I’m most proud when they say…that’s exactly what I would have done if I could have done it myself. When my clients tell me of the results they’ve received from my work, I’m elated. My friends have become my clients and many of my clients have become friends. All my clients know they are welcome to call me at any time with any questions, even long after the job has been installed. I’ve worked on a home in the Bahamas, one in San Diego, and was involved from breaking ground to completion on a home near Mt. Shasta, and all from my office. I’m not like other designers I know. I use my knowledge and years of experience as a designer, add Feng Shui, energy clearings, subconscious response to color and a great deal of intuition. My work is more than beautiful it’s spiritual. I’m proud to say over the many years I’ve been designing I have shared my knowledge, taught my clients and been able to give them guidance.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I’ve had good luck in attracting wonderful clients that have appreciated my design sense and the results they received.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Wilshire Community Police Council “A Night At The Sports Museum” fundraisers photos by Bill Devlin.
Photo with Rose Parade float designer client Raul Rodriquez and Sebastian.
Client Sheila Lowe’s book signing.
Holding the world’s tallest rose at the Rose Parade float judging.
At the nursery selecting plants for a Culver City model

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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