Susan Hoff grew up on a midwestern horse farm and spent years sailing at sea. The materials she was surrounded by — such as sailcloth and horse tack — lended themselves as inspiration to her line of bags and accessories. And now, her home reflects these experiences, too. In her collection, Hoff creates products that are sustainable and unique, made from recycled materials that allude to stories of their former lives. Her living and studio space is made of natural materials and neutral hues, weaving in the materials and stories of her past seamlessly.
From the looks of her classic and durable creations (see her bags here), it's clear that Hoff has an eye. Not only does her home suggests the same, but it also reveals a comforting and minimal yet rustic feel. Read ahead to peek inside this artist's modern studio and living space.
Lonny: From where do you find the most inspiration for the design of your home?
Susan Hoff: "I draw inspiration from a variety of sources, but most greatly from being out in nature, the design of boats and other mobile vessels, and from some favorite Japanese and Scandinavian designers. My goal with this little place was to make it bright and cozy. I started by pulling up the dingy 60s-era carpet (much easier than I expected) and by painting over the yellowy, off-white walls and ceilings with bright white (actually much harder than expected!). This gave me a bright and clean pallet to work with and from there, I started bringing in pieces and assembling spaces.
Lonny: What are your absolute non-negotiables when it comes to the space you're living in?
SH: "What's most important to me is that I feel happy and relaxed in the space, surrounded by things I love. Home is a place for me to recharge so I like for it to be bright, tidy, and bring a sense of calm."
Lonny: What are a few of your most prized or precious pieces in your home?
SH: "I'd have to say the natural objects I've collected on various trips are most prized to me, because each one tells a story and connects me to fond memories. I have some rock and bone collections I'm working to catalog, as well as a slowly growing skull collection that I love; including a cow skull found horseback riding in the hills of Petaluma, a Guanaco skull found at dawn in the Patagonian outback, and a pelican skull found on the beach right here at Fort Funston.
I also love the corticelli silk spool box, a piece my late grandfather restored and sent to me, as well as the work table, which I made with my dad from an old diving board and studs from my family's old farmhouse."
Lonny: Can you tell us about the piece above your bed?
SH: "That’s actually a piece of driftwood I found on a beach in Big Sur. I love it because it looks like so many different things and because it connects me to that place and the people I was with."
Lonny: Where did you find the maps above your couch?
SH: "Those were a gift from a friend - salvaged from someone's garbage bin in Sausalito! I love them because they are used - marked with navigation plots of someone's voyage and because they spark a sense of adventure. I've always wanted to sail in Desolation Sound and around the British Columbian coast, so it's fun to have those charts and dream of the nooks and crannies of coastline that will hold future experience."
Lonny: What about your studio space keeps you inspired and able to create?
SH: "First thing is that it's organized! That's of paramount importance for me, especially in a small space. After that, the same things that feel important in a living space are important in a studio for me — I like for it to bring a sense of uplifting calm and to be surrounded by objects that spark inspiration.
In a way, this whole little apartment serves as a studio space for me. It has been such a working space from the beginning, as I tore up the carpet and started painting, then sewing and making what I needed along the way -- curtains, storage baskets, recovering my sailcloth couch, making pillows for the salvaged circle chair, building shelves and tables. I love to have a space that I can really dig into and make my own, and this one has been a fun project to experiment with. It has also lead to the launch of a home goods line including sailcloth curtains that I'm now offering in addition to my bags."
Lonny: The light wood and minimalist feel in your home is so refreshing. How did you achieve such a coherent, relaxing aesthetic in your space?
SH: "Thank you. I really just gather things I love. Almost all of the objects in my place are either found, salvaged, reworked or things I made. I like to try things out, and then rearrange, edit, or re-work them until they feel right. I think about flow, balance, functionality and coziness. I make everything out of wood and sailcloth because I love the earthy brightness they carry but also because they are both materials I am able to find and work with readily."
To see more of Susan Hoff's work and designs, check out her website here.