I first discovered Susana (@susana_ordovas) after seeing a photo of her home in Madrid – yes, this lucky woman has two homes.
After getting over my love attack with her green shutters, I immediately thought: now here is a woman with the guts to go for it. Susana Ordovás’s style is classy, striking and easily identifiable as trademark Susana. There’s no hesitation or ‘maybe I’ll just paint one wall and see how it goes’ with Susana. Of course, some of you, (if you spend any amount of time on Pinterest or Instagram) may have also admired photos of her homes and you would certainly be in good company as her homes have been featured in:
- ‘Nuevo Estlilo’
- ‘Architectural Digest’ (Spain Edition),
- ‘Glocal’ (Mexican Magazine dedicated to Architecture and Design):
and, just last month, her home in Mexico (which has only recently been redecorated) has been published in the ‘Design Sponge’ blog.
As a now devoted follower, I couldn’t resist the chance to learn more about Susana, her bold stance on interior design and her thoughts on what is inspiring her fellow Mexican interior design lovers but, before we dive in, first a little bit of background.
With the life Susana has led, I think she is actually posing as an interior stylist and is, in fact, a modern day Bond girl. OK, I possibly have an overactive imagination but she would definitely make a strong contender. Born in Dublin, Susana is half English and half Spanish. She was brought up in Africa (Zaire and Morocco) and went to University in Madrid, where she studied to be a journalist. Whilst travelling the globe she met her husband (who’s from Belgium) “on assignment” in Mexico. They bought their home in Mexico City 14 years ago, which is where they live with their two teenage children. They are also fortunate enough to have a second home in Madrid, which she says is where they spend their holidays – but I like to think is actually her spy headquarters! (If you’d like to investigate my theory for yourselves you can actually stay at her home as she rents it out on Airbnb).
What is it like living in Mexico?
I’ve lived in Mexico City for 21 years. It’s a complicated city to live in, with horrific traffic and pollution all year round, but in spite of this it’s actually a great city to live in. Obviously the weather is wonderful but it’s also such a vibrant city with so much culture everywhere (Mexico City has the largest number of museums of any city in the world) and is full of shops, wonderful restaurants and (my love) flea markets! Architecturally, it’s incredibly interesting and the variety of styles is mind-boggling. I also love the fact that Mexicans make foreigners feel extremely welcome, so I feel right at home here. I admit, however, that it’s also great to get away from the chaos once in a while, so to have our home in Madrid to escape to is a real privilege.
When did you first have an interest in interior design and how would you describe your style/taste?
I have always been obsessed with interior design. It’s been part of my DNA forever. My father’s side of the family (the Spanish side) is very artistic and there are quite a few of us dedicated to interior design and the world of antiques. For a while I worked as an interior designer but I don’t any more. I’m still immersed in that world, but in other ways. It’s difficult to pinpoint my style, all I know is that I have a tremendous appreciation for old things, for furniture and objects that have had a previous life. I love mixing and matching unexpected objects and styles. I love interior design that stimulates you, spaces that are unexpected and want to make you look twice. My favourite designers are Dirk Jan Kinet Interiors, Dimore Studio, Lorenzo Castillo, Johnathan Adler and Kelly Wearstler. They are a tremendous source of inspiration to me.
Recently, many interior design lovers in the UK are turning to Instagram for interiors inspiration – does Instagram play any role in how you find inspiration for your home?
Absolutely! I am obsessed with Instagram and there are a few accounts which are hugely inspiring to me. However, my main source of inspiration is the work of my dear friend and decorator Dirk Jan Kinet (@dirkjankinetinteriors) who helped me decorate both my homes. He has such a unique style, the work he does is truly outstanding and I admire him greatly. We are also very close friends and usually spend our Sundays together scouring La Lagunilla, Mexico City’s infamous Sunday flea market.
Where would your fellow countrymen head to for interior design inspiration?
Mexico is a mishmash of styles so it’s hard to actually pin down one specific style that is on trend at the moment. Axel Vervoodt’s luxurious minimalism and dark hues are probably most popular these days.
There is also a Mexican design studio called Habitación 116 which is hugely popular – I know a lot of my friends would kill to have their homes designed by them. There is generally an absence of colour in all of their designs, but the materials they use are gorgeous – very earthy and luxurious.
Is there much selection in terms of both independent and high street interior shops?
When I arrived here 21 years ago, I found it very difficult to decorate my first home; there was just no selection of shops or brands. Fortunately, there has been a boom in the growth of interior design shops in Mexico just in the past few years. The United States is a big influence here and shops like Restoration Hardware, Kravet, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams and the American designer Jonathan Adler are hugely influential here. Zara Home, H&M Home, Crate and Barrel, and Pottery Barn are also very popular with many home owners in Mexico. What I love most is that there are also plenty of fabric and wallpaper brands to choose from such as Cole & Son, Pierre Frey, Designers Guild etc.
Do you think there is a huge variety in interior design styles in Mexico or, as you have so much sunlight and good weather, are the homes typically light for example or perhaps very traditional?
Not so much in Mexico City. Homes tend to be more conservative (both in style as well as in colour), probably due to the lifestyle and the fact that it’s never very hot here. Houses by the seaside (Acapulco, Careyes, Baja California, Cancun etc), on the other hand, are usually far more colourful and playful.
What would you say are the five current (affordable) interior design trends in Mexico? Does the average person in Mexico even consider interior ‘trends’?
The reality of the economic climate of Mexico means that the average Mexican is usually not too preoccupied with design and trends. However, the more privileged affluent Mexico City dweller would currently be interested in having these elements in their home: RICH VELVETS AND LINENS, WOODEN FLOORS (TROPICAL WOODS ARE VERY POPULAR), MUTED COLOURS (taupes, grays), FRESH FLOWERS, CANDLES & HOMES SCENTS.
What advice would you give to anyone when decorating their home?
My advice is to buy only what you love. For example, my home is not at all what homes in Mexico are usually like -which are often influenced by styles from the United States. My Mexican friends think I’m crazy the way my home is filled with so much colour, print, wallpaper and vintage and antique objects and furniture but I’ve followed my heart. I’d also say that you need to just go for it (believe it or not, Dirk and I decorated my home in Madrid in just eleven days – it helps that I trust Dirk’s judgement fully and we work extremely well together, which made it so much easier to get it done quickly). And, no matter how long it takes, don’t compromise!