Today I am pleased to share an interview with Chicago interior architecture legend Shea Soucie. In 2000, she partnered with Martin Horner (they once studied together at the Ecole Spéciale d’Architecture in Paris) to create Soucie Horner, a highly successful full-service interior architecture and design firm. I am a huge admirer of their luxurious and glamorous work, and am grateful to Shea for sharing her thoughts on the blog!
Please share a little about your design philosophy.
We believe good design can actually define lifestyle—the lifestyle our clients lead now, or the lifestyle they aspire to lead in their new home. It’s not about us having a “look” we’re known for. It’s about getting to the heart of what individual clients are passionate about—how they like to spend their time, how they interact with their families, how they entertain—all those things drive our designs and result in intensely personal homes.
Can you share a few photos from a recent favorite project?
We just completed a project in Naples, Florida, for a long-time client with a deep appreciation for all manner of architectural styles. He had the passion to transform his dream of incorporating that variety in a single-family home. It includes aspects of Florentine palazzos, Swiss chalets, and Low-country fishing huts—it was an interesting challenge and turned out beautifully.
What are your favorite of-the-moment trends?
We don’t consider ourselves trend-watchers. We’re more about classic, timeless design—though we certainly like to take fresh approaches to our work on a project-by-project basis. Certain things, in my mind, will always be in style, and those things will always excite us—rugs and decorative accessories that are handcrafted by skilled artisans, for example, that can really give a room soul.
What are your predictions for the next big trends we’ll see?
Again, I don’t really like to call them trends—but I will say there are some things that are getting my attention. People—our clients, at least—are starting to think in terms of curating furniture collections just as they curate art collections. That’s becoming an interesting shift to me. We saw a lot of cinnabar colors at Art Basel in Miami, which was also interesting.
What are your go-to classic design favorites?
We like to incorporate custom SHIIR rugs in every project we can—they’re highly nuanced designs hand-woven in luxury fibers like cashmere and silk by artisans who learned the skill from their parents and grandparents. We also like to use Lynda O’Connor’s pillows—she makes them out of antique textiles that are interpreted in a uniquely modern way. They’re one-of-a-kind artworks.
What are your favorite local shops for furniture and decor?
Do you have any tricks for making rooms look bigger/more open?
Let a room breathe – don’t fill every inch with furniture. Use glass tables you can see through, and furnishings with legs that show open space beneath. And of course, mirrors are a great way to bounce light and views around and expand the feel of a room.
What is your favorite Chicago neighborhood, and why?
I go to different neighborhoods for different reasons. The Southport Corridor has terrific food options. Logan Square is always fun to spend time in. And I love the theaters and architecture in Uptown.
What types of services do you offer?
We’re actually comprised of three business divisions: luxury residential interior design, commercial project development, and custom products including lighting, furniture, and textiles. But if you’re asking about our interior design division specifically, we do everything from plan and elevation analysis and specifications for furniture, fabric, color, materials, and lighting, to product procurement and expediting and move-in and installation. We also provide household staff training and landscape consulting services.