Leading interior design consultancy SBDP Ltd is 20 years old so it was about time we caught up with founder Suzanne Barnes
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF
I am Suzanne Barnes, founder of interior design consultancy SBDP Ltd which celebrates its 20th anniversary in October. My business is varied and exciting which keeps us fresh. We’ve worked in some fabulous houses and buildings over the years and have been involved in television, teaching and writing about interior design too. You wouldn’t survive long in this industry without commitment, so everybody here really cares. We’re a small business and while at one time architects turned to larger design practices, that’s not the case anymore.
HOW DO YOU GET INTO TOWN?
We are based in Edgbaston and I live just up the road in Harborne. Because I need my car for site visits and client meetings I drive, although I have been known to walk occasionally!
HOW’S THE COMMUTE?
If I leave home before 7.45am or after 9am it’s fairly swift. The business was first based in the Custard Factory and then the Jewellery Quarter before moving to Edgbaston six years ago.
IS BRUM A GOOD PLACE TO WORK IN?
It’s a great city to work in and we’ve managed to ride out two recessions successfully here. Our work is very varied – one of the reasons we’ve survived – so we have many local domestic clients, both homeowners and developers, plus we work for the University of Birmingham and we have designed numerous offices, hotels and restaurants. Everything is on our doorstep which is a huge bonus.
We have fabulous offices so going offsite for a meeting is rare, however when we do, a short walk round the corner to the Highfield is perfect.
If we’re taking clients out to lunch we like to show off our work, so we take them to Opus Restaurant, Opus Bar or Café Opus for which we designed the interiors. The food’s great as well as the interior! If it’s a normal day in the office, we get so engrossed in our work that sometimes we don’t stop. It’s a packed lunch at the desk or we gather in the front studio for a bite to eat and a breather. Occasionally I say sod it and we all head to the Highfield.
The grounds of the University of Birmingham have a fabulous sculpture trail and I can visit one of my favourite places, the Barber Institute.
WHERE’S YOUR FAVOURITE PART OF THE CITY?
There are so many – from the terracotta buildings of the Business District, the canals of Brindleyplace to the wonderful St Paul’s Square. There’s so much to like.
I love trying out new bars in the city when they open, and there have been a lot this year. However, I do tend to drink mainly in the Junction pub or the New Inn in Harborne. I do like to have a quick beer with colleagues after work.
HOW CAN THE CITY BE MADE BETTER?
Connecting the city would be the main improvement – the trams are coming! Also, to make the pedestrian journey from one side of the city desirable and safe would make a big difference.