Stacey Bewkes: Casual Elegance and Beyond

November 22, 2011

Suzanne Kasler knows how to mix it up. She is that rare breed of designer who seems effortlessly to create glamorous, layered spaces that exude an aura of sophisticated yet comfortable chic. Many lay claim to the term casual elegance, but Kasler owns it with a unique aesthetic–mixing everything from European antiques and African artifacts to Italian pop and modern art into a unified vision.

I had a chance to speak with Suzanne about the genesis of the beautiful collection. In keeping with her eclectic yet classic approach to design, she wanted the line to have the same continental feel. Grounded with two groups of linen and taffeta solids in signature Kasler colorways, she used a number of patterns to create pops of strategically placed color.

This offers endless opportunities for Kasler-style mixing and matching of textures, colors and patterns that all work harmoniously. Take, for example, how she used Bristol silk taffeta as trim on a linen-upholstered chair–a subtle but elegant touch.

Her classic cotton/silk atelier stripe is available in eight or ten colors and is the perfect weight to be used for upholstery or curtains. It is a design that, like much of Kasler’s work, is hard to define as traditional or contemporary.

Used with the Italian paisley Costes, the eclectic result is a marvelous mix of flax and color.

Then adding another layer, the crewel fabrics with a bohemian feel also successfully walk the thin line between dressy and casual. That is exactly what Kasler intended the collection to be: a grouping that can be interpreted in many ways to fit anyone’s individual style.

Take a look at the fabrics on the wings in the showroom. You will see the sophisticated integration of color, pattern and texture.

Throughout her signature lines for Hickory Chair, Ballard, Safavieh, Soicher Marin and Visual Comfort, many of which are featured here in her vignette, there is that consistency of casual elegance and refined sensibility with an experienced eye for detail and form.

Kasler’s room at Lee Jofa shows her at her mix-making best. Starting with strong architectural shapes in solids or stripes, she then layers on patterns and the odd pieces or artifacts that give a space authenticity. She advises: Don’t be afraid to take a few risks in adding personal touches. It’s frequently a seemingly discordant piece that ends up making the space sing.

–Stacey Bewkes
Stacey Bewkes is the creator and author of Quintessence, an upscale lifestyle blog presenting daily style inspiration on topics ranging from interiors and fashion to art, architecture, travel, wine and film. Following a seventeen-year career as an art director at Simon and Schuster, she now lives in Connecticut with her husband, four children and dog, Charlie.

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