The Design Showcase feature in each issue of ELLE Decoration looks at home grown artists, designers, architects and innovators. You’ll find more of these under the Profiles pulldown menu at the top of the page, and right here, we’re featuring textile artist Karen Suskin in an interview by deputy editor, Kelly Berman.

Karen Suskin is a multimedia artist, interdisciplinary designer and design lecturer. She’s been a proponent of all things sustainable before it became a buzz word, and built her own straw-bale house 12 years ago with her husband, Anthony, her family and a small local workforce.



‘In everything I do – be it designing a garment, creating an art installation, working with a community, collaborating on a piece of furniture, or mentoring a student – I’m aware of the context and of the need to find environmentally sensitive and ethical ways of working. I frequently walk on the beach or in the mountains close to my home; I observe and collect things that inspire me and return to the studio with new treasures and deeper insight into nature’s fascinating processes.’

Karen Suskin3

‘I work predominantly in felt, sometimes using it on existing pieces such as these stools. I also dabble in other artistic mediums, often incorporating natural materials.’

Karen Suskin2

‘The design on this felt dress came from a line drawing I did while working out an idea. The chalk doodle she’s drawing continues down into her dress as a physical embodiment of the idea itself.’

Interview: Kelly Berman.
Production: Laureen Rossouw and Karen Suskin.
Photographs: Justin Patrick.
Model: Thola van Speyk