A Designer’s Dream: Inside Elizabeth Sutton’s New Manhattan Townhouse

A Designer's Dream: Inside Elizabeth Sutton's New Manhattan TownhousePhoto Credit: Courtesy of Elizabeth Sutton

Elizabeth Sutton is the ultimate creative multi-hyphenate as a designer and artist extraordinaire. Known for her vibrant designs and for spreading positivity through the power of art, Sutton has created a community that shares her same passions for fashion, interiors, and more. Haute Living sits down with Sutton to discuss her latest endeavor, her newly renovated — and incredibly designed — Manhattan townhouse on Sutton Place and 57th street.

HAUTE LIVING: You have your hands on many projects as a creative. Can you walk us through what you’re currently working on? 

HAUTE LIVING: As a creative, you have your hands on many projects. Can you walk us through what you’re currently working on? 
ELIZABETH SUTTON: My biggest project has definitely been my new townhouse headquarters in NYC. I just recently moved my family and my company from Miami to New York, and it has been quite the hands-on initiative for the last 6-8 months. I am launching several new categories for my brand within the townhouse, including wallpaper, custom linens, mirrors, tabletops, and lighting. In addition, I am working with amazing vendors to offer bespoke, high-end options for anything that goes into one’s home, commercial, or hospitality project, and this townhouse is a showcase.

We are also focusing heavily on the growth of our fashion collection — evening clutches, leather bags, and belts. We are expanding our distribution and will now be in six new Alice & Olivia locations, including Aspen, Chicago, Dallas, Miami, New York, Las Vegas, and West Hollywood. The team is focused on retail and e-commerce growth for the collection. On the licensing front, my newest collection for Tilebar will be launching at BDNY in November — our ‘Meta’ collection, a gorgeous glass chevron collection available on homedepot.com in 8 colorways. Also, in November, we will launch my puzzle collection and Spin Flip design with TCG, which is particularly exciting because the Spin Flip is a new and innovative toy, like the new Rubix cube, and I’m excited to be included in the launch of this new product. For 2023, I have a new collection with Sprayground launching, which includes backpacks and hand luggage. The artwork is very innovative, and that’s what Sprayground and Elizabeth Sutton Collection are all about. And, of course, I am always working on fine art for my clients. That is always the core of my business and my number one creative passion, so anyone reading this – if you are an art collector looking for inspiring, uplifting, and motivating art, I’d love for you to check out my work.

A Designer's Dream: Inside Elizabeth Sutton's New Manhattan TownhousePhoto Credit: Courtesy of Elizabeth Sutton

HL: As a creator, how do you find inspiration for your projects? What does the creative process look like?
ES: My problem isn’t finding visual inspiration — I see inspiration in everything, from a dirty fence to a shadow coming through a tree to the leaf on the tree itself. Often, I find inspiration in architecture and nature, especially from my travels. My kids, though, are really my inspiration. Providing them with a good life and a good example of what it means to be a kind, honest, and productive human is what motivates me every day. Often, I draw inspiration on a per-project basis, and the creative process varies based on the product. For example, if I am doing a custom painting for a client, the inspiration comes from them. I want the artwork to represent what makes them happy, and so I need to bring that out through a series of questions I ask my clients so I can deliver a strong result, including strong emotion.

My paintings are based on my own photographs or patterns I see in my brain. I then translate them into digital renderings, using paints, brushes, tape, and knives to execute, sometimes spending 400 hours on one painting. For my clutches, I play with acrylic swatches and create outlines. Then, I mock it up in Adobe and send labeled imagery to the factory for a sample, which then gets modified for corrections or approval. For most product design, Adobe Illustrator is my best friend. I do all my pattern-making in Illustrator. Often, manufacturing is involved in the creative process, so I can know the limitations of my creativity based on what can actually be produced. It is way more complex than you would think, and the process truly differs for every product category. Sometimes I design with marble swatches, and sometimes, glass, acrylic, crystal, fabric, pantones, etc. It is highly complex. 

HL: Let’s chat about the townhouse. Can you explain the concept? 
ES: Since I started my career around 2017, I’ve had a lot of opportunities that I’ve worked on or pitched that never came to fruition while I was beginning, and even now. I put resources, time, and energy into creating intellectual property and design output, most of which has never seen the light of day. As a designer, it has been extremely frustrating to have these designs trapped in my computer, mainly because it’s some of my best creative work. The world needs the energy from my designs, but people need to understand how to use them. Most people aren’t able to visualize. When I saw the townhouse, it was a blank, almost 7,000 square-foot canvas for my brain — all white walls and my biggest canvas yet.

A significant career dream of mine is to design my own boutique hotel and grow my designs through the real estate development side of things. I saw an opportunity to show the A&D world what I can do – to showcase how my fine art can coordinate with my tile, wallpaper, linens, towels, lighting, mirrors, and tabletops to offer the Elizabeth Sutton experience for your home, building, or hotel. I saw it as an opportunity to collaborate with amazing vendors in the industry who execute work products of the same caliber as mine. My goal is to target the A&D (architect & design) community to grow distribution, get new projects, and get new licensing deals in new categories. The first two floors function as my workspace, including an art studio and a home office to host art collectors and fashion buyers. It is different from your typical fashion district showroom or art gallery because I’m not typical, and it is an extremely unique, special, colorful, energetic, and vibrant experience. It is the Elizabeth Sutton Collection experience.

A Designer's Dream: Inside Elizabeth Sutton's New Manhattan TownhousePhoto Credit: Courtesy of Elizabeth Sutton

HL: How have you decided to design it? What are some of your favorite pieces in it?
ES: It sounds crazy, and when I tell these architects and designers how long it took us to put together, they can’t believe we did it all in 3 months, soup to nuts, including the move from Miami. I designed all the wallpapers, linens, and lighting and chose every single piece of furniture within two weeks, aka, I didn’t sleep. We are discussing almost 7,000 square feet of space designed in two weeks. And I didn’t just choose the wallpapers, linens, etc. — I designed them myself. I used existing furniture pieces I had, many from my favorite store in Chelsea, Modshop, and then I purchased new ones to compliment them. NSA Lighting completely changed the vibe of the entire house with lighting – brass track lights to highlight artwork, custom-built and hand-painted large-scale brass fixtures, and outdoor LED and string lights that entirely set the mood. The lighting was so impactful to the interior space by making it feel larger and setting the vibe — especially outdoors, as we redid the landscaping with Edgelandscaping and new furniture from Lighting World Decor.

We also built a custom bar outside with my tile. It brings me joy that I got to install my award-winning tile in my home for the first time – my Arc collection on the bar we built in the backyard and the Timeless collection as the backsplash in the kitchen. My tile is a source of pride for me. The wallpaper is next level too, and I am launching a vast collection of wallpapers with Sur La Mur and custom linens with Mehlrose, NY. Even if you look at my custom roller shades I created with NV Window treatments or my shower doors and bartop with Galaxy Glass and Stone — I incorporated innovation into every space I could imagine, unexpected things, while making everything work together thematically, within their own spaces. And then I curated it with my always-bold pop art. So it’s kind of like its own art and design experiential private museum concept in the form of my home and workspace. I even added the perfect sound systems with Gadget AV Solutions, which is incredibly therapeutic for me alongside painting.   Honestly, it’s impossible to choose just one because the whole purpose of what I did was to pour TLC into every design element to make everything special. 

A Designer's Dream: Inside Elizabeth Sutton's New Manhattan TownhousePhoto Credit: Courtesy of Elizabeth Sutton

HL: What is the goal of the townhouse?
ES:  My goal is to get new deals and opportunities, from new fine art clients in NYC to hospitality and commercial projects, on a scale I’ve never achieved. If I get new licensing deals naturally as people see my work, that would be amazing. Still, I really want to focus on A&D growth for FF&E and on hosting fashion retailers in the space as our new showroom so they can view our collection of clutches, belts, and leather bags.

HL: What newness can we expect from you this winter?
ES: A lot of newnesses. My 5th collection for Tilebar, the ‘Meta’ collection, launched in November at BDNY. My spin-flip and puzzle designs for TCG launch in November. New art at all times, my new showroom, and Sprayground. We are also working on a new website, which takes a lot of time to get done right. Anything that’s further out than that from launch, I’ve learned not to mention as the world post-COVID is super shifty on timelines, and I’ve learned best to surprise people closer to it. But trust me, I’m always working on new things, including one of my most passionate creative endeavors, yet if it actually comes to fruition. 

A Designer's Dream: Inside Elizabeth Sutton's New Manhattan TownhousePhoto Credit: Courtesy of Elizabeth Sutton

I will be painting live at the annual Denali Foundation Gala at the Yale Club this month and participating in an invite-only Women’s Initiative Wells Fargo Marketplace. I am looking for good female mentors in my industry in NYC, as I am considering taking a partner/investor for the first time in my career and want to learn more about that process and get good advice.