Suzanne Garuda plans her interiors to suit the international jet set
Northern Ireland interior designer Suzanne Garuda chats for the first time about her global success. Lindsay Fergus reports
Everything’s coming up roses for a Belfast businesswoman who has taken the international interior design stage by storm.
Suzanne Garuda may be somewhat of an unknown in Northern Ireland but the talented designer is renowned the world over having completed major projects at the K Club, Sultan of Brunei’s Palace and The Kremlin in Moscow.
However, operating at the top end of the interior design market, her services do not come cheap — with a minimum make-over for one room starting from £20,000.
But for those on a more restricted budget her Garuda retail showroom on Belfast’s Ormeau Road, her base for the last five years, has items from as little as £50 rising to £5,000.
Later this month she will be showcasing her creative skills at The Chelsea Flower Show alongside other local companies Hampton Conservatories from Portrush and and Design House from Londonderry.
It is the first time the 40-something businesswoman has exhibited at the international show which runs from May 19-23 and she has high hopes for success.
“We would like to generate between £250,000 to £500,000 worth of business from the Chelsea Flower Show,” she explained. “Chelsea is such a fabulous stage to work on. It’s a great background to show off who we are. You get such an amazing cross section of people who go to Chelsea and they have got disposable income to spend.”
Her design skills will be on show in a conservatory, kitchen, living room and dining room.
Ms Garuda, who studied fine art painting at St Martin’s Central in London, has worked in countries around the world including Italy, France, Kuwait, Jordan, Morocco, the UK and Ireland.
“I realised there was no marketplace here (Northern Ireland) for what I was doing — high level design. Most people could not get there head round what I was doing,” she said.
“There was never going to be any great decorative work in Ireland but there was an enormous gap in the market for design led interiors.”
As a result she set up Garuda Design in 1996, which became limited five years ago, and the Northern Ireland registered company now employs eight people. “We would love to expand and if we get more work, we will certainly grow the business,” she added.
Although Ms Garuda sources furniture from France and Italy, she is also using the services of local companies including Belfast-based Balmoral Furniture for custom-made bespoke furniture.
One of the highlights of her career was a contract to decorate 30 rooms in The Kremlin in Moscow, which she said was ‘an amazing experience’. She also spent four-and-a-half months painting the ceilings in the Sultan of Brunei’s Palace and eight months preparing accommodation at the K Club for the Ryder Cup.
The businesswoman of 20 years, who this week launched her first brochure, said: “We are very proud of the fact that we are from Northern Ireland and work on the international stage.”
The Celtic Tiger has kept Ms Garuda busy for several years but she once again has her sight firmly set on the international stage.