Suzie Idiens, Top ‘Burgundy-Red” 2009. Polyurethane and MDF, 52 x 152 x 6 cm. Bottom “Yellow-Blue” 2009. Polyurethane and MDF, 26 x 167 x 5 cm.


Suzie Idiens “Jubilation” 2009. Polyurethane and MDF.


I often get asked about the benefits of writing a design blog, and whether the rewards outweigh the effort and the time that goes into researching and producing original content on a daily basis. It’s a very good question, and the one I ask myself at least once a day. I don’t really know if I have the answer just yet, but one thing I know for sure – being in the position to support and promote emerging talent is a real privilege and something that gives me such a huge kick. So you see, writing this blog is all about me and how good it makes me feel. Ha!

But enough of playing silly buggers. Today I wish to introduce you to an emerging Sydney based visual artist, Suzie Idiens. Some of you guys will know {of} Suzie. Yes, Australian interior designers, I’m talking to you. On the days when Suzie isn’t creating her deceivingly simple art, she can be found in the beautiful Koskela showroom {see recent post here}. Suzie recently made a decision to pursue her lifelong dream of creating art that has patiently been waiting to be “let out”. Armed with her folio and a bag full of enthusiasm, Suzie immersed herself in the events of Art Month Sydney earlier this year, which resulted in her meeting Conny Dietzschold where she currently has her very first show. Yay for Suzie!

I recently attended a little breakfast at the gallery, which gave me the opportunity to see Suzie’s work in person. From the invite {top two images} I expected the pieces to be a lot smaller, possibly because I took no note of the actual sizes listed underneath. Needless to say, I’m not the type of person that reads the fine-print. I didn’t know what to think of the pieces at a first glance. Well, I definitely did like the colours, proportions and composition, but I’m not really one of those people that knows that much about art. I walked around the room, looked at all the pieces, chatted to Suzie, had another look… And then it was almost as though all these little details started to reveal themselves to me. Concave shapes, rounded corners and intriguing junctions, that exceptionally smooth finish which reflects the room and the viewer back into each piece. When Suzie spoke about her art, she had that spark in her eyes and that fire in her heart. And I loved that, I got hooked. I started imagining the pieces in a minimalist home with high ceilings and a gallery-like interior, a beautiful lobby within a public building, and they worked just perfectly in my mind.

Suzie’s exhibtion, titled “Painted Objects”, runs until the end of this month. I encourage you to go and have a look for yourself – details are at the bottom of this post. Thank you Suzie for being such a loyal supporter of yellowtrace, and now giving me the opportunity to “show you off”. I loved reading Suzie’s answers, and my favourite things I learned about her are that she “purposefully migrated to Australia because of the light”, and that she loves going down to “Bronte Beach in the morning for coffee and to count her blessings”. Isn’t that just so beautiful?

x dana

Suzie Idiens “Deep Blue” 2009. Polyurethane and MDF.


Hello Suzie, welcome to yellowtrace and thank you for taking the time to e-chat. Could you please give us a quick introduction on yourself?

I am a Sydney based emerging visual artist. I migrated to Australia nearly 4 years ago after previously living in Germany and the UK.

When did you first decide you wanted to become an artist? What was the very first piece of art you created?

I guess I have always been an artist. I spent my childhood drawing…doodling, making things. There were drawings everywhere, on the walls, under the bed, stacked in thick makeshift portfolios. My mum was very encouraging and my dad had a seemingly endless supply of scrap paper from the plotter machines at work he’d bring home. So I don’t have a recognition of my first piece – there was too much output. Then in my teens growing up in Germany during the Eighties I somehow got it in my head being an artist could mean a life of poverty and intellectual frustration, so opting for a career in design would be far more sensible.

After finishing my Abitur I packed my bags and headed to the UK with all intensions of studying graphic design. It quickly became apparent I was better at 3D than 2D, and somehow ended up studying furniture design. I was always dabbling in other stuff…fashion, printmaking, and the painting sort of ran alongside. I don’t have any work left from then – constantly moving home meant I gave it away or ditched it.

While at the RCA in London I had this idea of combining art and furniture, making sculptures using upholstery techniques. Then there followed many years working in non-artistic situations. I did a pretty good job of suppressing the need to make art, though it would regularly rear its head, so every now and then there would be a burst of creative energy. It increased when I moved to Sydney, as I purposefully migrated here because of the light. For years I kept my obsession of sanding and painting bits of mdf under wraps, but it got the better of me, so early last year I had to acknowledge this creative compulsion wouldn’t go away and I better start embracing the idea of being an artist. So I ‘came out’. Now I’m fully out with my first gallery show.


Suzie Idiens, ‘Red-Burgundy” 2009. Polyurethane and MDF.


Suzie Idiens, ‘Blue-White” 2009. Polyurethane and MDF.


What you are seeking to portray in your work? What is fundamental to your art – your philosophy and your process?

My work is an on-going investigation into formal concerns of colour, mass, line and spatial composition. I am constantly seeking to reduce something complex to a simple geometric form while considering how the object and its colour/finish will impact on its surrounding and the observer. Often it is about the space around the piece and the space occupied by the observer within that space as much as the piece itself. Fundamentally I am interested in the tension between proportion and perception, and where there is a compromise. Everyone has subjective perceptions of what they consider the truth; how can that be translated or pared back into a simple singular form? How can the balance or deliberate juxtaposition of colour and composition possibly express emotion – or possibly evoke one? It’s like trying to find a mathematical formula…

I refer to these 3D objects on the wall simply as ‘panels’, as they sit between the conventional definitions of painting and sculpture. Paint finishes and materials generally found in the building industry are perfect for manufacturing the high gloss reflective solid colour.

I think of the pieces in terms of groups or series, and they are chronological. Though I have sketches and plans for sets of series that are several ‘series’ ahead, there is an importance of making the pieces in a chronological order.

Can you tell us a little bit about your pieces on show at the Conny Dietzschold Gallery.

These pieces are grouped together starting with a piece I made back in 2001, to a group that were constructed in the UK and then completed last year in Sydney, and then another group that were completed this year to be added to this exhibition. All the pieces, bar one, are made of mdf with a high gloss polyurethane finish. The high gloss finish gives the panels a ‘manufactured’, solid appearance, it reflects everything, so the observer and the surrounding become integral to the piece.

Can you describe the process of creating your art? What does a typical day involve?

Depending on what stage of the process I at, I am either in my studio in St Peters or at a nearby factory who help me make my work. It all starts with sketches that are pretty small and basic, and are done impulsively, and always seem to come as a group or series. Generally, from the outset, the piece has a colour/s allocated. Then it gets more formal – sketches are converted into simple technical drawings, the pieces are divided into batches, the mdf gets cut, the forms made…and lots of sanding, filling, applying the undercoat, more sanding, filling, sanding and then the final top coat gets applied. Most of it is dusty, loud work – all to get this very glossy simple object.


Scans from Suzie’s sketchbook.


What are some of your main sources of inspiration? Are there any specific references you are drawing to regularly – books, websites/ blogs etc?

Light and space are my key drivers. I really enjoy those odd flashes of inspiration derived from what could be considered quite mundane. As those tend to be far and few between I’m always checking books and magazines for visual imagery to inspire me. Regular gallery visits to the MCA and ‘art after hours’ at the Art Gallery of NSW are helpful, too. Recently I haven’t got much further than your blog and a few websites of non-objective, reductive artist run spaces such as SNO and Minus Space as there are so many links and more links and further links…I get lost in it all and pop out in the real world a few hours later…

Who or what are some of your influences? What other artists, peers and creatives in general do you admire?

Reductive, concrete, non-objective art is my passion. Artists like Donald Judd, Ellsworth Kelly, Brice MardenDan Flavin, John McCracken, Barnett Newman, Callum Innes, Gerhard Richter, Piero Manzoni, Jenny Holzer…the list goes on. I am a big fan of work by Aboriginal artists Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Rusty Peters and Long Tom Tjapanangka, the architect Shigeru Ban, designer Kenya Hara, composers Avro Pärt, Phillip Glass and Susumu Yokota. Generally, I admire all those that follow their heart and give it a go, make it happen and do so with integrity.

What are you working on at the moment? And what’s next?

Right now there are two commissions from the show I am working on and another ‘batch’ of six panels sitting waiting to be made. Working on this exhibition has sparked another group of pieces I would like to make and show at some stage. Looking ahead, there’s talk of taking part in Art Stage Singapore and the project space at SNO centre in Marrickville.


Photos of Suzie’s mock ups and etchings. Her mock ups are made of thick coloured paper and are a scaled down version of what will be the original. “I make these for the panels that have a more complex (or hard to make) form, to check if I think they will work or if the proportion needs changing. By photographing them, they can give the impression of the final piece – though without the high gloss appearance – and it disguises the size to some extent”.


Let’s Get Personal:

Apart from your work, what other interests or hobbies do you have?

I am happiest when making something – print making, sewing, knitting, just making stuff. I enjoy travel and being exposed to different cultures, design and architecture. I am a sucker for magazines – ‘the gentlewoman’ is my latest hot favourite. Any publication linked with Li Edelkoort is exciting.

I love going to the movies, practicing yoga and going down to Bronte Beach in the morning for coffee and to count my blessings.

What are some of your favorite local galleries and shops {music, fashion, books, accessories, furniture vintage, art suppliers etc}?

To name just a few in no particular order…the MCA, Liverpool Street Gallery, Sarah Cottier Gallery, Martin Browne Gallery, James Doherty Gallery, the galleries in and around Danks Street Depot – in particular Conny Dietzschold Gallery, Gallery Barry Keldoulis and Breenspace. For ARIs (artist run initiatives) head to SNO in Marrickville or Peloton in Chippendale.

In Surry Hills there’s Metalab in Fitzroy Place for beautiful jewellery and further down Crown Street there’s Title, stocked with great variety of music, film and books. As for gifts and homewares, I am spoilt rotten at Koskela. Tessuti fabrics caters for my weakness of collecting off cuts. On Oxford Street there’s Oxford Art Supplies, the lovely clothes shopGorman, and the book shops Ariel and Berkelouw, which offer a kind of Bermuda triangle for whiling away time and expanding the mind. I regularly visit the Australian Centre for Photography further up the road, too.

Closer to home Ruby’s Diner on Bronte Road makes a great coffee and breakfast, and not far is Vinnies at Charing Cross, for a good rummage. Queuing on the street for bread from Iggy’s on a Sunday morning is well worth it.

Further afield in Melbourne I love wondering the streets of Fitzroy and always make a point of visiting Toolz. And even further afield: the concept store Merci in Paris is a great experience and wherever there isMUJI, I will go.


Suzie in front of her studio in St Peters.


What is your most treasured belonging?

My husband, though he’s not a belonging. And our health – that’s not a belonging either.

It’s not very cool, but I really like…


Your favourite joke?

Can’t tell a joke to save my life…sorry!


Photos of Suzie’s current exhibition at Conny Dietzschold Gallery at Danks Street Depot.


SUZIE IDIENS “Painted Objects”
Exhibition Dates 5 June – 30 June 2010

2 Danks Street | Sydney Waterloo NSW 2017 | Tel: +61 2 9690 0215 | Fax: +61 2 9690 0216
Email: |
Opening hours: Tue – Sat 11 am – 5 pm

About The Author

Dana Tomić Hughes
Founder & Editor

Dana is an award-winning interior designer living in Sydney, Australia. With an unhealthy passion for design, Dana commits to an abnormal amount of daily design research. Regular travel and attendance at premier design events, enables Dana to stay at the forefront of the design world globally. While she is super serious about design, Dana never takes herself - nor design - too seriously. Together with her life and business partner, Dana is Boss Lady at Studio Yellowtrace, specialising in Design Strategy, Creative Direction and Special Projects. The studio takes a highly conceptual and holistic approach to translating brands & ideas into places & experiences.

3 Responses

  1. Beattie

    I love your blog and delighted to see my friend suzie interviewed.
    I agree with you about the art works being so much more in the flesh.
    Definately go if you haven’t been yet people.

  2. Estelle

    A great blog and an interesting interview. I am, of course, completely biased as Suzie’s sister – but it always amazes me what presence her artwork has. It may look simple but the impact is far reaching. Thought provoking but calming – just what I look for in art.

    Now, off to have a mooch around this great blog!


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