Susan North was brought aboard at Jim Thompson as a “globally oriented” senior design director within the furnishing department, a new role for her and the company.
Most recently serving as creative director for Scalamandré, and having held top design positions at Schumacher and Thibaut, North will now work with Jim Thompson’s Thailand team to develop fabrics, wallcoverings and trimmings.
Her appointment, which was made in November, was a long time in coming. Says Jim Thompson creative director Ou Baholyodhin, “Susan’s decades in the luxury textiles and home furnishings industry is an invaluable asset to our company. I have waited five years to find exactly the right co-pilot, and now that we have Susan’s wealth of technical knowledge, unquestionable good taste and seasoned experience on board, I have every confidence that Jim Thompson will only grow from strength to strength.”
How will the new role fit within Jim Thompson’s greater growth initiative? North tells EAL, “One of the ways that Jim Thompson plans to grow its home furnishings globally is through increasing the current line in not only textiles, but also wallcoverings, trimmings and possibly other products, too. It’s going to be very important to combine staying true to the brand creatively with broadening the scope of what we have to offer. So I will be working to bring quite a few new ideas and products to our line, and blend what’s new with our core vision for the brand.”
Asked for a sneak preview, she says she’s planning a modern interpretation of the brand’s Asian silk textile legacy, as well as implementing a new focus on performance. “The incredible craft of hand weaving is core to the Jim Thompson brand, but it will be an updated look with contemporary pattern, scale and color. We’re also looking to combine the luxury we are known for with the need for performance that is so important in today’s interior design world. So you will see very high performing but glamorous textiles that are inspired by our beautifully crafted Thai textiles, but interpreted with new yarns and structures. One upcoming collection that is especially exciting to develop is a second collaboration with the New York–based Rockwell Group. It’s very focused on luxury, but with a view to performance, so it will include textiles that are as suitable for residential use as they are for commercial spaces.”
The industry she’s a part of is one that is quickly evolving, North admits. “The way designers, and their clients, shop and source product keeps changing rapidly, and it’s critical to keep up with it all if your brand is to stay visible. Their expectations have also changed dramatically in this instant world—it’s always, ‘What’s next?’
“And things move on so quickly. If product is beautifully crafted, and not instantly made, it’s even more important to tell its story, but there are also increased avenues now for doing that. It’s so incredibly gratifying to see how our beautiful products can be completely transforming in the hands of a talented interior designer. Good design changes our world; it’s amazingly powerful. It’s always so rewarding to see something you’ve nurtured for perhaps a year or even two come to life and then how it can actually completely change how someone experiences an interior.”