Bringing a signature, elegant design sensibility to luxury properties in Baltimore and beyond
Patrick Sutton is the owner of Patrick Sutton. One of Baltimore’s premier interior designers, Patrick has earned recognition for his stylish and sophisticated interior designs for residential and hospitality properties throughout the world. His design studio, Patrick Sutton, has designed the interiors of Tudor homes, private jets, restaurants, shopping centers, theaters, and luxury hotels such as Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank’s recently-opened Sagamore Pendry Baltimore—where citybizlist interviewed Patrick for this interview. The designer spoke with us about his childhood, his work with Kevin Plank, and his hopes for Baltimore’s future.
EDWIN WARFIELD: You’ve made quite a name for yourself and your studio. Tell us about your approach to the work: Has it evolved? Have you reached a point where clients feel comfortable giving you free rein over a project?
PATRICK SUTTON: First of all, no one has ever told me I have free rein to do whatever I want—and even if they do, they’re lying. We do a deep immersion with our clients. The last thing I want to do is impose my way of living on you. Now, having said that, most clients come to me or any other designer because they connect to something about who I am and see that I am someone who lives a life, or at least understands a life, that is similar to the one they want. Someone that wants something different than I espouse is going to go to a different designer, and that’s what you want; I’m not for everybody.
I think what you do is you spend a lot of time upfront on the interview process, before you even take the job, because I’m not going to take a job that’s not right for me—because it’s not going to be right for you. What we will do is we’ll spend a lot of time understanding who you are, the way you want to live; we’ll send imagery back and forth; and I get a sense of you. I think one gift that I have is to understand people intrinsically. I can see what it is that they’re saying—or quite frankly, not saying—and get a sense of what the life that they want to lead is. When I understand that, and my team understands that, I can be incredibly targeted in how I’m designing for you.
Q. How have things changed over the years? How do you make sure your designs stay fresh as new trends come and go?
A. People ask me about trends a lot. I don’t ascribe to trends; I ascribe to the energy and the zeitgeist that’s behind them, which I think is at the heart of your question. What I have noticed is that—remember the big 80s, which really was the big 80s and 90s?—people are moving away from size and they’re moving to quality. There are two things that I have noticed: people are much more interested in detail and experiences. People are buying experiences before they’re buying grandeur. Not everybody wants to show how ostentatious they are because they have a giant palace, but more, they want a curated lifestyle with things that actually are meaningful to them. I think people have become more in tune with their mortality, and they have more a sense of how long they have on this planet and they want to make the most of it. They want every day to be filled with rich experiences, and I think that leads to more and better quality designs than just sort of large expanses.
Q. What do you see in your future?
A. I think the thing that I’m most excited about is the future of Baltimore. I’ve been lucky enough to work with Kevin Plank for a number of years now. Sometimes I design projects like this hotel for him; sometimes I position to just make sure his vision is shepherded, and his vision is expansive and it’s very exciting. If you think about all the assets that Baltimore has that nobody seems to know about—they think of us as The Wire or Homicide, which this has now erased that and given a new chapter—if you think about what we have, we’ve got the deepest inland port in the United States; 45 minutes from Washington, DC; 2 hours, 15 minutes from New York City; nobody seems to know how many assets we really have. So, for example, Kevin has just recently acquired the water taxi, and he’s designing these new boats that are authentic to the Chesapeake watermen—like when you go to Florence and you see the red tile roofs of Florence, and that expresses what makes Florence, Florence—we have all of those attributes here and pretty soon we are going to have a water taxi system that you can use like Uber to go from point-to-point all along our beautiful harbor that heretofore has been only maybe 50% engaged, and now we’ve got this incredible water taxi system with unique boats, specifically to ours. We’ve got a new distillery, based on Kevin’s vision for making rye, that is plunked down in Port Covington, and the whole new expansion of the city into Port Covington, which is 240 acres of new, vibrant, mixed-use development that’s just going to help our city engage in its waterfront. For example, I could take a water taxi from this hotel, walk out the door, grab it, go over to Port Covington, engage in a whole new section of Baltimore, have dinner at the distillery—and all of these things are happening and nobody seems to know about it, and we’re right in the middle of it, so it’s very exciting for me.
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