From their calm and ultra-modern Sausalito studio, designer Susan Collins Weir and her husband and business partner, designer Chris Weir, are creating a sensation among design fans, architects, and clients in the know.
Admired for modern, refined interiors with the enrichment of superbly curated art, Studio Collins Weir, founded in 2015, also enlivens décor with significant custom furniture showing craftsmanship, contrast, daring creativity, and timeless inspiration.
“We both have a very strong background in art, design, architecture, and furniture design, and we love working directly with great clients to craft spaces for them,” Susan says. “Design concepts are inspired by the clients, their families, and their values. This approach has allowed Chris and me to work on design teams with some of the best architects in the business. When we collaborate with an architectural team, we realize their vision down to the finest detail.”
Chris Weir and Susan Collins Weir
The interior design practice the Weirs have built arose from their mutual desire to create rigorously well-crafted interiors. While they do not practice architecture in the traditional sense, their design process is rooted in their past experience in the field. They craft spaces that are not driven by trend, but rather gain their momentum from a deep understanding of context and client.
“Chris runs the interior architecture projects and leads the design of custom furnishings and our bespoke pieces,” notes Susan. “I run the interior design projects, but we are always discussing the jobs, the design direction, and collaborating—all while directing our staff of seven amazingly talented women.
Studio Collins Weir is currently working on an array of residences around Northern California, including a Victorian house in Mission Dolores for a bachelor who takes inspiration from minimalists Dan Flavin and Donald Judd.
A complete interior remodel of a Victorian home in San Francisco. The Weirs worked with the architect and client to space plan the interiors, develop the interior finishes and millwork, and furnish the interiors.
Photo by Adam Rouse Photography
Their diverse commissions include the interiors for an estate in Atherton, as well as interior architecture and planning for a home in Venice Beach. Also on the boards: a mountain retreat in Martis Camp at Lake Tahoe as well as a dramatic new residence with architect John Maniscalco on the top of Mount Tiburon with 360-degree views of the Bay.
“We consider ourselves Modernists, and we believe in clear detailing and an honest expression of materials,” Chris says. “We also believe in recognizing the context of a project. It is important to acknowledge the spaces and clients we are working with. We use this research as the foundation of each project. The only way to do this is to listen. We pay attention to what the site informs us and to subtle aspects of our clients’ dreams and practical requirements. I think this is a big part of what makes our practice work smoothly and our clients happy.”
“Listening to clients is the most important part of a project,” Susan adds. “Our clients’ ideas and lifestyle inspire the direction. We are designing to a set of values rather than a look or feel. This helps projects feel immediate while avoiding the trap of trendiness. We are interested in design ideas of the moment. They have their place but are usually not the backbone of a project.”
Photo by Adam Rouse Photography
Chris also notes that inspiration can be abstract or very specific. “One of our first projects in Colorado was a beautiful ranch outside of Aspen,” he says. “In our first meeting, I was shown a large-scale and very expressive painting by artist Mary Weatherford that the homeowners had recently acquired. The color, scale, and medium and modernity of the piece were a dramatic contrast to the natural landscape surrounding the home. That sense of juxtaposition became the starting point for our interiors.”
The Weirs often custom-design furniture. “A beautifully executed piece of furniture is an expression of the skill of the maker and the care of the designer,” Susan says. “A craftsperson can’t make something exquisite without being a master of their tools, and one can’t design a perfect thing without caring enough to complete an idea beyond a simple brief.” Custom pieces usually grow out of an unmet need in the market or a unique space to fill, Chris explains. The furniture becomes important to the overall design of the interiors and a great pleasure for the family.
In a project recently completed in Healdsburg, Studio Collins Weir used one massive slab of Claro Walnut to create a dining table for 10 and a large round coffee table. “We chose the timber with our client on a trip to rare wood specialists Arborica, and met legendary wood artisan Evan Shively, in Marshall, north of San Francisco,” Susan recalls. “The poetry was that the fallen tree from which the slab was cut was once majestically in the center of Vacaville. This is a memorable experience for our client. The tables were fabricated at a studio on the San Francisco waterfront and the location was on the commute home for our client. He was able to stop by during the fabrication and see the pieces built in real time. In the end, the tables are very beautiful and tactile, but especially they now represent an important moment and experience in the client’s life.”
Interior design services for a home designed by Feldman Architecture. The Weirs worked together to develop the interior material palette and millwork, and designed the interior furnishings with the client. After finding a massive slab of walnut at Arborica that the client fell in love with, the designers used the trunk as a large dining table for 10 and the branch in the adjacent living room as the coffee table.
Photo by Nick Johnson Photography