For almost four decades, Sue Firestone has cultivated her personal passion for design, operating two California based leading international interior design firms and assembling a portfolio that includes the world’s luxury estates and premier five-and six-star resorts.
As Chairman and Founder of sfa design, Sue has led the firm to complete acclaimed projects in some of the most fascinating destinations throughout U.A.E, Mexico, Asia and the United States. She has designed private estates for top celebrities and Fortune 500 business leaders such as: the Chairman of Oracle, 6 homes for the founder of Legendary Pictures and Chairman of Nvidia. Providing services for acclaimed hotel operators such as Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Ritz Carlton Hotels, Waldorf Astoria Collection, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, Abu Dhabi National Hotels and Walt Disney Parks & Resorts, Sue’s dedication to carrying out each client’s distinct vision to its fullest artistic potential along with her personal passion for travel helps bring global perspectives and novel design concepts to each of sfa’s designs.
Growing up in Malibu in the 1960's, Sue always felt a sense of connection and appreciation for her surroundings. She spent the majority of her time immersed in nature, riding horses, hiking the Santa Monica Mountains, and getting lost in her thoughts amongst the tide-pools at Point Dune.
Sue felt most at home and alive when immersed in nature. Her innate love for the outdoors became even stronger, when she sailed around the world at 20, with family and friends in a sailboat they purchased and renovated themselves. It was in that maiden journey in 1976 that Sue was first exposed to new corners of the earth, and found herself inspired and completely in tune with the power and beauty of nature.
With fresh, interested eyes Sue absorbed a myriad of cultures that left her with a deep appreciation for the uniqueness and impact of each new space.
Seeing places almost completely untouched by humanity and living for months at a time with little contact with the outside world left Sue with a passion for what we would today call "green" living, and an eagerness to incorporate her experiences into her personal taste in design.
Her ignited passion for all things aesthetic led Sue to finish her Pottery and Arts studies for a position at Design 1, a Los Angeles-based design firm in 1976.
In just four years with Design 1, Sue rose from designer to president. During her two decades directing the company, Sue led Design 1 to become the sixth largest design firm (with over 90 employees) in the United States including international offices in Hong Kong and Paris. In 1996, after two decades directing Design 1, Sue turned her focus toward creating a boutique-style firm, large enough to execute projects of grand scale, but personal enough to truly provide the direct personal attention for each client. The result was sfa design, a Santa Barbara-based global design firm.
Throughout her design career, Sue has lived by the strict philosophy of fully appreciating the client's vision, lifestyle and point of view in order to intelligently reflect them in all aspects of design.
Sue has also always tried to find new ways to incorporate her fervor for healthy, eco-friendly living into her design concepts. While aesthetic goals used to be sacrificed in favor of environmentally responsible design, today, new, exquisite sustainable products and practices appear on the scene daily and sfa is well-versed in each new development. In fact, at this point Sue believes there is no need to choose between good design and a "green" approach, or using local sources whenever possible.
With a portfolio inclusive of 5-star hotels and luxury estate homes worldwide, Sue's vision for eco-design now spans the globe. In 2011, sfa completed the design of the Hilton Windhoek Hotel in Windhoek, Namibia, a top "eco-luxury" destination, and in Monterrey, Mexico, Sue's team worked with world-famous architect Cesar Pelli to create a LEED Platinum Certified mixed-use tower. With a growing number of eco-projects under her belt, Sue was invited to chair the Environmental Sustainability and Performance Panel at Cornell University's 2012 Hospitality Research Summit, where she shared her experiences in green design and sustainable solutions. Setting her apart from other green designers is Sue's passion for an overall healthy and holistic lifestyle. Sue believes in a proactive approach; that through research and technology spaces can be more than just preventive or sustaining; they can actually improve our health and well-being.
After achieving more than two dozen awards, including the prestigious Platinum Circle Award from Hospitality Design, and a place on Robb Report’s “Top 40 Best Designers in the World,” Sue is focusing her design creativity on a line of fabrics and furniture that is near and dear to her heart. The line will be directly related to nature and her passion for the outdoors and travel. It will also reflect her true nature as an authentic California native who was deeply inspired by legendary Michael Taylor and Steve Chase during the late 70’s. She felt an alliance with their natural design and wants to pay homage to this initial inspiration. Early in her career she was fascinated on further creating the California look and spreading it internationally.