The April 2015 issue of Living Barbados, the renowned magazine on the island, featured our wonderful Jenny Blanc Design Director, Sue Thomas-Richardson, whose knowledge of the island where she grew up has been fundamental in shaping the company as it stands today…
In 2002 award winning interior design company Jenny Blanc, set up their first office in Barbados from which to administer the increasing number of projects they were being commissioned to work on in the Caribbean. In December 2011 the company opened their highly successful lifestyle showroom in St. James which has become a target destination for visitors looking for beautiful, original furnishings for their homes. Barbados is a central hub for the rest of the Caribbean and the showroom serves to represent Jenny Blanc’s design style to the many holiday home owners on the island. Key to the success of their expansion into this area, has been Barbadian – born, Sue Thomas-Richardson, Design Director for the company, whose indispensable wealth of local knowledge and expertise ensured that the beautiful interiors they designed were perfectly suited for the tropical climate.
Sue comes from a very old Barbadian family, her ancestors having arrived on the island in the 1600’s as settlers of the New World. Her family all have a strong artistic leaning. Her mother, Audrey Thomas, internationally renowned and respected as a horticulturalist, is the shining light of the gold medals awarded over many years for the famous Barbados exhibits at the Chelsea Flower Show. Audrey was awarded the Barbados Centennial Honour for her services to horticulture on the island and this year, at the eminent age of 92, she opened her beautiful garden to the public to raise funds for the Barbados Horticultural society. Two of Sue’s brothers own and manage Growing Things, one of the leading landscape companies in Barbados.
Sue was educated at Queens College in Barbados and in her teens threw javelin for her school and later Barbados. She held the Caribbean record for several years. In the 1970’s she joined her parents on an extended trip to the UK and decided to take the opportunity to further her education, finally training as a nurse and qualifying as an SRN in 1978.
Returning home in the 1980’s, Sue worked for several years in the travel industry for a British company specialising in luxury villa holidays on the West Coast of Barbados. She was based in the offices of real estate company, Alleyne & Aguilar, now Altmans Real Estate. She started her career in interior design when she was offered a job by Heather Aguilar-Swan, one of the most prominent designers on the island. Here she learnt all the essential basics of interior design and assisted on large hotel projects, private residences and commercial properties on the island. During this period, she tuned into her natural artistic talent and gained valuable expertise on designing in the tropics. She developed a love of paint techniques and in 1987 returned to London to study at the Leonard Pardon School in Knightsbridge. In 1990, she moved full-time to the UK as a freelance designer/decorator for interior designers both in the UK and Barbados. Sue was also a key member of the team at Holbein Collection in the UK, a leading manufacturer of bespoke curtain accessories. A painting commission introduced Sue to Jenny Blanc and thus an enduring design partnership was created.
In addition to the awards of World’s Best Interior Design for a Private Residence for a UK property in 2012 and Best International Interior Design for a Port St. Charles, Barbados Apartment in 2007, Jenny Blanc has won four awards for the design team’s work in the Caribbean. As Design Director, Sue’s knowledge and creativity were invaluable in these winning projects in some of the most prestigious areas of the island including the West Coast, Port St. Charles, Royal Westmoreland Estate and Apes Hill.
Sue is still Bajan to the core and very proud of her Barbadian heritage. Through her work she is very keen to promote the talents and expertise of her fellow Bajans. Many of the design projects include pieces of furniture she has designed and had made locally by skilled artisans in Barbados. Jenny Blanc is currently developing an exclusive range of Barbadian made furniture which will be available throughout the Caribbean and beyond. In 2014 Sue and Jenny created the Jenny Blanc Design Scholarship to enable design students from the Barbados Community College to fine tune their skills at a London college and gain invaluable hands-on experience at both their London and Barbados showrooms. The first scholarship winner has spent 6 months working at the London showroom and passed her exams in computer aided design with flying colours. She is now using her new skills and experience in the Jenny Blanc Barbados showroom.