An exclusive interview with interior designer Sussanne Khan, who has won the coveted Asian designer of the year award in KL recently.
Her style is self-confessedly shabby chic. Eclectic is how she defines her approach to design. And her perseverance has paid off. Interior designer and founder of The Charcoal Project, Sussanne Khan has been bestowed with a well-deserved international honour. She has been honoured with Asia’s Most Influential Designer Award at the Designer Of The Year (DOTY) Awards 2019 in Kuala Lumpur. There is a child-like glee in her voice when you congratulate her. “It was a bit of surprise. There is a company in KL which has being doing this for the last decade. They had a lot of Asian designers they felicitate including three international designers since the last three years. Last year they chose, Kelly Hoppens and this year they chose me. They chose us as influencers who change trends and influence the design fraternity, I am overwhelmed,” she excitedly reveals in this telephonic chat.
It is not just an award but the culmination of a childhood dream the bore fruition when Sussanne launched her company in 2011. But her journey despite her sweet smile and tender demeanor has been far from rosy. Sussanne started working at the age of 22. “I was fresh from college and worked with my mum and even freelanced on my own with her team of people. I was young and had to face all kinds of tantrums from my clients. I was not disheartened. Initially you are bound to get negative feedback. But if you are convinced and believe in yourself then you should keep at it,” says the pragmatic designer influencer who has 1 million followers on insta.
This is also the medium where Sussanne’s ex-husband and BFF, Bollywood star Hrithik Roshan acknowledged her long road to success. “So, so proud of you Sussanne. You truly made an impossible childhood dream come true. More power to you.”
This ex-couple is a text book example of an ideal rapport between divorced spouses. It is a rare kind of rapport that is not even found in movies these days. “We both have a very special way of just understanding each other. It takes a lot of maturity to reach this love and we trust each other immensely. Hrithik and I have known each other from a very young age and there is shared history together. Hrithik has been a big influence on me. I have learnt time management from him. I have learnt how to work hard by watching him and he is someone who is constantly guiding me. He is a great father to our kids and a huge support to me. I would not have achieved all this success without his love and encouragement. It is a very special and pure bond that we share and we are in a good zone in this friendship with each other,” she confesses. Prod her about her enviable bond with Hrithik and she sweetly complies. “The secret is that we both have a very special way of just understanding each other. It takes a lot of maturity and we trust each other immensely. As we have known each other from a young age, there is a deep bond and a lot of history together. He is my best friend and will always be. Right now we are very happy with each other,” she reveals.
Sussanne and Hrithik have two sons, Hrehaan (13) and Hridaan (11). Both the boys are vocal about their opinions with their parents. “They are very intelligent and honest with their feedback with both of us about what they like or don’t like. Hridaan is a brilliant artist and focused towards art. My older son, Hrehaan, is part of a music band at the Dhirubhai Ambani International School and plays the guitar as a main lead. They both have the creative genes in them, “reveals the proud mother.
As gentle and angelic as Sussanne comes across, there is also a pragmatic approach in her attitude towards life. Coming from a family of female achievers, Sussanne believes it is important for women to be financial independent. “It doesn’t matter whether you are happy or unhappy in your marriage or relationship. I believe that one should always be contributing towards life and never stay idle. I always advise young women to have a career irrespective of how happily married they are. In fact, their in-laws and husband will value them more if they have an independent side to them,” she says.
The most remarkable aspect of Sussanne’s personality is that you rarely see her frown, no matter the upheavals she has undergone. You will always find her sporting a warm smiling. She laughingly admits, “It definitely comes down to my parents. They have taught my siblings and I to look at our glass as half full. That attitude has kept us grounded, never let defeat come in our way and made us strong. You realise this is life; there will be ups and downs. It is important to focus on your passions, devote time to your family and work and all will be good.” This simple philosophy best embodies the essence of Sussanne Khan.
As we wind up the chat, you tell her that fans hope that Hrithik and she will get back together and she sportingly responds by saying, “Honestly that is not something that is in anybody’s hands. Right now we are good friends, great parents and in a very happy space with each other.” And what better zone to be in than a blissful state.