An interview with Suzie de Rohan Willner, CEO of Toast


The CEO of Toast, a leader in the ‘slow fashion’ movement (well-made garments that last a lifetime, with an emphasis on craft and simple design), talks about what makes her tick


How has your personal style evolved?

I’ve always been passionate about clothing. As a student in Paris I would spend my entire allowance on new collections and got a good schooling in less-is-more and the joy of playing with texture and colour. During my years at Levi Strauss in Brussels, I wore denim every day – when you do that, you become obsessed with fit and the quality of fabric. Today, I wear Toast from head to toe – I love the timeless sense of ease and functionality of the clothes, paired with rich textures and muted colour.

How do you invest in yourself?

I dedicate time every day to doing something that nurtures my creativity. It re-energises me and stops me getting lost in my head.

Who is your design hero?

I have just been to see Anni Albers’ work at the Tate Modern. I love the way it blurs the line between traditional craft and contemporary art, and was particularly moved by her Six Prayers, commissioned by the Jewish Museum in New York. It took my breath away.

What is your favourite building?

Fallingwater by Frank Lloyd Wright – for the courageous and truly innovative vision, for the integrity and simplicity of design. Remarkable.

Describe your dream house

It would need old stone to ground me in time and place, mixed with modern design and expansive views of the natural world outside.

From left: The Tate Modern in London; Colourful kilims are a favourite around the house.

What is your own home like?

I live in a traditional Victorian home with natural wood flooring and a mid-century, Bauhaus-style, elevated extension at the back. It has a view of a large olive tree that reminds me of France. I like the pairing of traditional and modern. The interior is a similar mix, with mid-century furniture, warm cushions and throws collected over the years, colourful kilim rugs, plants everywhere and art by various members of the family: portraits, landscapes, photography. I love seeing the creative output of different generations in each room.

How do you relax?

I read, I walk and I sit in cafes, people-watching for inspiration.

Which iconic interior product do you wish you had designed?

Alexander Calder’s mobile.

What are you sitting on right now?

An Ercol chair that I bought 20 years ago at a Brussels flea market for five euros – a piece of truly authentic and iconic design.

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