The art of interior design takes many forms across an almost infinite range of taste and style, but to be truly great, one must have the ability to see things from a client’s perspective while also bringing a unique vision and expertise earned through years of experience. It’s all about meeting needs while also understanding what works and what doesn’t, and how each design choice will stand the test of time.
Premier South Florida interior designer Louis Shuster of Fort Lauderdale’s Shuster Design Associates has followed these tenets throughout his four-decade career, creating stunning, functional spaces with a simple, timeless approach that has earned him a place among the region’s wealthiest and most discerning home and business owners.
Shuster has won numerous awards and accolades for his work, including the HALO award for excellence in lighting design and the coveted GUILDA Designer of the Year Award from 1982 through the present. Thanks to his years of building relationships and an impeccable reputation for quality, Shuster now takes on major projects from the ground up, often consulting with architects, builders and even landscape architects, to form a collaborative plan and ensure all facets of a space come together as a cohesive whole — and in areas like Palm Beach, he’s rarely impeded by budget constraints.
No project is exactly like any other in the Shuster Design portfolio, making each home or commercial endeavor a unique reflection of that client’s desires merged with Shuster’s stylish yet practical interpretation and execution. He does not do cookie-cutter designs.
Shuster recently chatted with Dan’s Papers about his work and how eschewing trends and gimmicks in favor of longevity, graceful functionality and a discriminating, sharp aesthetic eye brought him to the top of his game.
Tell us about your background and how you came to be an interior designer.
My background began in my early 20s — after graduating college in Philadelphia — in menswear. I was hired as a buyer and shopped the Italian, French and British markets for over 10 years bringing high fashion to the city. My clients and European manufacturers marveled at my ability to blend fabrics and colors, and my keen eye for high-end fashion led to my interest in design. I then attended the Philadelphia College of Art in hopes of pursuing a new career in design. I sold my clothing business and moved to South Florida to begin designing at 30 years of age.
What do you consider your signature style or your claim to fame when it comes to design?
I attribute my success to my style. The tagline on all my work is: “The signature is unmistakable.” I believe timeless comes to mind. Longevity. Classic. No gimmicks. Clean design.
Do design trends in Florida and the Palm Beach area differ greatly from those in the Northeast?
Needless to say, I am not big on Florida design trends. My clients come to me for a different design approach. Innovative comes to mind. Trends seem to put an obvious time frame on design work, especially in Florida. Although Florida is definitely a trendsetter and a leader in new products, colorations and finishes, we tend to overdo these things which automatically date the project. My designs are still fresh 10 years after initial installation.
Can you share some of those trends?
Florida’s weather is conducive to family, friends and entertaining. Multiple usage with furniture layouts and practical furniture is important to the lifestyle. Game tables opening for dining, outdoor kitchens as practical as indoor kitchens, multiple-use bedrooms and office combinations, practical seating, etcetera.
You have a nice range of work. Which projects do you like to work on most? Do you have any career favorites?
The projects I enjoy most are usually the ones that challenge my abilities and design sense. Difficult spaces present design barriers which need solutions. Brightening dark spaces due to lack of natural light with proper colors, finishes and lighting. Architectural details can transform and modernize an old space. Design challenges always make for a more interesting approach to design and problem solving.
What is the key to good interior design? How should a homeowner approach it?
I have always felt the adage “form follows function” remains the key to good design. Practicality and comfort with good looks and great fabrics and textures and colors make for great rooms. Homeowners should have a wish list of all wants and needs to suit their lifestyles.
What’s the best way to reach you for a project or a visit?
I am extremely reachable. With a highly professional staff of eight, I am easily found and make it a practice to return calls immediately. I also take pride in a very complete and expansive website, shusterdesign.com, showing all facets of my work, published interiors and commercial installations.
Shuster works with a skilled team of interior designers, associates and administrative personnel at Shuster Design Associates, based in Fort Lauderdale and serving clients in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Aventura, Boca Raton, Palm Beach, Orlando, Naples, Pass-a-grille Beach, Stuart, Highland Beach and the Florida Keys, along with other cities across the country and around the world. Learn more at shusterdesign.com.