Interior Designer and Principal,
Suzanne Rheinstein & Associates
Those things for which I am most grateful to Newman School are the ways I learned to see, not just look, and the ways I was taught to gather ideas, sort them out, and arrange them into a sequential whole, edited and polished . These skills have held me in good stead throughout my life and especially at the various jobs I’ve held, paid, volunteer and in my own home
I was an English Literature major at Tulane, and managing editor of the newspaper. Our mentor was Hodding Carter, the Mississippi newspaper editor who won the Pulitzer Prize for his editorials on racial and religious bigotry. Later, I assisted Mr. Carter and his wife Betty, in researching their books. I spent a few interesting years editing at a regional publishing house, then off I went to Washington DC and worked for Eric Sevareid at CBS News, as a “Girl Friday”, during the height of the Vietnam War and Watergate. I finished up my career in TV by being a freelance, non fiction producer, doing everything from serious documentaries to celebrity cooking shows. Producing non-fiction television content is not unlike writing an English paper.
By this time, I had married, moved to Los Angeles and was staying at home with a small child. Ever taught by Newman to be “philanthropic”, I used my skills to edit a newsletter for a small museum where I volunteered and to write proposals for foundation grants for the non-profit on whose board I sat. The same skills were used for the get-togethers that fulfilled my family’s desire for a house filled with lots of friends and interesting food.
I opened my shop, Hollyhock, in a small village near our house and our daughter’s school I followed my familiar path of gathering ideas (in this case, antique chairs, quirky one of a kind decorations and artisanal objects) placing them in pleasing arrangements, editing and polishing. The shop enabled me to begin designing interiors – the profession for which I am most known. I have been fortunate to be honored over the years with the NYSID Albert Hadley Award for Lifetime Achievement, The Southern California ICAA Legacy Award, the LCDQ Living Legends Award and the LACMA Design Leadership Award. I have written two books on my work for Rizzoli.
My abiding passion is for gardens and gardening (same skills apply!) and I still sit on the board of the Garden Conservancy. Preservation and adaptive reuse of historic buildings and gardens are strong interests of mine. Perhaps due to my experience at Newman, I believe in offering excellent educational opportunities to those with and without means. I sit on the board of the academically strong Episcopal School of Los Angeles where a quarter of the students live below the poverty line and many more receive some financial assistance. I am also involved in a program my late husband conceived and funded that brings Los Angeles County high school students, along with a parent, for four opera performances and a live music pre-program. Newman reinforced what my family believed – that we share throughout our lives as we can and without waiting to be super successful to “give back”.
I treasure the happy times spent learning English from Mrs. Grout and from drawing in Mrs. Shea’s studio, Puccini wafting from the record player. From these teachers and so many more at Newman School, I learned the kinds of critical thinking skills that I’ve relied upon in my day to day life.