For over thirty years, Suzan Decker Ross of the American Society of Interior Designers has been preparing for the design performance of her life: being selected as the interior designer for the massive renovation and expansion of a regional cultural gem, Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater. As the owner of award-winning Decker Ross Interiors, she and her team have skillfully undertaken a variety of projects in every style imaginable. From the historical landmark Capitol Theatre renovation to a contemporary, sleek high-end med-spa, Decker Ross and her team of talented designers possess the creative knowledge and attention to detail necessary to tackle a project of this magnitude and importance.
Decker Ross and senior designer Marci Tempesta worked closely with the Ruth Eckerd Hall board of directors and Susan Crockett, its president and CEO, to re-envision the overall design concept, color palette, flooring and surface finishes, and to add new upscale furnishings and artistic custom pieces featuring the work of local artisans.
“My creative vision incorporates a sophisticated, elegant, timeless design aesthetic, which includes an art deco inspired colorful glass art suspended donor wall,” Decker Ross said. “Following many sleepless nights of 3 a.m. inspirations, I knew I had to find just the right person to bring my creative vision to life.” I collaborated with Kathleen Bromley and Kara Ramdas of Katglass Studio because of their forty-year professional reputation as a premier studio specializing in custom stained, leaded, Tiffany and fused glass creations as well as their historical repair and restoration throughout the Southeast.”
Located in the Dress Circle Lounge, the Glass Donor Wall features traditional stained and leaded glass panels, along with 180 fused glass panels that incorporate painted donor names. While Katglass Stained Glass Studio of Clearwater was completing the glass art production, Waylon Smith of All Metals Custom was fabricating the welded aluminum framework to hold the glass pieces in place. “The biggest challenge was to be sure that all of the glass fit in the correct location,” Smith said, “along with the tremendous amount of time required for welding and installing this project.”
Katglass Stained Glass Studio encouraged Suzan Decker Ross, Marci Tempesta and Susan Crockett to create a custom glass piece to be included in the donor wall, and a framed quad set of dichroic fused glass art compositions that were created by Suzan hangs in the upstairs Dress Circle Lounge.
“Whenever possible, we strive to include the work of local artisans in our designs,” Suzan said. “Because the mission of a performing arts center is to enrich the cultural lives of the community it serves, I particularly wanted to bring in the work of as many artists as possible.”
Decker Ross was inspired to bring in artist Stephen Palladino to paint two murals from his series known simply as Paparazzi Paintings. “I am beyond honored that I was asked to add my work to the walls of Ruth Eckerd Hall. It was surreal to paint these pieces in a place I visited many times in my life,” Palladino said. Decker Ross also playfully added the colorful, upcycled mosaic musical instruments made by Safety Harbor artist Holly Apperson of GinHol Mosaics to several locations in the Dress Circle Lounge and Grand Lobby.
“We asked Suzan to bring a breath of fresh air that would leave guests breathless from the personal touches,” said Crockett, Ruth Eckerd Hall’s CEO. “Ruth Eckerd Hall is renowned for consistent quality with joyful moments woven into the experience. We wanted the interior to reflect that. I knew we were in good hands with Suzan and Marci.” Suzan Decker Ross is thrilled to have played the lead in the design of a lifetime.