Susanna Jarman – The Designer Project

We’ve had so much fun sharing the incredible work of Sydney-based designer Susanna Jarman of surface pattern label Elm Road and hope you’ve adored her current showcase! Susanna has a lifelong passion for beautiful fabrics and it really shows through her mid-century inspired, crisp graphic designs. Not only has Susanna made a range of her wonderfully statement designs available in our Fabric Shop as part of The Designer Project, but she has also put together a guest blog which we’ve featured below! The blog offers insight into Susanna’s background, inspiration and the process through which her stunning creations typically take shape. There’s also plenty of product visualisations to help you imagine all the different ways you could use Susanna’s designs. Keep reading to find out more about Susanna Jarman and her iconic designs!

Susanna Jarman


Hi there! I’m Susanna Jarman from Elm Road. Being totally elated to hear from the lovely Ella at Digital Fabrics, I’m so excited that they have chosen several of my surface patterns for “The Designer Project”.  So… the journey has begun!  Digital Fabrics’ model of promoting and supporting surface pattern designers like myself is an absolutely amazing opportunity.  Just the thought of having my patterns printed on beautiful natural textiles for you to use, is an inspiration in itself!

Thank you to the Team at Digital Fabrics!

“Rocks Skandi” cushion cover mock-up

My Background

Since I can remember textiles, print and surface patterns have played a huge role in my life. I’d say my biggest influences were definitely my parents, both keen homemakers in the 70s.  My mum’s passion for homemaking, involved hanging wallpaper and sewing curtains, cushions, and fabric wall-hangings from gorgeous fabrics designed by Marimekko, Marion Hall-Best and Florence Broadhurst.

I recall Mum taking my sister and I to many beautiful fabric shops like Finlandia in Woollahra. I’ve no doubt this is where I developed my passion for fabrics and patterns!

Susanna’s home studio

I work under the name of “Elm Road” which is the name of the road where my grandparents’ beautiful home was in a small village in UK.  I have fond memories of playing in their huge garden – a typically lush English style garden with gorgeous lawns, flower beds, lots of places to hide, and a huge fishpond full of Koi. Both my grandparents with the greenest of thumbs planted and nurtured the most amazing array of flowers, including English Stock, Hydrangeas and Geraniums.

Process work

Susanna’s fur babies


For me, I take my inspiration from nature and the beautiful surrounds of the Northern Beaches of Sydney where I live, as well as from memories of the beautiful gardens at Elm Road.

“Hibiscus Orange & Lilac”

When out walking I always have my camera on hand taking many pictures of flowers, leaves, nuts, berries etc.  Without even realising, this really is the beginning of the design process – ‘research’.  Upon taking these pictures, I then can’t wait to get back to the studio in order to start drawing. All the way home I’m visualising how the pattern design and colour will come to life!

“Hibiscus Orange & Lilac” tablecloth mock-up

Favourite Designers:  

Maija Isola, Orla Keily, Henry Matisse, Florence Broadhurst, Marion-Hall Best, and Elizabeth Olwen

“Hydrangea Lacecap Steely Blue”

What drives me? 

My passion for home-making, along with my interest in Mid-Century architecture, and love of 1960s/70s design. These, combined with my experience as a Studio Manager in a Graphic Design, Wide-Format Print Company.

“Hydrangea Lacecap Steely Blue” apron mock-up

Design Process

Firstly, I have to say, when designing I get so lost in my work – time becomes irrelevant. It really is my happy place!

The design process usually starts by drawing and doodling away in my sketch book, either in pencil or pen, or sometimes just straight onto my iPad.

“Hydrangea Cream Moptop”

Once I’m happy with the initial sketch, I take a photo of the drawing, upload it to my Mac and trace over the drawing in Affinity Designer. I work in vector as most of my designs are simple, and large scale, sometimes up to 1000mm in width.

I strip-back the original traced sketch in order to create thick, clean lines to give a contemporary flat-lay look. This is where the fun begins as the design can easily morph into something quite playful and different – I love this freedom

“Hydrangea Cream Moptop”

Once the layout/framework of the design is complete, it’s then time for colour. For me colour is an intuitive thing. I seem to have a go-to palette in my head. That’s what really drives/excites me. The thought of those colours, and visualising the finished pattern on fabric, wallpapers, dinner/homewares, anywhere – sometimes even before I’ve begun the sketch!

Once I’m happy with the overall design, the next step is to create the repeat tile. This is truly when magic begins.

“Hydrangea Cream Moptop” bedding mock-up


The last few years I have enjoyed being part of the local Christmas Markets utilising other designers’ beautifully designed fabrics to create hand-made soft furnishings, tote bags etc. Now that I’m working alongside Digital Fabrics I really look forward to my next Christmas Market, as it will be a dream come true showcasing Elm Road’s own, Australian Designed & Manufactured textiles made into an array of soft furnishings – amazing!

“Hibiscus Lime”

Elm Road’s patterns are somewhat versatile making them suitable for a variety of surfaces such as soft furnishings, homewares and wallpapers to name a few!  I’m really looking forward to seeing what you can create when using these fabrics!

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog 😊 To keep up with my latest designs follow Elm Road on Instagram, Facebook, or jump online.

“Hibiscus Lime” sofa mock-up


If you want to collaborate with us on The Designer Project and become part of this creative club, please apply! Send us an email with your portfolio and why you would like to be part of this initiative, and we will be in touch!

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