An interview with Susan Benn by Alison Harley

Susan Benn first studied textile design as a school student at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan, where she was taught by a set of now well-known textile designers, including Annie Albers, Loja Saarinen, Marianne Strengell, and Lillian Holm. From 1958 - ’59 Susan studied Textiles at the Royal College of Art, and whilst at the RCA, visited Scotland and Bernat Klein, subsequently working with Bernat Klein Ltd. and Bute Looms Ltd. as a textile designer in the early 1960s. Prior to this period, Susan had returned to the US to complete her architecture studies and received a BSc Design from the University of Michigan, School of Architecture and Design in 1960. She also holds an MA from the Courtauld Institute, London, which was under the supervision of Sir Anthony Blunt in the mid-1960s. Susan has served on the Council of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufacturers and Commerce, was a founder member of the board of London’s Metropolitan Film School, a trustee of The Courage Foundation, The Rye Art Gallery Trust, and is currently Chair of the Caribbean music theatre company Strongback Productions. She lives in the historic town of Rye in East Sussex, is Co-Directing her Anglo-Indian fashion label Shirt Story Ltd with her granddaughter ( and is working on a personal long-form journalistic photographic project documenting women working in and around Rye.