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2013 Forty Under 40: Nikki Sutton

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“I have a few different groups that call on me randomly, from the Spirit and Place Festival, the Indiana Humanities Council. I don’t often pick what I’m going to do. The phone just rings and I jump at the opportunity. I really love event-oriented, task-oriented, mission-oriented involvement. I’m very hands on.”

Age: 35

Owner, Level Interior Architecture + Design


Interior designer Nikki Sutton has her fingers in many artsy pies around town. She has designed spaces for noteworthy projects such as Indy Reads Books on Mass Ave., The Speak Easy in Broad Ripple and companies such as ExactTarget.

“I always say I’m responsible for designing the things you don’t take with you when you move,” rather than simply decorating, said Sutton, who has run her own business, Level Interior Architecture + Design, for five years. She works on residential as well as commercial projects.

She is also an advocate of style and fashion awareness. As such, in 2011 she co-founded Pattern, a social networking group for people involved in fashion in Indianapolis, and its companion publication, Pattern Paper. She served as editorial director for the first two issues, then turned it over to someone else.

“I like to help start things, and then I like to walk away when there’s enough momentum and let someone else have the opportunity to be a part of it,” said Sutton, who grew up on Indy’s south side and graduated from Southport High School.

She debated between architecture school at Ball State University and studying interior design at Indiana University. “The program and the professors and the [Bloomington] campus at IU just really spoke to me,” she recalled. “It seemed like the perfect fit for what I loved about architecture, but on a more human scale that I relate to as a designer.”

She recently finished a term on the board of the Indianapolis Museum of Art Design Arts Society.

For fun, she and her boyfriend, a furniture maker, scavenge through old buildings and collect stuff that they think has potential to be reinvented.

When she started her business, she promised herself she would take a vacation every year and travel, and she visits a different country in Europe every year.•

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