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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  1. So much for Eric Holder's conversation about race. If white people have got something to say, they get sued over it. Bottom line: white people have un-freer speech than others as a consequence of the misnamed "Civil rights laws."

  2. I agree, having seen three shows, that I was less than wowed. Disappointing!!

  3. Start drilling, start fracking, and start using our own energy. Other states have enriched their citizens and nearly elminated unemployment by using these resources that are on private land. If you are against the 'low prices' of discount stores, the best way to allow shoppers more choice is to empower them with better earnings. NOT through manipulated gov mandated min wage hikes, but better jobs and higher competitive pay. This would be direct result of using our own energy resources, yet Obama knows that Americans who arent dependent of gov welfare are much less likely to vote Dem, so he looks for ways to ensure America's decline and keep its citizens dependent of gov.

  4. Say It Loud, I'm Black and Ashamed: It's too bad that with certain "black" entertainment events, it seems violence and thuggery follows and the collateral damage that it leaves behinds continues to be a strain on the city in terms of people getting hurt, killed or becoming victims of crimes and/or stretching city resources. I remember shopping in the Meadows area years ago until violence and crime ended make most of the business pack you and leave as did with Lafayette Square and Washington Square. Over the past 10 to 12 years, I remember going to the Indiana Black Expo Soul Picnic in Washington Park. Violence, gang fights and homicides ended that. My great grandmother still bears the scares on her leg from when she was trampled by a group of thugs running from gun fire from a rival gang. With hundreds of police offices downtown still multiple shootings, people getting shot downtown during Black Expo. A number of people getting shots or murdered at black clubs around the city like Club Six on the west side, The Industry downtown, Jamal Tinsley's shot out in front of the Conrad, multiple fights and shootings at the skating rinks, shootings at Circle Center Mall and shooting and robberies and car jackings at Lafayette Mall. Shootings and gang violence and the State Fair. I can go on and on and on. Now Broad Ripple. (Shaking head side to side) Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Ashamed.

  5. Ballard Administration. Too funny. This is the least fiscally responsive administration I have ever seen. One thing this article failed to mention, is that the Hoosier State line delivers rail cars to the Amtrak Beech Grove maintenance facility for refurbishment. That's an economic development issue. And the jobs there are high-paying. That alone is worth the City's investment.