Emily Rich Summers was born in Kansas City, Missouri. She received a Fashion Merchandising scholarship and attended Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. In 1966, she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from SMU. Later, she continued her education by completing five more years (1975–1980) of Post Graduate studies in Art History. During her studies at SMU, she worked at the fashion offices at Neiman Marcus. Today, she directs an in house team of designers and collaborates with architects. The firm has offices located in both Dallas and New York City. Summers is married to Steve Summers. They have three grown children, Caroline, Laura and Stephen.
She has been recognized by Architectural Digest as one of the 100 Best Architects and Interior Designers in the World. By Presidential Appointment she served on the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation from 2002 to 2006. Here, she served as Chair for the Communication, Education, and Outreach Committee. Summers also received Interiors Magazine’s 16th Annual Award. This award was for Best Residential Design for a private residence. The residence was featured in the 2012 book,The Iconic House: Architectural Masterworks Since 1900, by Dominic Bradbury.
Known for creating crisp, elegantly restrained contemporary rooms that still have a warm soulfulness, Emily Summers is a master at softening modernism’s hard edges with sumptuously upholstered furniture and rich, tactile finishes. Befitting a decorator who cites influences as diverse as the streamlined artisanal products of the Wiener Werkstätte, the monolithic architecture of Louis Kahn, and the playfully sculptural furniture of John Dickinson, she eschews prescriptive approaches to modern design and delights in occasional whimsical notes. Summers, who considers auction catalogues bedtime reading, also believes that artworks are of prime importance—one of the reasons her Dallas firm offers not only interior design services but also art consultation.