A Love for Design and Global Adventures

Owner and designer Sue Stranger
Photos by Kamala Kirk

An artist and designer with eclectic tastes, Sue Stranger has journeyed around the world in search of unique items to sell in her store, Adobe Design, which has been in business for 26 years.

Adobe first opened in La Cañada Flintridge back in 1994, then six months ago Stranger relocated the shop to South Pasadena’s Mission Street.

“A new landlord came in and all of the businesses that were located on the old block I was on were forced to leave,” Stranger said. “I was having lunch at Mike & Anne’s nearby and this place had just put up the ‘For Lease’ sign the night before — I took the space that day. It was very serendipitous how I ended up here. I love being here in South Pasadena more than any day I was ever in La Cañada.”

Stranger’s daughter, who was in the third grade when she opened the new store, came up with the name Adobe Design, along with her best friend. The shop carries a wide assortment of unique items such as home decor, tableware, candles and soaps, South Pasadena-themed merchandise and jewelry. Many of the items have been picked up during Stranger’s travels, and she prides herself on offering inventory that shoppers won’t find anywhere else.

“I buy stuff from all over the world, including Morocco, Portugal, Holland, Belgium, Indonesia and France,” said Stranger, who is of Dutch-Indonesian heritage. “I was born and raised in Amsterdam before relocating to the South Bay area of Los Angeles. My most popular items are from my custom-designed jewelry line, Sannies Handmade Jewelry, which is my Dutch name. I offer a lot of grab-and-go items here, which make the shopping experience easy and enjoyable.”

With a background in design, Stranger has been creating all types of things since the age of 5. She used to work in interior design and was once the youngest fashion manager at Montgomery Ward. Prior to opening Adobe Design, Stranger owned a shop called The Best of Mexico, in Palos Verdes, that was inspired by her love for Mexican folk art and traditions. She also lived in Virginia at one time and owned another store, The Cottage, where she taught knitting, crocheting, macramé and decoupage classes.

After returning to Los Angeles and working in advertising for 13 years, Stranger eventually returned to the creative world and opened Adobe Design in La Cañada Flintridge. In addition to selling her ready-made jewelry pieces, Stranger works with customers to design custom items that accent their wardrobes using precious stones, and she also goes into people’s homes to help them decorate and accessorize.

“I’ve always gone from one creative pursuit to another,” Stranger said. “Because I’m a creative person, I always have to be making or designing something. I’ll be doing it for the rest of my life — I’ll never retire.”

Adobe Design is located at 1506 Mission St. in South Pasadena. It is open Tuesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and closed Sunday and Monday. For more information, call (626) 460-8745.

Adobe Design Spotlight appeared in the print edition of the South Pasadena Review on 1.3.2020. Support Local Business.

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Kamala Kirk is a contributing writer for the South Pasadena Review, San Marino Tribune and The Quarterly Magazine. Kamala formerly served as Managing Editor of Beauty Launchpad Magazine, West Coast Editor of American Salon Magazine, and Digital Editor for E! Online. A native of Hermosa Beach, California, she is a proud USC Trojan and pug mom to Wrigley the Pug (@pugofpasadena).