Outdoor Furnishings That Are Stylish and High-Performance
Some might find it hard to make a name for themselves after a family member has seized the spotlight first. That has certainly not been the case for Sherri Donghia, whose cousin, Angelo Donghia—who died in 1985—was one of the most influential interior designers of the 20th century, with a client list that included Ralph Lauren, Neil Simon, Diana Ross, Barbara Walters, and yes, Donald and the first Mrs. Trump, Ivana. At his death, Angelo left behind the growing furniture and fabrics company Donghia.
Sherri Donghia, who had already built a sizable reputation of her own in the fashion industry, both at Bloomingdale’s—the New York department store—and, as an independent consultant, joined the firm in 1987, and for the next 20 years helped turn it into one of the most prestigious design companies in the world. Before her arrival at Donghia, she had worked only in fashion, but that profession led her to acquire a keen love of textiles, the division that she spearheaded at the firm.
One of her first jobs was to consult with Paul Costelloe, the Irish fashion designer, where she even learned to smell the fabric. (“They have an amazing aroma,” she explained.) Donghia left the company in 2007, after the business was acquired, but has stayed in the spotlight as an independent consultant, acting as chairperson of CAUS (Color Association of the United States), sitting on the boards of Jack Lenor Larsen’s LongHouse Reserve Foundation, in East Hampton, and the Rhode Island School of Design.
During her tenure at Donghia she had collaborated with Sunbrella, a privately held American company, to create the first luxury collection of outdoor fabrics, or “performance textiles” as they are referred to in the industry. She proudly emphasized that they were jacquards—woven designs—not surface prints. “It was so successful, we co-branded,” Donghia said. She sat back and watched as a host of copycats jumped into the market.