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Bridges, Sheila 1964–

Sheila Bridges 1964

Interior designer

At a Glance

Selected writings

Sources

Sheila Bridges is co-founder, president, and CEO of one of the most successful interior design firms in the country. As an entrepreneur, she opened Sheila Bridges Design, Inc. in 1994, which has grown into a $1.5 million company. Bridges is among House Beautiful magazines list of Americas Most Brilliant Decorators. She was also named Americas Best Designer, by Time magazine and CNN in 2001. In addition, she is the author of Furnishing Forward: A Practical Guide to Furnishing for a Lifetime, published in May of 2002.

Bridges was born on July 7, 1964, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She is the daughter of a dentist and a teacher. She earned her sociology degree from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1986. Bridges had decided on two thingsto live in New York and to work in advertising. She did move to New York; however, her intention to be an account executive at Ogilvie & Mather, an advertising firm, did not work out. She was unable to land that job or any other advertising position. She then underwent additional training as a buyer for Bloomingdales, a retail store.

After three years, she decided to change careers. While remaining at Bloomingdales, she attended Parsons School of Design in New York City, where she earned a degree in interior design. Bridges also traveled to Florence, Italy, where she studied Italian art. Bridges began working for an architectural firm during the day and completed her degree at night and on weekends.

Prior to opening her own interior design business, Bridges was employed by Shelton, Mindel, and Associates and Renny B. Saltzman Interiors, Inc. Both firms engaged in residential and commercial projects. Bridges decided she wanted to launch her own interior design business. In a biography provided by Sheila Bridges Design, Inc., it was noted of Bridges that her primary motivations to launching her own company was a desire to provide resources and design services to African-Americans. Her goal is to introduce a generation of clients to the value of good design and the importance of interior environments that reflect ones own cultural history.

In 1993 Bridges moved into a landmark apartment building in Harlem, New York, where her interior design ability was put to the test. This was where she would utilize everything that she had learned and create her own living space. In addition, one of the spacious seven rooms had been designated as her home office. Since that time, her apartment has been featured in several magazines.

She opened Sheila Bridges Design, Inc. in 1994. Then in 1999 she opened Sheila Bridges Home-Antiques store, in Hudson, New Yorkthe store has since closed. Her success in the interior design industry is a result of her approach. In an interview with USA Weekend, Bridges said, in reference to her decorating technique, The spaces I design should represent who my clients are or aspire to be, not who I am or aspire to be. The New York Times noted that Bridges recommends striking a balance between old and new, upholstering antiques in todays fabrics.

Bridges has had her share of well-known clients. She was hired by former President Bill Clinton to decorate

At a Glance

Born on July 7, 1964, in Philadelphia, PA. Education: Brown University, 1986; Parsons School of Design.

Career: Bbomingdales; Shelton, Mindel, and Associates, interior designer; Renny B. Saltzman Interiors, Inc., interior designer; Sheila Bridges Design Inc., president and CEO, 1994; author, Furnishing Forward: A Practical Guide to Furnishing for a Lifetime, 2002.

Address: Office Sheila Bridges Design Inc., 1925 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd, Apt. 8M, New York, NY 10026.

his 8,300 square foot New York offices in 2001. Some other famous clients include author Tom Clancy, computer software giant Peter Norton, rapper SeanP. Diddy Combs, and former Motown Records president Andre Harrell.

Bridges has shifted her focus to include a larger audience, specifically first time furniture buyersindividuals in their twenties and thirties. In her book, Furnishing Forward: A Practical Guide to Furnishing for a Lifetime (2002), Bridges offers practical advice on how to purchase furniture that will be with them for years to come. In an interview with Barbra Kurgon, of Homestyle magazine, Bridges explained the books title: My philosophy is furnishing with the future in mind. Bridgess book offered useful ideas for individuals who enjoy decorating on their own, or are not able to hire a professional decorator.

Bridgess diversified goals have prompted comparison to Martha Stewart. Indeed, Bridges has often been called the black Martha Stewart. However, Bridges does not agree with such a comparison. For example, as she explained to Catherine McGrady of USA Weekend, I dont want to show people how to make a lampshade or sew their own drapes. What Bridges does instead is offer people practical suggestions on how and where to find a lampshade that will perfectly suit their decor.

In the fall of 2002, Bridges was expected to make her television debut on the Fine Living Network. Her program, Designer Living, would enable her to share her decorating knowledge and expertise on a personal, as well as national level. According to CNN, Bridgess dream is to make her design style a national commodity.

Bridgess long-term goals include licensing her designs and creating a brand that will be available nation-wide. Some products that she would like to market are furniture, rugs, bedding, and her own line of paint. In an interview with Betsy Peoples, of Emerge magazine, Bridges shared some inspiration for others: Sometimes we get caught up in careers and never take the opportunity to stop and start over. If theres something youre passionate about, go after it.

Selected writings

Furnishing Forward: A Practical Guide to Furnishing for a Lifetime, Little, Brown, and Company, 2002.

Sources

Periodicals

House Beautiful, August 2002, p.98.

The New York Metro Times, June 28, 2001.

The New York Times, January 17, 2002, p. F7.

Time, October 16, 2000, p.32.

On-line

http://cnn.com

http://www.fineliving.com

http://www.newschool.edu

http://www.sheilabridges.com

http://www.sheilabridges.com/index.cgi?token=10271019377&page=presemerge.htm

http://www.twbookmark.com

Other

Additional information for this profile was obtained from a biography provided by Sheila Bridges Design, Inc., August 2002.

Brenda Kubiac

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