Bridges, Sheila 1964–
Sheila Bridges 1964–
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 magazine’s list of America’s Most Brilliant Decorators. She was also named America’s 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 things—to 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 Bloomingdale’s, a retail store.
After three years, she decided to change careers. While remaining at Bloomingdale’s, 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 one’s 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 York—the 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 today’s fabrics.”
Bridges has had her share of well-known clients. She was hired by former President Bill Clinton to decorate
Born on July 7, 1964, in Philadelphia, PA. Education: Brown University, 1986; Parsons School of Design.
Career: Bbomingdale’s; 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 Sean“P. Diddy” Combs, and former Motown Records president Andre Harrell.
Bridges has shifted her focus to include a larger audience, specifically first time furniture buyers—individuals 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 book’s title: “My philosophy is furnishing with the future in mind.” Bridges’s book offered useful ideas for individuals who enjoy decorating on their own, or are not able to hire a professional decorator.
Bridges’s 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 don’t 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, Bridges’s “dream is to make her design style a national commodity.”
Bridges’s 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 there’s something you’re passionate about, go after it.”
Furnishing Forward: A Practical Guide to Furnishing for a Lifetime, Little, Brown, and Company, 2002.
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.
Additional information for this profile was obtained from a biography provided by Sheila Bridges Design, Inc., August 2002.
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