Angelo Donghia

The Elements of Style

“You should feel at all times that what is around you is attractive . . . and that you are attractive.”

If you know about Angelo Donghia, then you know he was America’s original superstar designer and multi-hyphenate. Encouraged by his father to start designing for his tailor shop at a young, Donghia built a true legacy and a versatile career all before the age of 50, when he tragically passed away from AIDS.

Donghia’s first major hit was in 1966 designing the Opera Club for the Metropolitan Opera House

at Lincoln Center. It has silver foil ceilings, blue chandeliers and black upholstery. He had a glamorous take on minimalism with luxurious surfaces and lots of texture, two things that ended up defining his career and iconic look.

“I’m going to be an interior designer, it doesn’t mean that I should die being an interior designer. I’d like to write a book. I’d like to do a movie. I’d like to do everything.”

Amen to that philosophy.

In 1968 Donghia launched a collection of fabrics and wallcoverings, which is still an important source today, the incredible Donghia Textiles. He was the first American decorator to put his name on a mass-produced line of sheets for JP Stevens and his empire of textiles, furniture and licensing deals is worth over $60 million.

Donghia’s style was minimal, based in 30’s glamour with a love of white. His trademarks included the use of silver gray, often through gray flannel, an attention to ceilings and “fat” furniture which we are starting to see again after a plethora of mid century small apartment proportions.

Interesting little fact, his most iconic sectional sofa designed for Ralph Lauren’s apartment in the early 80’s is still the number one selling collection at the studio. Style is never out of fashion.

The quintessential touches like suede walls in his master bedroom design below and the evocative lush glamour of his interiors is very 70’s and 80’s New York.

Needless to say Halston, Diana Ross  Barbara Walters, Mary, Liza Minelli, Grace Mirabella were amongst his residential clientele. I mean, c’mon who wouldn’t kill for a client list like that.

I wish he was still here today, I am sure he would have incredible stories to tell. The AIDS memorial on Instagram recently wrote a post on Angelo which is the reason I wrote this post today. I can only imagine what he would have gone on to inspire us with.