When we decided to invite our very first guest to join us on Behind the Design, there was no one more fitting for the debut than Danielle Rollins! Not only is Danielle an internationally acclaimed interior designer, tastemaker, author, influencer, and clothing designer, but she is also the most delightful person and a dear friend to so many in the design community.
We met Danielle many years ago when we were asked to host her on a book tour in Houston and became fast friends. With industry events canceled due to the pandemic, it seems we’ve all been missing the company of our friends but we are excited to be making a return to travel and look forward to seeing everyone in person very soon. For now, we thought hosting a virtual chat with Danielle would be a fantastic way to catch up with one of the most gracious women in design. Enjoy!
Sarah and Sandy: From interiors and attire to entertaining and now a collection of fine jewelry, your approach to style is all-encompassing. Can you share a little bit about where this journey began and the people who influenced your keen eye for classic style?
Danielle Rollins: My maternal grandmother was undoubtedly someone who had a significant impact in forming my sense of style. She was an incredibly stylish and exuberant woman who had that certain je ne sais quoi about her. She really afforded me a proper introduction into the realm of fashion and design, which quickly became a love for the work of Billy Baldwin, Albert Hadley, Diana Vreeland, David Hicks, Oscar de la Renta, and Jacques Grange just to name a few.
S & S: We adore your fearless use of pattern and color and how every moment you create possesses an exquisite little element of surprise. How do you approach the design of glamorous, memorable interiors that are also practical for everyday living?
Danielle: The most essential aspect of designing a room is understanding how the space is to be utilized. Once the specific function is determined, all other choices will organically fall into place. Good interior design is creating spaces to be lived in. There are numerous ways one can gear design choices to withstand the wear and tear of everyday life and one of my favorite tricks is to laminate fabric – it is great for children or pets because the fabric essentially becomes indestructible without compromising the style.
S&S:Your clothing collection has been dubbed “hostess-ready” and it’s an elegant showcase of effortless all-American style. What inspired you to expand into fashion and how does designing a clothing collection mimic or differ from designing interiors?
Danielle: Everything is connected in one way or another. Classic pieces and furnishings with a contemporary twist are an integral part of my designs, regardless of the medium in which I am working. I think of interiors as the backdrop to a functional, beautiful life and clothing is a self-expression tool that complements this environment.
Just like interiors, clothes must be functional and beautiful. Because of this, it was truly a natural progression for me to expand into fashion. They differ in that a clothing designer must take into account the movement of the body and how clothes drape and flow with this movement. I tend to use exquisite textiles like silk that reflects light and ripples as the body moves.
S&S: A Home For All Seasons and Soiree: Entertaining With Style are two of our very favorite books! If you could break stylish entertaining down to 3 essential tips for our readers, what would they be?
Danielle: Above all, it is the attention to details. Whether it be the small bowl of mixed nuts on a coffee table, tapered candles on the buffet, fresh flowers in the powder room, or a thoughtfully curated bar equipped with linen cocktail napkins and silver sticks. Guests will notice the difference and see the extra effort put forth by the hostess.
Be ever so gracious, stick to the basics, plan ahead, and know your strong suits. For example, if you are a fabulous cook play into that and create a gorgeous buffet for guests. If you are challenged in the kitchen or have no time to arrange a thoughtful and well-appointed garden cocktail party with all the necessary accoutrements, there is never any shame in purchasing prepared foods or having a meal catered as long as the food is of excellent quality. Go the extra mile with the details: fresh flowers, candlelight, music, and a well-appointed bar are key elements to every successful soiree.
S&S: Let’s talk about your latest debut – The Ocean Reef Collection by Judith Ripka! With nautical-inspired pieces suitable for special occasions and everyday wear, the collection feels polished yet playful and fun. What inspired your designs and how do they reflect your own personal sense of style?
Danielle: Like in fashion or interior design, I draw inspiration from almost anything and everything. While designing the collection for Judith Ripka I was also in the middle of completely refitting and designing the interiors of an 85’ motor yacht, so you might say one project influenced the other.
S&S: Now that the world is opening back up, what are you most excited about getting back to and are there any practices or habits you look forward to preserving from your months spent at home throughout quarantine?
Danielle: Above all I am most excited about being able to start entertaining again. One of my favorite things is having a full house, so quarantine was a big adjustment, to say the least. Traveling is also something I am really looking forward to. When the world shut down, I had to postpone a few trips which I am now very excited about revisiting.
S&S: Last but not least, are there any new books or exciting projects on the horizon that you can share?
Danielle: The interior design business is busier than ever! I’m in the process of trying to juggle 5 – 6 projects in Palm Beach, one in New Jersey and I am finishing up an apartment in New York. We also have numerous book signings and speaking engagements planned for my book, A Home for All Seasons, as well as trunk shows for the clothing line.
S&S: Needless to say, it sounds like quite a busy year for you and we can’t wait to add those dates to our calendars once released!
We are incredibly grateful that Danielle shared her time with us today and hope you feel every bit as inspired and uplifted as we do. Don’t forget to pick up a copy of A Home for All Seasons and Soiree: Entertaining with Style and be prepared for guests to rave about your dinner parties for years to come!
“The essence of a gathering doesn’t just happen; it is planned and created with loving effort.” – Danielle Rollins