David Sutherland, Founder
A napkin sketch over a few martinis really can lead to something wonderful. Witness the collaboration between David Sutherland and internationally acclaimed furniture designer John Hutton.
Sutherland began his career in the furniture business in 1977 with a showroom in Houston. In 1991, he conceived of outdoor “rooms” as a continuum of a designer’s contract with their clients to bring about a more complete indoor/outdoor aesthetic to their projects. To create comfort, style and quality for these “new environs,” Sutherland turned to John Hutton, the design genius behind Randolph & Hein and Donghia Furniture, two of interior design’s best-known firms.
The results of their collaboration revolutionized the outdoor furniture industry. John’s designs, combined with David’s exquisite attention to production quality, assured designers and architects that their outdoor projects not only would be beautiful, but beautiful for a lifetime. The first collection of 34 pieces was introduced in the San Francisco market in 1994 and immediately hailed as a game changer.
John Hutton died in 2006, but his legacy of design integrity lives on. Sutherland furniture is now designed by the world’s most distinguished designers, including Terry Hunziker, Nick Berman, Gennaro Rosetti, Philippe Hurel, Rose Tarlow, and Philippe Starck. “We rely on different designers at different times to keep the enthusiasm going,” said David.
“I’m proud that Sutherland is known for crafting ‘livable art.’”
When David Sutherland began to reimagine luxury outdoor furnishings, he went in search of high-style textiles and found a creative ally in his wife. Ann had never planned to leave her successful interior design business to head a textile manufacturing firm. But her design sense, combined with her drive to ensure that the fabrics would maintain their beauty under all conditions, led to the founding of Perennials Fabrics in 1997.
“Initially, my fabric knowledge extended only to textiles for the interiors,” Ann said. “I quickly realized that performance textiles were a completely new arena and my learning curve was sharp and intense.”
To control quality, Perennials developed its own soft, solution-dyed acrylic yarns and the original collection featured dobby weaves in eight colorways. Today there are more than 800 SKUs and Perennials is the leader in the manufacture of high-performance fabrics for commercial, residential and hospitality projects.
Ann works closely with her husband, leading the fabric side, while David leads the furniture side. She cherishes the memory of her collaboration with design master John Hutton, who created some of her earliest patterns for Perennials. While maintaining an impressive staff of in-house designers, Ann also works with well-known industry icons such as Galbraith and Paul, Clodagh and Rose Tarlow.
Ann maintains her focus on what is most important to her. “I love to sit and dream under the stars,” she said. “I’m pleased that I have helped create something that allows people to better enjoy nature.”