Venus Williams’ and Wolf-Gordon’s New Textile Collection Celebrates Women

Muse is an upholstery collection that represents the first foray into product design from the firm founded by the tennis pro. 

Perhaps it’s forgivable that Venus Williams’ career as an interior designer has been overshadowed by her other accomplishments. With 90 Grand Slam appearances and countless titles, it may surprise some to learn that the former number-one tennis player is also a star designer.  

Her firm, V Starr, has been designing high end residential interiors in South Florida for 20 years, and recently has expanded to include a broader portfolio of hospitality and multifamily projects. Despite their rising stature, they’ve never designed a product collection—until now. When the opportunity to collaborate with textile manufacturer Wolf-Gordon arose, Williams, who serves as the firm’s CEO, couldn’t have been more excited to take on the project. “I have a natural love for textiles, right down to the thread,” she says.  

That love for fabric is present in the collection, which is defined by a matelassé effect created by stitching the pattern into multiple layers of fabric sandwiched together. To develop the three patterns, Williams and V Starr principal Sonya Haffey developed ideas, produced sketches, and sent them to Wolf-Gordon to be digitized and produced in a high-performance polyester-and-nylon blend that contains post-consumer recycled material and is suitable for many different applications.  

Venus Williams and Sonya Haffey inspect fabric samples
Venus Williams, V Starr CEO, (right) and Sonya Haffey, V Starr principal, (left) inspect samples of Muse, the fabric collection they designed for Wolf-Gordon.

“[Textile art] has been around forever and no matter where you go in the world, people have their own special, unique way of creating patterns and colors. It’s always fascinating for me, as I travel, to see what is happening in [any given] part of the world. Then, of course, I like to play with it myself at home,” says Williams who is an avid weaver. 

The collection’s three patterns: Elena, Frida, and Ora are each named for women that the V Starr team admires. Elena features a stylized feminine form and is intended to be a celebration of women around the world. Williams explains that the design is rooted in an idea of a “universal woman,” saying, “We wanted to create a sort of abstract woman who was contemporary but, at the same time, primal; you can’t identify who she is or where she’s from,” explains Williams.  

Haffey recalls that Frida is an almost exact reproduction of her own sketch that was inspired by unravelling threads. Ora, meanwhile, calls to mind the double-helix structure of DNA as well as flowing water.  

two pillows made from Ora fabric
Ora’s design calls to mind the double-helix of DNA strands.
a chair made of the Elena fabric
Elena is based on the motif of a “universal woman.”
an ottoman made from the Friday fabric
Frida is a more subtle pattern, inspired by unravelling threads.

When it came time to select colors for the collection, she drew on her experience as an interior designer, asking her colleagues at V Starr what colors they wanted to use but were unable to find. “It’s not easy to find the perfect green or the perfect yellow and the perfect pink. We wanted to provide this array of colors to make it easy for folks to be able to use every color for every need,” Williams says.  

Marybeth Shaw, chief creative officer of marketing and design at Wolf-Gordon, is pleased with their choices. “It’s a cohesive color line that holds together nicely, and there’s an organic quality of each of the three patterns,” she says, adding that the collection “hits a note of optimism at a time when we are all desperate for one.” 

For her, the experience of working with V Starr was an opportunity to flip her company’s script when it comes to design talent. While Wolf-Gordon is known for partnering with European designers and introducing them to American audiences, Venus Williams is a household name for many Americans, but she’s not as well-known as a designer. Perhaps that is about to change.  

fabric samples in many colors
Making the collection available in a number of hard-to-find colors was important to the V Starr team.

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