Ann Gish & The Art of Home has announced the death of the company’s founder, Ann Gish Phillips. Her daughter Jane Gish will assume the position of CEO, with CFO David Phillips and National Sales Manager Derrick Ricketts continuing in their respective roles.
Jane shared, “Ann had been dealing with a lung cancer diagnosis very privately for a little over two years, and her disease had been very stable for some time – until several weeks ago. Her passing came sooner and far more quickly than we all expected, but she passed without pain or fear, and with bravery.”
“After her diagnosis in May 2017, she had continued to work because she loved what she did – she still felt she had so much to design, to make, to create. We still have several years of designs she had planned for future collections – she was truly prolific. We also have had the luxury of being able to plan for a secure, organized business transition – and now we know what to do.”
Patricia Holley, who had worked with Ann over many years and recently began collaborating with Ann on designs, will continue in that role. “Ann was a mentor and an inspiration to me in so many ways. Her talent was innate and exceptional, as was her entrepreneurial vision. Everything she created was beautiful, elegant, unique and special. As a friend, she was always direct, honest and would say exactly what she thought; and it always made me laugh.”
Many of her connections in the design world became true friends. Josh Jarboe, VP of Sales at Four Hands, said, "Ann approached life and design fearlessly. She continually explored new expressions of beauty, luxury, and comfort through her work. Ann approached cancer with the same fearlessness. Her resolve was rock solid, and her strong belief in her ability to overcome kept her buoyant and optimistic throughout her treatments. Her keen sense of humor, her clarity amid chaos, and her courageous spirit were never tamped down. Up until the very end, Ann was Ann."
David Gebhart, CEO of Global Views, which licensed & launched Ann’s first collections of furniture designs, recalls, “Ann truly saw things differently than most designers. She always was the most creative person in the room when it came to soft goods designs, but she shocked me by coming up with totally unique materials and ways to make important pieces of furniture too. Combining materials that most people had not yet thought to combine she created two iconic furniture collections with my company.
"We were both so proud of what we achieved together, but I can tell you – none of it would have happened if Ann had not come up to me directly and said 'I’ve got a great bed I want you to make for me.' And it didn’t stop with just a bed. Along came the next idea, and the next idea and the next idea. She was prolific beyond words. She even built Styrofoam models of furniture items she wanted to 'pitch' to me to help her get made – just to make sure her proportions and dimensions were good. She even attempted to sit in a Styrofoam model chair at some point, and I think she must have crashed through it, but she swore to me ‘it was a very, very comfortable chair – before my butt caused it to collapse.’”
Jane continued, “I just loved working with my mom. Part of our desire to continue the company is to both honor her legacy and connect with a big part of who she was. We have an incredible team in place with David, Derrick, Patricia, Rebecca [Morhaim] and our sales reps. I know she would be proud of what we will accomplish.”
David Phillips shared, “I have lived and worked with Ann for a week short of 21 years. I would repeat every single minute if I could. We have grown and navigated the business together through many changes and countries, a few mistakes and thousands of wonderful experiences. The business is stronger today than ever with new company-owned headquarters in West Springfield, MA. I eagerly look forward to my new partnership with Jane and the team but will miss Ann with all my heart.”
Ann is survived by her husband David; children Noah, Theo, Jane; stepchildren Ben and Chiara; daughter-in-law Natalie; son-in-law Kris; six grandchildren, and sisters Ilene, Geraldine, and Deborah. Should anyone wish to send a card, please mail to Ann Gish Inc., 857 Elm Street, West Springfield, MA 01089. Donations can be made to City Harvest or Smile Train.