Akito Outdoor Sofas from Bullfrog

Sarsfield Brooke’s Donna Higginson on sentimental objects, guilty pleasures and what matters most

An early passion for travel, an eye for beautiful things and unparalleled work ethic led Donna Higginson to form the relationships with international design companies crucial to the founding of Sarsfield Brooke, which she established in 1998. The Auckland-based wholesale furniture importer is known for its high quality Italian and European pieces with impeccable attention to detail. Higginson found a moment to give some insight into her life, from sentimental objects to favourite indulgences.

The last thing I bought and loved was: Our fabulous Akito Outdoor Sofas from Bullfrog. They arrived just before lockdown, so they certainly took the edge off working from home.  It’s funny how this year has made people evaluate what is important. It doesn’t appear to be “things” but people and relationships that matter most — but it was lovely to think about while reclining on these beauties.

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An unforgettable place I visited was: How do I pick?  One place I went to that could never be the same was Minsk in White Russia (Belarus). We drove in a motorhome we shipped from the USA to Le Harve, France, and travelled through Europe and the Eastern Block to Minsk. Gorbachev was in power, but the country and the entire block was tipping toward significant change. It was incredible to witness some of their first steps away from communism.

Donna Higginson

Next place I’d like to go to: Somewhere warm where Covid is history!  

An object I would never part with is: Mum’s cookbook from her school days that she continued to write in as she was a young mum of four. I can see my sister writing in there when helping her and remember all the great smells coming from our kitchen on a Sunday when she baked for our school lunches and the week ahead. 

On my wish list is: A less hectic lifestyle.

The person that inspires me is: The incredible architect Frank Gehry.

An indulgence I would never forgo is: Arriving at the beach house every Friday night and dropping into a bubble bath with a cognac and a little Amy Winehouse.

If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city it would be: The fashion quadrangle in Milan.

Audrey Hepburn

My style icon is: Audrey Hepburn.

The best book I’ve read in the last year is: This year, puzzles have surpassed novels as my guilty pleasure.

I can’t miss an episode of: Dragons Den UK. 

In my fridge you’ll always find: Louis Roederer, loads of vegetables and Bircher muesli.

My favourite room in my house is: My bedroom — my bath is also in there.

The people I rely on for my wellbeing are: My lovely friends.

My favourite website is: Bloomingdales.com

A gadget I can’t do without is: My Apple Watch — I’ve got it all set up with all my health and fitness data, and I love being able you quickly reply to texts on it.

The one artist whose work I would collect is (if the price is not an issue): New Zealand sculptor Terry Stringer.

Azabu’s toastada. Photo: Jono Parker

The last meal out I had that truly impressed me was: Azabu in Ponsonby never fails to impress and the consistency of quality is admirable. 

The podcasts I listen to are: Ted Talks and Oprah

The beauty product I can’t live without is: My entire Dermalogica Skincare collection.

The last music I downloaded was: Tilted by French group Christine and the Queens. 

If I wasn’t doing what I am, I would be: A casting director.

I have a collection of: European ski passes from the 80s.


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