Thursday, January 30, 2014

More is More Tony Duquette: Hutton Wilkinson

I thought that I'd end Book Review Month with a beautiful book that is, in and of itself, an interior design master class. More is More Tony Duquette by Hutton Wilkinson is one of two books written by Wilkinson celebrating the style and class of Tony Duquette.

Before we get into the book, I think it's best to do a little history essay on Duquette himself. Tony Duquette was an American designer for film, stage, and many homes of his own and clients. Tony was immensely talented for creating spaces - intimate sanctuary - and he spent most of his post-college working years creating vignettes for fashion designers. It wasn't until Duquette was discovered by socialite Elsie de Wolfe, that he became vastly recognized for his talents in creating a home.

Elsie de Wolfe, also known as Lady Mendyl, was a stoic figure of high-society in New York, Paris, and London. It has been said that Elsie de Wolfe started the profession that is interior design. Her clients included Anne Vanderbilt, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and Henry Clay Frick. Hutton, being the president of the Elsie de Wolfe foundation has also written a revised edition of her book, The House in Good Taste (linked below).

Elsie de Wolfe (center) and a young Tony Duquette

Through Elsie's patronage and broad connections, Tony Duquette became the name that we all know today.
Creator of movie, theatre, and ballet sets, interior designer and decorator, jeweler, and sculptor, Duquette excelled in many arts and with his long-time collaborator Hutton Wilkinson still lives through a host of collections still made and marketed under the Duquette name.

More is More, the companion to Tony Duquette, also published by powerhouse Abrams Books, is Hutton Wilkinson's explanation of Duquette's design philosophy, his favorite pieces to create with which he used consistently, and never before seen illustrations and photos from the Duquette archives. Every single page is a feast for the eyes, an "enchanted spell", an endearing glimpse into the vastly talented, and inimitable Tony Duquette.

More is More includes two of Duquette's private residences: the legendary Dawnridge, located in Beverly Hills, and his ranch in Malibu. First, we'll take a peak into the walls of the Dawnridge compound, still used as the hub of the Tony Duquette brand, and also the home of Wilkinson and wife, Ruth.

When Hutton and wife Ruth bought Dawnridge after Duquette's death in 1999, they did a little re-freshening of the spaces. Above, the drawing room at Dawnridge during Tony and Beegle's tenure there. 

Much of the architecture and design elements stayed exactly the same, which is why I say they were merely refreshed. A rather small house, especially given its Beverly Hills location, Hutton and Ruth needed a larger home for themselves. Leaving the property like this, (you can see more photos of it here), Hutton and Ruth began building a new house adjacent to the property. They continue to use the original Dawnridge for lavish parties as Duquette was fond of hosting.

And while this is a deviation from the book, I had to show you the new house that Hutton and wife Ruth finished adjacent to Dawnridge. In the aerial map above, you can see the house under construction. Notice those large 2-story doors in the center of the stucco structure ...

Well, they open up fully into the lushly planted pool area. Once the house was finished, Veranda covered it

You can see all of the photos from the Veranda photoshoot here

Clearly, as Duquette's protege and collaborator, you can see a very similar look to what we know of the original Tony Duquette. I think it's safe to say, if Duquette had designed a home today, it would look like this.

More is More also covers Duquette's Malibu ranch and its many out buildings and structures.

Situated on more than 150-acres, the Duquette's called their Malibu getaway "The Empire" and spent nearly every weekend there creating 21 structures. In the 1990's however, the entire "empire" burned to the ground in the tragic green meadows Malibu fire that devastated much of the Malibu landscape.

After the fire, the many acres of the ranch were parceled and sold. Hutton Wilkinson acquired a portion of the land and the home built there was recently on the market for $4.8M here. In addition to homes, More is More showcases photos of the life that Tony lived with his wife and their many influential friends, and his jewelry and sculpture.

Greta Garbo, with Tony and wife Beegle, and Gayelord Hauser

The book will take you weeks to finish, filled with such beautiful photos, and the lengthy and rich history of Duquette, his wife "Beegle", and the design house that Duquette created with Wilkinson. There is so much to learn, see, and experience in the pages of this book - that you will be excited, invigorated, inspired, and perhaps, a little better suited to tackle that next interior design project with a host of new ideas - ala Tony Duquette. 

I highly recommend this book to those of you who love the "More is More" aesthetic, who enjoy diving into a deep history of a designer, and who use your interior design books for reference as well as inspiration. Reading More is More was an experience I thoroughly enjoyed, and I know you will to!