Thursday, July 9, 2009

Magical Interiors By Tony Duquette

'If I could trade places with anyone for a day, it would be the dashing Tony Duquette' - John Galliano

Costume and set designer and interiors genius Tony Duquette died in 1999, and he's one of design's best kept secrets. I think of him as a kind of Walt Disney of design. Actually, he has a kindred spirit in all of the arts - it's weird how quickly I can pinpoint them and how right it feels.

In Literature Tolkien is Duquette-esque, because he's able to construct whole imagined universes from scratch and make them feel real. In music Michael Jackson has the Duquette quality because he's fantastical and because he gets away with being over the top. You might have a split second where you'll recoil at how *tacky* or *maudlin* this all is, but there are other qualities - the great craftsmanship, the sheer force and boldness and inventiveness - that melt you. You just can't ignore him. Design has a Duquette in John Galliano himself, for obvious reasons: the vibrant colours, the mish-mashed textures, the soaring inventiveness and the showmanship.

Duquette's main room in his famous studios.

An eastern motif in pastel colours.

The orient seen through a Hello Kitty lens.

Table with chunky, Dali-esque 'legs'.

A winter ball in Los Angeles decorated with crystal snowflakes
and silver lame by Tony Duquette.

Duquette interior with his signature animal print tablecloth.

'It's interesting because Tony is probably more honest as a creator of spaces than many people because it's about the heartfelt desire to create what he perceives as a beautiful space.

Through his interiors he was able to give people the feeling they had been there for a long time, that they were very important, that they were very glamorous.

I look at decorative Tony Duquette work, its baroque roots, and it's very much about people. His interiors were about trying to create an environment where people feel they've been there forever. It is creating a false aristocratic history, a fantasy, a type of magical festival, it's a bit like Louis XIV - the fountains, the amazing sculptures, and the belief that you can make something out of nothing. It was just entirely out of his imagination.'
Designer Catherine Martin.

The part about 'false aristocratic history' is spot on. There's that grandeur and self-importance (in a good way) and - I've noticed - nods to stuffy upper class traditions from all cultures! Like in this shot above: you have intricate beaded pillows and expansive couches, all you need is a veiled Egyptian princess to languish on them. BUT on the walls are murals straight out of a Baroque Polish castle so you know, maybe the princess has shacked up with Sobieski's daughter.

Interior complete with very unusual wall feature constructed from scratch.

Wouldn't it be wonderful to have the *sense* of aristocratic history in one's home without actually having the dubious family legacies, like slave ownership, colonialist expeditions,
whoring, stuffy, penny-pinching ancestors, deaths from cholera and connections
to powerful religious zealots?

Cream and red walls with the ever-present baroque influence.

Duquette's own toilet!!

This reminds me of so many things at once: a place in an Indian Jones movie where he stays around the middle of the expedition, after he enters the orient but just before all the action scenes; a stage set from The King and I, and... Christmas! There is a Christmassey feeling to much of Duquette's work. It's the lights, sparkles and ornamentation.

Mrs Duquette's dressing room cabinet - a nineteenth century piece lined in blue felt and decorated with her collection of precious jewels.

Duquette called his wife Elizabeth 'Beegle' because she had 'the industry of the bee and the soaring poetry of the eagle'. There were also times when he called her 'Beegle jewel fiend'!



Christina said...

Great innovative ideas! I loved the pictures too.

FAPORT International said...

Very nice pictures!!

Mandy said...

Dear sir/Madam:
Saving your presence,my name is Mandy and I am a Development Manager of a trading company selling clothing,bags,shoes,etc.
We found your website from google and we thought your website was really good and it is really suitable for our products.
Would you like us to have text link in your website as our promotion?
And how about the price?
I am sorry for bothering you.
And my email address is
Look forward to hear from you soon.
Wish you a happy time.
Many thanks,