Jun 10, 2016

The Collected Home

written by Saxon Henry
Sotheby's Auction Duchess Devonshire
Bruce Andrews and Nate Berkus at LCDQ2016

Bruce and Nate: We enjoyed meeting Nate Berkus at #LCDLA, seen here with our CEO Bruce Andrews.

In early May, we winged our way to Los Angeles to take in the Legends 2016 event that unfolds within the La Cienega Design Quarter each spring. It was an opportunity to mingle with many a design star in a setting that encouraged everyone to be at their most relaxed. And though the vibe was chill, the programming was anything but—many of the panel discussions, such as “The Collected Home,” seriously inspiring us to dig deeper as we design new products in our ever-growing line of bespoke pieces.

The Collected Home panel at LCDQ2016

Nate Berkus presented the keynote, a discussion with Jane Hallworth, Robert Stilin and Tammy Connor.

 

The Collected Home

We highlight this particular discussion because it was one of our favorite panels. Nate Berkus, who was accompanied by Jane Hallworth, Robert Stilin and Tammy Connor on the stage, led the keynote, and many of the ideas they advanced were spot-on in our book. Advice ranged from intermingling blue and white in a collection; and mixing styles to form eclectic interiors, the examples as diverse as Bali meets England and France meets Greenwich. Underpinning the entire conversation was the caveat “live with things from around the world.”

Tammy Connor understands the collected home

The inimitable and classic style of Tammy Connor.

The above image from one of Tammy Connor’s projects proves she practices what she was preaching that day. “At least some of the time, reach for something old instead of always reaching for something new,” the panel told the audience. “Map out a narrative or make a journey of living. When undertaking the storytelling, wait and anticipate collecting the right things to create the right room, refusing to settle for ‘just anything.’ And patina is a good thing.”

 

Legendary Inspiration from LCDQ

Following Jane Hallworth’s comment, “Antiques are the soul of the house,” came one of the best tips during the event in our opinion: think about auction house catalogs as great resources for finding unique furnishings that will allow you to “live with things you love in a well curated home,” a move we often make when searching for unique interior elements. The advice has inspired us to share an example of décor we came across recently that was once owned by a connoisseur, our go-to source being Sotheby’s.

The Duchess of Devonshire had a collected home

Sotheby’s auctions off the collected home of Deborah, the Duchess of Devonshire.

We have a number of auction catalogs on our bookshelves, the thick publication announcing the sale of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ furnishings, also a Sotheby’s event, one of our all-time favorites. We revisit it from time to time to see which trends during that era are reappearing, and it is surprising the number of repetitions that emerge. We will share some of our gleanings here in a journal entry soon but today we concentrate on the sale of another style-setters belongings because the auction so recently took place.

We’re speaking of Deborah, the Duchess of Devonshire, whose possessions, which included many valuable antiques, were auctioned off in London this past March. Though we weren’t able to attend, the Sotheby’s site offers an extensive enough experience when searching the archives that we were able to feel as if we were there. In perusing the offerings, our belief that these events unveil much more than an inventory of “things” owned by a rich and famous person was affirmed. The glance into the life of this collector revealed the stories told through the things she painstakingly gathered around her.

 

A Connoisseur of Taste

The catalog of the collected home of the Duchess of Devonshire

The Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire auction catalog produced by Sotheby’s.

The furnishings and memorabilia amassed by this last remaining Mitford Sister ranged from upholstered Victorian furniture from the late 19th century to a postcard signed by Elvis Presley. She had a sizable collection of English School paintings and an array of decorative items as unusual as an Abbeydale bone china two-handled vessel dubbed “The Churchill Vase.”

“The Churchill Vase,” circa 1963-1965, owned by the Duchess of Devonshire

“The Churchill Vase,” circa 1963-1965, owned by the Duchess of Devonshire.

 

Among the most modern of her furnishings were light fixtures, such as the George III style star-form lanterns below. Seeing the range of the extensive offerings once owned by this arbiter of taste proves the panel’s point wholeheartedly: no interesting collection will ever be predictable.

Star lanterns owned by the Duchess of Devonshire

George III style star-form lanterns in patinated brass and glazed glass, owned by the Duchess of Devonshire.

Sotheby’s reports that the salesroom in London was packed with hundreds of collectors; that over 1,000 participants drove the sale total to £1,777,838, which is over three times the pre-sale estimate of £500,000 to £700,000.

The collected home of the Duchess of Devonshire included this Victorian sofa

A Victorian upholstered sofa from the late 19th century owned by the Duchess of Devonshire.

It is no surprise to us because she was an adored member of the British upper crust—the youngest of the Mitford Sisters, who was for half a century the chatelaine of Chatsworth House, one of England’s greatest stately homes. She was an instinctive entrepreneur, a patron of the arts, an author, a countrywoman and—interestingly enough—a great poultry enthusiast! This fascination is evident in many of the decorative items she purchased during her lifetime.

The Duchess of Devonshire collected Elvis Presley memorabilia

A postcard signed by Elvis Presley, circa 1957, owned by the Duchess of Devonshire.

The video below captures a wonderful snapshot of her personality, which includes her notion that she could not live surrounded by anyone else’s ideas of her home, which led her to decorate her last residence herself. This makes the Elvis Presley powder room in the dower house where she spent the last ten years of her life a serious surprise!

 

 

The dower house was the Old Vicarage, a charming 18th-century home in Edensor, a village on the Chatsworth estate. It was in serious disrepair when she moved into it and set about renovating it. As you can see in the video, it was a charming home by the time she had worked her magic.

A black and white photograph of the Mitford Family.

A black and white photograph of the Mitford Family.

Her friends included President Kennedy, Winston Churchill, Lucian Freud, Evelyn Waugh, Alan Bennett, members of The Royal Family, Hubert de Givenchy, Oscar de la Renta and the renowned photographer Cecil Beaton, who was an early guest at Chatsworth. He would capture on film the essence of the dazzling social circle surrounding her in a series of photographs now on view at the estate. Take a moment to flip through the slideshow the link leads to because it contains fabulous images of her pals Gary Cooper, Noel Coward and Lucian Freud.

The Duchess of Devonshire by Cecil Beaton

Cecil Beaton took this photograph of the Duchess of Devonshire.

The exhibition title, “Never a Bore,” pays homage to Cecil Beaton’s famous remark, “Perhaps the world’s second-worst crime is boredom; the first is being a bore.” We use this witticism to tip our hats to Legends 2016 for gathering such an interesting mix of brilliance together, as the stimulation the events brought us meant boredom was no where to be seen!

If you have a favorite auction catalog on your shelves, let us know about it so we look it up, would you? We’re always on the hunt for new inspiration here at Bruce Andrews Design.

This post, The Collected Home, © Bruce Andrews Design, all rights reserved. Our furniture is now available through Nandina Home in Aiken, SC; Jalan Jalan in Miami, FL; Travis & Company in ADAC in Atlanta; and the Ellouise Abbott showroom in Dallas, TX. We will soon be showing in the Ellouise Abbott showroom in Houston and in the Michael-Cleary showroom in Chicago, IL.