Hutton Wilkinson on the Late Tony Duquette
 

Hutton Wilkinson [pictured right]: Tony Duquette [left] was the first American to have a show at the Louvre in Paris. That 1951 show included lighting, furniture, jewelry, paintings and sculpture. He was chosen to represent the decorative arts of the middle of the 20th Century, which is interesting because Tony did Neo-Baroque. They didn’t ask Charles Eames or someone like that; they asked Tony.

How did he work? He always started with the height of the ceiling and a sketch. He may want a chandelier to hang 7 feet off the ground. Of course, he’d want to use the tiniest light bulbs he could lay his hands on. He was after the look of candlelight. Then he’d find some interesting materials — seashells, antlers, sometimes Lucite would get him going. He would try to find ways to get light into a room without using lamps or shades, just ambient lighting. He liked light coming up from the floor, like the light from a campfire. Back in the ‘40s, he had actually put votive lights up in some of his chandeliers.

Tony was not opposed to trad-itional crystal chandeliers where the crystal hangs down. But he wanted his creations to “explode.” He wanted the crystal to be shooting upwards and outwards like fireworks. Since he was also a jewelry designer, he thought he could design a brooch for a dress, but also blow it up many, many times so that it would become jewelry for a room.

We have a new collection with Remains Lighting. One chandelier, the Magic Forest Chandelier, is an archival piece that Tony did. There is a drawing of in it in my new book, “More Is More.” He used it in the [1952] MGM film “Lovely to Look At,” which had human candelabras come on the screen with Magic Forest torchieres.

I’ve wanted to work with Tony since I was in seventh grade. Nothing he did was alien to me. We were in sync mentally on everything. His aesthetics and mine are very much the same, so my continuation of his company is seamless. We continue to present lighting, fabrics, furniture and carpet with the same point of view: to bring magic into people’s work-a-day world. It’s food for hungry eyes. We are not interested in stark-like rooms, although Tony Duquette’s designs are all very simple. I guess the repetition of pattern makes them seem complicated.

Hutton Wilkinson is President of Tony Duquette Inc. and author of “More Is More” (Abrams Books), a second volume about Tony Duquette that delves into the creative process and personal life of the American designer renowned for his fantastical artwork, sculpture, jewelry, gardens, film sets and interiors. Wilkinson lives at Dawnridge, Duquette’s Beverly Hills, CA, estate. The photo by Fernando Bengoechea of the Wilkinson ranch in Malibu features two of Duquette’s original Sunburst chandeliers, one of several images showcased in the new book.

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