A partner to some of the most renowned designers of today, Baker unveiled its latest endeavor, The Selected Works of Tony Duquette, at an evening event at its Baker Knapp & Tubbs New York showroom, 200 Lexington, New York, on September 18, 2008. The 19-piece assortment of select reproductions by legendary designer, Tony Duquette, includes furniture, lighting, and accessories. The brilliant repertoire spans Duquette’s illustrious career, each piece individually handcrafted to expertly render his one-of-a-kind works of art.
Hutton Wilkinson, president of the Anthony and Elizabeth Duquette Foundation, and lifelong friend and associate of Duquette, worked closely with Baker in its choices, producing an exceptional best of class archival anthology. “We opened the entire archives to Baker’s creative team,” explained Wilkinson. “For the first collection, we chose pieces that spanned his career and clearly referenced the unique Duquette design aesthetic. However, the archives are deep and much has yet to be mined. We look forward to future collaborations.”
Capturing the eye of the connoisseur and the imagination of the novice, The Selected Works of Tony Duquette is free-spirited and unrestrained. There is a sense of playfulness, a glamour that intrigues and sensitivity to worldly resources that make the collection both of the moment and yet historically reverent, rare and collectable.
Duquette’s talent for taking common materials and turning them into extraordinary works of functional art is exemplified by the Sunburst Torchere, one of the pieces chosen by Baker for this compilation. Originally designed in 1949 to decorate and illuminate the drawing room at Dawnridge, Duquette’s private residence, the Sunburst Torchere has been faithfully reproduced by Baker to reflect all the beauty and imagination of the original. Standing a commanding 74 inches in height, the torchere features a sunburst medallion cast in bronze and finished in a clear coat of lacquer to protect its rich coloration. The medallion is backlit to provide soft, gentle light within a room, as well as to draw attention to the supporting, carved wood post hand-finished in silver leaf and the Italian-inspired wood base tightly wrapped in beige suede.
Duquette approached the world with a refreshingly fashionable disregard to comply with the norms of the day, adding to his mystique and solidifying his reputation as an artist and designer. Sought out by some of the most renowned celebrities and tastemakers of the 20th century, Duquette gained prominence and acclaim through a variety of creative channels wherein he was able to showcase his multi-disciplinary, artistic acumen.
The Elsie Tabouret, was inspired by one of these important relationships. Lady Elsie De Wolfe Mendel, the “First Lady of Interior Decoration,” and mentor to Tony Duquette, introduced Duquette into Hollywood society, personally commissioning significant pieces for her home to showcase his talent. It was through this recognition that Duquette rose to worldwide fame, establishing him as one of the leading designers of his time. This sophisticated tabouret was designed by De Wolfe and currently resides in Duquette’s studio. The Baker reproduction pays homage to this important association and friendship and remarks upon the sophisticated spirit of the woman behind Duquette’s early fame. The tabouret features a fairly straightforward cylinder shape crafted from solid wood and wrapped in Dacron to slightly pad the surface before completely upholstering the piece. The top is set with a single, centered button and the sides are decorated in a random button tufted pattern. The Elsie Tabouret is offered in Leopard Velvet or Zebra Velvet.
With success coming at such an early age, Duquette enjoyed a career that spanned over four decades. He presented his work at some of the most respected galleries and museums of the 20th century, including the Pavilion de Marsan in the Louvre, where he had the honor of being the first American to exhibit in a one-man show. Duquette was bestowed with the privilege of representing mid-20th century decorative arts. He selected a broad range of work to present, including jewelry, paintings, sculpture, and furniture designs. Baker now brings to life the Marsan Chair – one of the furniture works displayed at this unprecedented event – recreating it in exacting detail for the homes of today. Inspired by 18th century design, the chair sits low to the floor giving it a sculptural quality. The generous sized back and seat add to its commanding silhouette. The front and back are tightly upholstered and surrounded by a wood frame trimmed in nail head. A slightly crested seat cushion is similarly detailed in nail head trim and rests on an exposed wood base that terminates to cabriole legs. The chair is offered in Pearl and Coral Lacquer or Silver Gilt.
Duquette enjoyed private accolades for his interior, product and jewelry designs, including his jewelry collection for Tom Ford and Gucci in the 1980s. He also garnered national and international recognition through his set and costume design for top film and theater works, winning a Tony Award in costume designs for the critically acclaimed, Camelot.
The artisans at Baker have captured the essence of Duquette’s style and legacy in The Selected Works of Tony Duquette. The collection remarks on his individuality of spirit, his boundless imagination and his unparalleled life.
“We are excited and honored to introduce these authentic reproductions of original Tony Duquette designs,” said Rachel Kohler, group president – Kohler Interiors. “Each piece is truly a timeless work of art that represents the prolific career of one of America’s greatest design icons.”
Baker Knapp & Tubbs, Inc. includes Baker furniture, Baker Knapp & Tubbs Showrooms, and Baker Stores. Along with McGuire Furniture Company, Ann Sacks tile, stone and plumbing company, Kallista plumbing, and Mark David, it is part of the Kohler Interiors Group and wholly owned subsidiary of Kohler Co., a global leader in kitchen and bath designs.
Founded in 1873 and headquartered in Kohler, Wis., Kohler Co. is one of America’s oldest and largest privately held companies. Kohler is a global leader in the manufacture of kitchen and bath products, engines and power generation systems, cabinetry, tile and home interiors, and international host to award-winning hospitality and world-class golf destinations.
Alex has written for Vanity Fair, Barrons, Bloomberg and Condé Nast Traveler.