High Style Is What You Make It

Tony Duquette, John Pawson and Cy Twombly - Disparate Yet Comparable


DeBeistegui Paris apartment


There once was a trinity of high style, Le Corbusier, Emilio Terry and Charles De Beistegui, who created one of the most unusual and surreal collaborations in design history with the Parisian apartment for De Beistegui.

I ask how would anyone top that today?  Or why would anyone even attempt to?  That being said, it is one of the great moments in the annals of decorative arts.  The melding of the flamboyant taste of De Beistegui with the stark, sculptural architecture of Le Corbusier, and the whimsically garish furnishings designed by Emilio Terry all explode onto the serene and stately 8th arrondissement of Paris.   It must have been viewed as shocking at the time.

Well, I would like to offer a hypothetical trio of design dynamos for your consideration.  Let’s consider Tony Duquette, famed decorator and jewelry designer, John Pawson, renowned British minimalist architect, and Cy Twombly, modern painter of romantic symbolism.  How in the world would we equate these three in the realm of a collaboration?  Well let’s really look at the common threads, if any, that may exist between them.

Tony Duquette was a darling of LA and lived and worked in a copious time.  First in the film industry and then moving to private commissions to decorate, he associated with the créme de la créme in the arts and society.


Tony Duquette designed interiors, circa 1950’s, for friend and client Cobina Wright, a columnist for Hearst.

In the above image, we see some of his signature designs being showcased.  In particular the snowflake folding screen is one of the pieces that became a trademark and is still available to purchase.  There is a wonderful limited line of furniture available through Baker Furniture and lighting through Remains Lighting.  Also, the figural lamps, tables, and the trophy of musical instruments were all to become synonymous with his style.  This early project of his is one of my favorites. Duquette’s raison d’être was to embrace an allegorical world resplendent in fantasy.


John Pawson, the British minimalist architect, is world-renowned for his white, stark, monastic work.  He defines his work through his personal perceptions of life and how to live it efficiently.  There is no place for gratuity or frivolity.  His buildings are stately and have immense order.  I can honestly say that I view him as a high classicist.  Many may argue that point with me and, in fact, I would welcome it.


Pawson’s design aesthetic may not cater to most, but it surely can be perceived by most to be a complete entity from start to finish.  I personally could live in one of his homes but would need to make my personal footprint just as pronounced as his.  I buy into the extension of his architectural principles onto the furnishings.  If you do as well, you could avail yourself of some of his designs through Matin Gallery featuring contemporary art, design, and hand-built furniture.  His designs for homewares are available through fitzu.com and stylepark.com.


Cy Twombly, an American painter, lived in Rome and created one of the most celebrated bodies of artistic works.  He became known for his large-scale scribbled, graffitti-esque paintings.  He lived the life of a true bohemian but in a grand style and scale.  His home is evidence of that fact.  His paintings were strewn among his collections of antique furniture and classical antiquities.  Three worlds of culture and art co-existing under one roof.  The art of collecting was his panacea to a mythical world infused with symbolism.  You can view more of his works by visiting the Menil Collection here.

3_ cy twombly rome horst vogue

To partake in the true classical experience, there are two antique dealers who can outfit any enthusiast’s home with historical reference.  John J. Gredler Works of Art and Royal Athena Galleries both offer some of the best in Italian antique furniture, accessories, and prized antiquities from classical times, respectfully.  Find an abstract artist to finish the equation and you have a triple play.


So then, what do you conclude about this unseemly trio and how they would collaborate?  Well, your guess is as good as mine.  Let’s get those creative juices flowing.

It’s all about what you make it.

Written by Carl Lana