Memory of Malibu
Susan Brandabur -- Interior Design, 9/1/2004 12:00:00 AM
At a moment when wallpapering a room can seem a daring act of design, the exuberantly ornamental interiors of Tony Duquette look truly revolutionary. The 1997 Interior Design Hall of Fame inductee was like an Australian bowerbird, stealing shiny coins, spoons, and bits of aluminum foil to adorn its nest. After filling his Los Angeles studio with fine French furniture, for instance, he once covered the ceiling with grapefruit packing cases. However, the magic-lantern effects were grounded in a refined sensibility and a calming sense of spatial proportion.
Mentored early on by Elsie de Wolfe and William Haines, Duquette soon established his own network of Hollywood clients. He successfully designed movie sets (for directors such as Vincente Minelli), spectacular jewelry (a wreath of gold oak leaves for the Duchess of Windsor), and celebrity houses (a castle for Elizabeth Arden), but his own residences were the most inspired of his deftly composed interiors.
He built this teak-filled teahouse at Sortilegium, the 175-acre Malibu ranch he shared with his beautiful wife, Beegle. Though fire destroyed the ranch in 1993, another L.A. residence, Dawnridge, is now owned by his longtime business partner, Hutton Wilkinson.