New Style has come to the Welcome Home Blog! Change is good for the soul! Well, my soul anyway. It refreshes my spirit and renews my creative inspiration for design.
In celebration, I am posting my first article about 1:6 scale furniture design, published in Fashion Doll Quarterly Magazine, Summer 2008 – “The Glamour Issue”.
For those of you who have never seen this article, I hope you enjoy it. It was wonderful to do the research and find out about, not only the furniture and design, but the man behind the vision as well.
For those of you who have seen this article, I hope you will revisit it with new eyes and enjoy it once again.
Happy Fall Everyone !
The Glamour of William Haines
Furniture, Text and Photography by: Maryann Roy
When most people think of the word glamour, I’ll bet furniture is the furthest thing from their minds. But I’d like to introduce you to a man who not only brought modernism to the homes of Hollywood Stars, but who dared to step out on a limb and show his true love of glamour through his furniture and decorating skills.
Renowned for both his talent and professionalism, William Haines began his career acting in movies, not designing. While still under contract to MGM in the 1930’s, Haines opened an antiques store, which many of his Hollywood colleagues frequented. They were so impressed with his taste that soon they were asking him to decorate their own homes.
William, or Billy, as he was known to his friends, had an eye for detail. His experience with set design, combined with his studio connections, provided the necessary celebrity to launch his transition from “Actor” to “Decorator”.
His list of clientele included quite a number of famous and influential people in Hollywood, like, The Warners, The Bloomingdales, George Cukor, George Burns and Gracie Allen to name just a few.
One of his dearest and closet friends was Joan Crawford. She was the first to hire William Haines on a professional basis to decorate her new house. She would call on him many times over their long friendship to decorate and refresh her homes.
George Cukor (famous Hollywood director of such classic films like: Dinner at Eight, Camille and Adam’s Rib) had William decorate his residence in the Hollywood Hills. This put Haines reputation on the map. Cukor’s home was an absolute palace! One very glamorous, stately mansion overlooking the hills, where all of Hollywood’s top stars would congregate and socialize. Free advertising, no doubt!
The “Haines Look” though, did not develop until he was asked to design a room setting for the Golden Gate International Exposition in San Francisco in 1939. The room had a totally modern feel to it, from the leather floor and sheer mohair curtains to the felt and leather sofa and rawhide coffee table. Being asked to design one of these rooms for the exposition, along with many other established modernists, meant that Haines was officially recognized as one of the country’s leading designers.
His movement into modernism led the way for others. He truly brought Hollywood out of the Dark Ages.
In 1949, William built a new design office with room for designers, architects, and draftsmen, paving the way for the brilliant work that was yet to come in the 1950’s and 60’s.
Haines furniture was low and comfortable, making rooms look larger, feel more grand and spacious. He believed a room should have several seating areas where everyone would feel included. One of his signature styles was to include a gemütlich* table. It enabled a more intimate gathering place for socializing and card playing.
William also had a love of Chinoiserie*. He quite frequently decorated interiors using pieces like Chinese figurines, statues, and wall murals. He would also transform sculptures into one of- a- kind-lamps. This too became a signature accessory in his interior designs. Always a stickler for detail, he would even have holes drilled into tables so that the lamp cords would not be visible.
His grand style had a lighter, more cosmopolitan look and from then on was known as “Hollywood Regency” – Movie Stars living like Stars.
One could totally get lost in William Haines’ world. His talent for showing glamour and style is literally timeless. Many of his pieces look as fresh today as they did nearly 50 years ago. This shows a man of great insight who was way ahead of his time.
When asked to give his opinion on the importance of taste, William Haines replied: “I can only tell you this-I would rather have taste than either love or money.”
*Gemütlich – pronounced : ge-‘müt-lik – agreeably pleasant, comfortable
*Chinoiserie – pronounced – shēn-‘waz-rē – A style in Art reflecting Chinese quality.
Reference: Class Act – By Peter Shifando and Jean H. Mathison – ISBN 0-9727661-4-6
William Haines Designs – www.williamhaines.com
All furniture and set recreations in 1:6 scale – Maryann Roy – firstname.lastname@example.org
(My favorite William Haines quote – “Design is an opinion, not a profession.”)