Denning & Fourcade, Inc.

Denning & Fourcade, Inc.
Type corporation
Genre design
Founded 1960
Founder(s) Robert Denning and Vincent Fourcade
Headquarters

New York City, United States


and Paris France
Products custom designed furniture
Services interior design

Robert Denning & Vincent Fourcade, Inc. (1960 – 2006) was an interior design firm which for over forty years was a leader in opulent interiors with offices in New York City and Paris. They are known for their "Proust-must-have-slept-here settings for a clientele with anything but American tastes."[1]

Founded in 1960 by Robert Denning, a protégé of Edgar de Evia, and Vincent Fourcade son of the French banking family who grew up with the Rothschilds. Their first clients were Lillian Bostwick and Ogden Phipps[2] who they entertained together with others from New York society in the opulent Rhinelander Mansion, which Denning shared with deEvia. Their work would be featured through the years in most major interior and fashion magazines including Architectural Digest, Arts & Decoration, House & Garden, Town & Country and many others. The home that they decorated for Henry Kravis was parodied in the 1990 movie "The Bonfire of the Vanities"[3] with Tom Hanks.

Beginning early in their career, they created "decorator rooms" for leading department stores, Tiffany's,[4] Decoration and Design, 1961 exhibition, where they featured wall to wall carpet and cushions of real raccoon against walls and upholstery in silk Fortuny[5] and at historic homes. At Old Westbury Gardens on Long Island, the old Phipps estate, they in 1963 created one of the most opulent areas with their design for a Yachtswoman's poolside boudoir.[6] "A lot of our earliest clients—like Michel David-Weill—were people Vincent had gone to parties with. It was a little like, 'let's put on a show'"[7]

They also did complete temporary makeovers for large parties in clients apartments, putting the usual furnishings in storage, creating a unique effect with fabrics, potted flowers, plants and trees and hired gilt chairs. At one such party Gloria Vanderbilt Lumet learned to twist.[8] Mrs. John F. Kennedy had the team design a party just before they designed the ninth annual Opera Ball for more than 1,000 persons in the Smithsonian Institution's Museum of History and Technology[9] They also gave parties for hundreds themselves entertaining the likes of Diana Vreeland, the Kennedys, Horst, the Norman Mailers, Isabel (Nash) and Fred Eberstadt, Eliane David-Weill, Gerry Stutz, and anyone that got past the sentry of Fourcade's list.[10]

The firm has been known for their extensive architectural changes to existing structures, as in the partners own home in the Lombardy Hotel in Manhattan, where ceilings and walls are torn out to the structural foundations and then new and elaborate columns, panels, and moldings are used for base resurfacing before the application of fabrics and polychrome. Their work with new homes, from ocean front to city penthouses have also created unique spaces for clients which transport one to other cultures and centuries.

They have also applied their skills to commercial applications which include the lobby at the Lombardy Hotel in 1996 and Etoile Restaurant which is located in the hotel several years earlier. Here Denning used his signature arm lamps with fringed shades and numerous reproduction paintings made from his own originals, housed in his apartments in Manhattan and Paris. The restaurant today is known as Table 12 and retains the earlier decorating. Denning also did the offices for the Carlisle Collection[11] in New York City which was founded by another client William Rondina.[12]

Clients of note have included Countess Rattazzi, for whom Denning did homes in Manhattan, South America and Italy (over 15 houses in all),[13] Henry Kravis[14], Charles and Jayne Wrightsman[14]; Henry Kissinger[14]; Oscar de la Renta[15], Jean Vanderbilt[15], the Ogden Phipps family[15], Phyllis Cerf Wagner[16], Lynette and Richard Merillat, Marlene and Spencer Hays,[17] Henry P. McIlhenny[18] and many others. Two of their clients have collections named for them at the Metropolitan Museum of Art: The Wrightsman Galleries and The Henry R. Kravis Wing. In the case of the Wrightsman Wing, these include works and objects some of which were originally procured by the firm for the Wrightsman home.

The firm has always participated in charity benefits such as the auction to benefit Friends In Deed, a counseling organization for people with AIDS and cancer[19] to decorating the main foyer of the von Stade mansion to benefit Southampton's Rogers Memorial Library.[20]

Referred to in New York magazine as "...the Odd Couple. Boyish, down-to-earth Denning is the hardest worker, while Fourcade sniffs the client air to gauge if it's socially registered before he goes beyond the fringe."[10] Fourcade died of AIDS in 1992[21] and the firm was dissolved after Denning's death on August 26, 2005.[22]

References

  1. ^ "Florida Renaissance - Italianate Splendors Enrich A Villa in Naples", by Suzanne Stephens, Architectural Digest, October 2000, v. 57 #10, pp. 284-298
  2. ^ Phipps Sale at Sotheby's by Wendy Moonan 11 October 2002, New York Times
  3. ^ in:sensedesign
  4. ^ "24 – Carat Caper", Home Furnishings (a Fairchild publication), February 28, 1963, v. 35 #41, front page-p. 4.
  5. ^ "Model Room at Show", New York Herald Tribune, October 15, 1961
  6. ^ "When Decorators Move Outdoors" by Camille Duhe, New York Herald Tribune, May 24, 1963, Fashion, Home, Food section.
  7. ^ "Past Perfect in Paris–A Richly Detailed Apartment for a New York Designer" by Annette Tapert, Architectural Digest, October 1995, v. 52 #10, pp. 168-173
  8. ^ "The Jewelry Basics", by Eugenia Sheppard, New York Herald Tribune, December 11, 1961
  9. ^ "Capital's Opera Ball: Swinging Exhibition Instituted at Smithsonian; Benefit Thronged by Over 1,000 Raises a Cool $100,000" by Myra MacPherson, May 8, 1966, New York Times online retrieved August 9, 2009
  10. ^ a b "Inside the Decorating Establishment — The Ant and the Grasshopper" by Rosemary Kent, New York, April 28, 1975
  11. ^ Visit to the Carlisle Showroom retrieved June 29, 2006
  12. ^ "Carlisle Calling" by Suzanne Slesin September 27, 1982, New York Times online retrieved August 9, 2009
  13. ^ "Editorial Statement — Brushing Up Jason Epstein's Downtown Loft", by Judith Thurman, Architectural Digest, March 1995, v. 52 #3, pp. 186-200
  14. ^ a b c The Best Revenge (Isn’t It Always) by Dan Shaw, October 15, 2006, New York Times online retrieved December 30, 2008
  15. ^ a b c The Sweet Smell of Excess by Patricia Volk, October 8, 2006, New York Times online retrieved October 4, 2007
  16. ^ "Wendy's Warren" by Max Abelson, The New York Observer February 12, 2007 online retrieved September 27, 2007
  17. ^ "Manhattan Grand Luxe — Richly Appointed Rooms For Collectors", by Aileen Mehle, Architectural Digest, September 1994, v. 51 #9, pp. 126-176
  18. ^ Henry P. McIlhenny papers
  19. ^ Buttons, bows and Damask: Designer Chairs at Auction by Elaine Louie, December 12, 1996, New York Times online retrieved June 29, 2006
  20. ^ Southampton Show House to Open Doors by Suzanne Slesin, June 30, 1983, New York Times online retrieved June 29, 2006
  21. ^ Vincent Fourcade, 58, Decorator Known for His Ornate Interiors by Carol Vogel, December 25, 1992, New York Times obituary
  22. ^ "Robert Denning Dies at 78; Champion of Lavish Décor", by Mitchell Owens, September 4, 2005, New York Times obituary

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