The term “Hollywood Regency”, originating in the 1920s with larger-than-life personality designer Dorothy Draper (see January, 2018 blog), have no shortage of adopters and admirers. Becoming popular with the masses after the wind-down of the Great Depression, its going strong and its unbridled glamour has evolved in each coming decade. The enduring popularity of the style is its mix-in to other styles as Mid Century Modernism and brutalism.
Named for the movies of Southern California, Hollywood Regency, is sometimes known as Regency Moderne, is typified by opulence a bold use of color, dark and light contrasts mirrors lush textures, glass and metallic accents, and luscious curve. The details are sumptuous its intent is to bring in to mind the glamorous estates of early Hollywood celebrities such as Carole Lombard, Clark Gable and Greta Garboe. During the “Golden Age” of filmmaking, producers tried to complement their larger-than-life stars with larger-than-life sets which carried over into interior decorating. As Rochelle summed it up: “Hollywood Regency is glitz and glamour covered in lacquer, chrome, and mirrored finishes. Every detail is meant to say luxury and there is always the feeling that people should look good sitting in the design— particularly if they are wearing satin bathrobes sipping a cocktail.
Low-slung furniture in traditional forms contrasts with luxury-detailed accessories in the contrast mix. Key elements such as tufted sofas and modern Greek and Egyptian influenced silhouettes and furniture styles are plenty. Executed by a mix of bold statement pieces and delicate accents, Hollywood Regency combined fancy fabrics and finishes with traditional architectural elements. Think of the balance between positive and negative space on a canvas a concept becomes clear. Art Deco touches, lacquered finishes (shinier the better!!), mirror furniture, Jewel Tones, animal skins in cheetah, snakeskin and zebra, and black and white elements of the Hollywood Regency palette. Fabrics with glamorous textures channel the movie stars of the 1940s velvet suede chenille fur silk and satin. Think of a designer gown worn by Rita Hayworth at the Oscars and you’re a little way . When you think of Hollywood Regency, you think of drama. World travel, was picking up in popularity as the style took off so collected world treasures became in the mix too, including palm fronds gilded bamboo and Chinoisarie.
Designers who have made this style part of their repertoire include the architect Paul R. Williams, Dorothy Draper, David Hicks, Kelly Wearstler and Billy Haines. Haines, one of the most important designers of the style, was originally an aspiring Hollywood actor. After winning a “New Faces” talent contest sponsored by Samuel Goldwyn, he came to Hollywood and appeared in more than 50 films before he was eventually ousted from the studios due to his refusal to deny his homosexuality and enter into a sham marriage. It was his friendships with Hollywood starlets, among them Joan Crawford and Gloria Swanson–who were impressed with his taste in design– that launched him into popularity as a decorator for the elite; many of his furniture designs are still much loved today. His work was characterized by oversized sculptures, bold colorways, deeply tufted seating, rich textiles and over-the-top feminine touches. One of Haines’ greatest contributions to twentieth century design was moving away from stiff and traditional earlier trends into a more playful aesthetic.
Dorothy Draper pushed the boundaries of the style, incorporating classic architectural elements with massive scale, bold patterns and the unabashed use of color. The popularity of her Greenbrier Hotel project made a household name and helped the esthetic.
He spent his early years on the East Coast fostering interest in pottery. He studied semioticks and art history at Brown University, he began teaching classes at Mud Sweat and Tears in new york . Armed with sample of pots he made, he called Barney’s received his first order and became a potter. He became inspired by South American textiles and added them along with pillows and throws to his inventory that he opened in 1998 now 30 stores Nation Wide. In 2004 he got some commissions for interiors including the remodel of the Parker Palm Springs Hotel and Spa. His aesthetic owes a lot to a hollywood regency style.
Paul Williams was a noted Los Angeles architect of African descent who represents the quintessential American rags-to-riches story. Shortly after his family moved to LA from Memphis his father died and then his mother separated from his sibling, he was placed into a foster home, and his new mother took a interest in her son’s development. Discouraged by a teacher at Polytechnic High School from pursuing a career he persisted and while training worked for several Los Angeles design firms eventually obtaining his building contractor’s certification in 1915 and his state certification in 1921. Earning accolades from employers he opened his own practice and became first Africanamerican member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) in 1923. His practice grew to designing large homes in the Hancock Park, Flintridge and Windsor Square and his interior decoration became part of practice, garnering him commissions to design homes for Lucy and Desi, the Paleys, Jeniffer Jones and Frank Sinatra. His sought-after aesthetic made him an important contributor to what became known as the hollywood regency.
Although it has evolved far beyond its LA roots, Hollywood Regency’s enduring and intriguing allure remains timeless, and endures as an ode to the drama and glamour of its origins.