04 January 2011

Well Said: John Dickinson

Designer John Dickinson at home in San Francisco, California, 1978. Image by Terry Schmidt for the San Francisco Chronicle.

"A room is finished when you cannot remove something without it being missed. Everything must earn its keep."

So said John Dickinson (1920—1982), American decorator and designer, who was known for furniture and interiors that were "spare, cerebral, uncompromising, and original." Such as carved-wood lamp bases shaped like femurs or a table of galvanized tin ingeniously worked to resemble draped fabric.

17 comments:

Rose C'est La Vie said...

I'm intrigued. Tell us more, show us more!

John J. Tackett said...

I agree completely: the ability to edit is a crucial aspect of successful interior design.

The Down East Dilettante said...

by coincidence, just an hour ago I came across the clipping for Dickinson's SF firehouse, which practically made my jaw drop when I first saw it decades ago (now made so ordinary by John Traina)

Marvelous quote

Penelope Bianchi said...

Well, he was right about the cat!!
Interesting.......going through that.......around here.

Please comment........I have an opinion........(I won't change it after you tell yours........

Penelope
welcome back!!!

(it is all I can do to refrain from .....embarrassing you with way too much enthusiasm!)

Penelope Bianchi said...

the cat is really good. the skull I would remove.
what would you do with the rest?

Yikes!


ps HE is cute!

Penelope Bianchi said...

ps Oh I looked again. I would also remove his socks......and that unfortunate vest!

He is cute! And very good shoes! very early Guccis!!!

(the cat saves the whole thing!)

just my opinion.

Penelope Bianchi said...

sorry. You probably have a limit of comments.......

just in case.. I still have a chance. What in the hell is in the bowl????

Looks like bones? Couldn't be.........or could it?
Just wondering........

magnus said...

Somewhat along the same lines, Babe Paley once told a mutual friend of my mother's and hers that the secret of dressing was to get yourself perfectly pulled together to go out and then remove one piece of jewelry. I suppose that "less is more" is, in most cases, the best discipline to follow, but it is certainly a difficult one for those of us born with the "accumulator" gene.

Paul Pincus said...

I love John Dickinson. A total genius. I have a medium-ish sized (beaten-up) pair of three-legged John Dickinson tables I use as nightstands. I think they're hilarious.

''Everything must earn its keep." So true. That'll be my new maxim!! Thank you, AAL.

There was a really fun and amazing exhibit on his work at SFMOMA a few years ago (I'm pretty sure you caught that!!).

Flo said...

That draped table w/ the knotted handkerchief point....is metal?

I love what I think I see: an extraordinary tweed jacket and vest, worn with jeans. Or a jeans-like pair of pants. Obviously he's as deft with clothing juxtapositioning as he is with interior elements. I'm off to find more about this gentleman, thank you for the little sip.

The Swan said...

I find that his tables, and other little furnishings are the height of Surrealism to drop into your room...very Serge Roche meets Magritte/Dali. Who came first Friedberg in Mexico or Dickinson?

I love the Galvinized Tin tables that drape...didn't Elsie DeWolfe use them here and there, or did she do the same?

One thing about this image of a great San Francisco designer, is the NOW relevance of the Skull and bowl of femur bones - so Alexander McQueen/Damien Hirst! Of course, he was perhaps the one to open the door of the World of Vanitas to all the uninitiated masses.

Who could not forget THAT scented candle of the Past...Riguad and the requisite cover with ring...REMEMBER! The Duchess of Windsor and everyone downward coveted them. I am off to find one, in fact they were selling them on OneKingsLane a bit ago. My favorite scented candles for years have been in the Cobalt glass by Guerlain - VERY hard to find. La Windsor loved these as well.

quintessence said...

Well said indeed. "spare, cerebral, uncompromising, and original." - does it get any better?

tales from an oc cottage said...

Quite a quote! And how can I argue with a man who does not shy away from being photographed with his cat AND who rocked those amazing loafers!


m

VictoriaArt said...

People tend to believe the opposite...

maison21 said...

i am a huge admirer of his furniture. wish i had a spare 25 grand for a lil end table or sumpthin.

DN said...

Fantastic work, a huge icon, thanks for the post!

Claudia Juestel said...

I have always adored John Dickinson. I agree with everything need to earn its keep. But I think that it also applies to a more layered room.

Cheers,


Claudia