PaperCity Magazine

PaperCity May 2024 Dallas

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 105 of 115

Top: Mrs. Evelyn Marshall Field house, Chinese guest bedroom, Syosset, NY, 1933-1937. Mrs. Carolyn Morse Ely, Chicago, Illinois, 1930- 1934, apartment hallway into dining room. Maison Jansen, with lighting from Baguès." San Francisco interior d e s i g n e r S u z a n n e Tucker has visited and studied Elkins- designed residences in the Chicago region, as well as in Pebble Beach and Monterey. She was introduced to the beauty of Elkins' work when she was a young design assistant in the studio of Michael Taylor, a lifelong Elkins acolyte. "Elkins' w o r k t r a n s c e n d e d convention," Tucker says. "Hers was a world of rarefied clients for whom she created original designs with sophisticated elegance. Her rooms w e r e f u n c t i o n a l l y profound and visually enchanting. To this day, I study her work, her sense of balance, her obvious restraint, and her exquisitely edited eye for design." Masterful Elkins concepts that she used boldly in dining rooms in Los Angeles, Manhattan, and Lake Forest, Illinois, were inspired by stately English homes from Derbyshire and Kent, with 18th-century Chinese wallpaper and an army of Georgian dining chairs marching around a grand dining table. L.A. interior designer Michael S. Smith took note and has deployed dramatic hand- painted Chinese wallpaper and Georgian dining chairs for his own clients, from London to New York. He says that he's always been inspired by the layers of cosmopolitan design and style Elkins combined in grand rooms with a relaxed elegance. "Frances Elkins created some of the most polished, beautifully proportioned rooms you're ever likely to see," Smith says. "She was not aiming for a California look. Her work is chic, full of superb craftsmanship, worldly, understated, timeless. Anyone could view her grandest rooms and feel at ease, comfortable. A century later, her work still looks fresh and appropriate." S everal times a year, Elkins worked from the Paris Ritz hotel (Suite 305, overlooking the Place Vendôme). In the late '20s, she met Jean- Michel Frank, with whom she had both a very close personal friendship and business relationship. She also met Coco Chanel in Paris in the '20s and wore Chanel couture for the rest of her life. When Chanel made a business trip to Los Angeles in the '30s, she drove up the coast to the Monterey peninsula and stayed at Elkins' Casa. Every summer, Elkins and her brother David Adler rented a palazzo in Venice for a month. Guests included Jean Cocteau, Chanel, Salvador Dalí, Misia Sert, and Charles de Beistegui. Each August, Elkins also took a house in Biarritz. Her pals from Pebble Beach and Nob Hill joined her and acquired residences there to enjoy the season with their cosmopolitan friends. Elkins' roster of clients and projects continued to grow, with commissions of a monumental scale. In 1946, she renovated the Beverly Hills Hotel ballroom and designed the renovated landmark Royal Hawaiian Hotel on Waikiki Beach. The Santa Anita Turf Club followed in 1946 and again in 1952. For Hollywood producers, directors, and leading actors, Elkins turned on the glamor, sparing no expense. For Sol Wurtzel and his wife, she devised a drop-dead-chic dining room with chartreuse silk velvet curtains and chairs. Edward G. Robinson, who collected blue-chip Impressionist paintings, was given the old-money look, with Chippendale dining chairs and impeccably tailored upholstery. Fashioning classic interiors, Elkins crafted rooms that were timeless — her greatest gift to the generations of clients and decorators who followed. ROBERT BROST, COURTESY WILLIAM E. BOYD RAYMOND W. TROWBRIDGE, SCOTT POWELL COLLECTION 104

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of PaperCity Magazine - PaperCity May 2024 Dallas