Talking to . . .Kevin Stark and Joe Doyle for HBF
Edited by Karen D. Singh -- Interior Design, 8/1/2007 12:00:00 AM
John Hutton's creations are synonymous with quiet elegance, whether they're for his own line or for Holly Hunt and Sutherland. When Hutton died last year, he was designing furniture for HBF. Kevin Stark, the company's vice president of design, and Joe Doyle, Hutton's brother-in-law and longtime employee, worked with his drawings to complete the unfinished collection and realize his vision.
Of the five Hutton groups, Alibi lounge seating favors classical forms, while Chill lounge seating features button tufting. Hopscotch side tables play with geometry, juxtaposing round tops with square insets and vice versa. Bias occasional tables and Drift lounge seating complete the offerings.
What do you feel inspired John Hutton for this collection?
KS: John commented how much he liked the quality of HBF furniture but thought it looked too formal. He set out to design more relaxed products.
JD: The seating is a little lower and deeper, with a generous pitch. The cartoonlike quality is unmistakable. For instance, the Alibi chair is right out of The Jetsons.
What was it like to complete a collection unrealized by its creator?
JD: It was, of course, emotional. I wasn't too worried about capturing John's vision. To a large extent, that's what I've been doing for the past 20 years. Working without the constant give-and-take, though, was strange.
KS: We did our best to respect his vision throughout the process. We paid great attention to the drawings and details John had given us, and we chose materials he'd suggested or else used previously.
What was your approach?
JD: When I would first receive designs from John, they'd be anything from a crude sketch to a multiple-view scale drawing—drawings for this collection ran the gamut, too. I used to develop the designs as required, review them with John, and revise if necessary. With the exception of the Alibi series, John was able to participate up to that point. The drawings were pretty much finalized before we submitted them to HBF. There was, of course, some tweaking.
How about the palette?
JD: For the seating, John suggested a whole barrage of colors: bright raspberry, soft aquamarines, off-whites, pale greens, and chocolates. But he acknowledged that HBF probably had some new textiles to feature as well. Coincidentally, there was quite a bit of overlap.
Was anything particularly difficult?
KS: Going back to our sample department and looking at his prototypes after we learned that he had passed away.
JD: John was larger than life. We felt his absence throughout the process.
Is there any one piece that embodies the spirit of John Hutton?
JD: It's easy to say that something is "so John." I've heard that a lot. But his work has touched so many different bases that I don't think any one piece can capture it all.
KS: The new pieces have classical geometry, playfulness, and comfort—all very reminiscent of John. But I think this collection, as a whole, speaks for itself.