Furnishings: Grand Design
Known for designing large and lavishly appointed rooms, Illya Hendrix and Tom Allardyce, owners of the Los Angeles firm Hendrix Allardyce, have introduced a furniture collection that suits their style. Nearly all of the 140 antique reproductions are exuberant designs of rich detail and, in many instances, generous proportions.
The latter trait was more of a necessity than a choice, Allardyce explains, because present-day realities have rendered many authentic antiques impractical. “People are taller than they were in the 18th century,” he says. “Rooms are getting bigger and ceilings higher, so we need larger pieces for balance and scale. Even in smaller spaces, like condominiums, our approach is to use a few large-scale pieces, instead of a room full of small ones, to create the illusion of greater space. It’s a trick of the eye.”
Even more consequential than scale was each design’s composition. The designers wanted their furniture to reflect the same melting pot of objets d’art—17th- and 18th-century Italian and French antiques, Chinese chinoiserie, and British Colonial decorative elements—that distinguishes their interiors. “The things we selected are all classical but unique unto themselves,” says Allardyce, noting his fondness for fanciful carvings. “I like pieces that are whimsical and create a feeling of joy.”
This affinity for intricately carved pieces is evident in the design of Hendrix and Allardyce’s oversize San Lorenzo dining table, their version of a 17th-century French antique, which they fashioned with a parquet walnut surface and two ornately carved limestone pedestals. The Lord Latham armchair, their interpretation of a sculptural 19th-century Anglo-Indian chair, incorporates lacquered ebony and natural cane. “When the English were in India, they used local craftsmen to create variations on what was generally Regency furniture,” says Allardyce. Unlike many of the standard Colonial-style furnishings, the designers’ version “is a bit more upscale. It’s still inset with cane, but it’s more fanciful and heavily carved.”
Other antique-inspired pieces, such as sweeping high-back sofas, long altar tables, and candlestick floor lamps, include contemporary touches. One such design is the Lugano upholstered walnut armchair, which features the clean lines of an 18th-century Italian original with wet-wrapped leather, a favorite material of the duo. “Wet-wrapping gives the upholstery a tautness and also gives a high-gloss finish to the leather,” says Allardyce, adding that the company can customize the Lugano as a large-scale dining chair or as a living room side chair. The richly carved, high-back Braga chair, based on the design of an 18th-century Italian Baroque antique, affords similar seating options. Both are near-replicas, says Allardyce, “but the scale has been modified drastically for comfort.”
With its intermingling of styles, the furniture shares a characteristic with what Allardyce considers an ideal interior design. “Most rooms today incorporate some classical elements,” he says, “because classic design provides the perfect foil for modern design.”