Saturday, July 9, 2011

Design Crush: William Haines

Dear Mr. Haines,
I'm sorry to admit this, but I just recently fell in love with your work. Sure, I'd heard about you on the street and stuff, and in design school people sung your praises. But it wasn't until an awesome customer at work shared his passion for your work with me that I really started seeing my feelings shift in your direction. 

Now, Billy (can I call you that?), first I have to tell you I am proud of you. Being openly gay in the 1920's and being one of the most famous silent film actors at the time? Yep, nothing but proud of you. When MGM dropped your contract in 1930 because of your refusal to deny your sexual orientation...I gotta say, knowing that you remained proud and stuck to your guns, fills me with hope. 

At that point, you turned away from film forever and let your design talents soar. This is where my heart flutters....You designed interiors for Joan Crawford, Gloria Swanson, Carole Lombard, George Cukor,(who were all your friends from your film days),Betsy Bloomingdale, Nancy and Ronald Reagan, and Leonore Annenberg, to name a few. 

Billy, let's talk about your furtniture. While you were one of the biggest to popularize the "Hollywood Regency" style, I admire your ability to span so many different (although they are all modern) design styles, such as "California Modern", "Mid Century Modern" and "American Modern". Billy, you were a rule breaker! You combined Antiques with Modern pieces, and English and Continental furniture which was a major shake up for your after my own heart, you are!!

William Haines, your life's work is inspiring. Your story is inspiring. Your lifestyle is inspiring. YOU are inspiring. To be a man that struggled with the predominating culture, still coming out of it with a partner who loves you, a career that is inspiring to current designers everywhere (uuhh, ME! For one), and to have a true legacy that continues even after your death? WOW. Take that, MGM studios! You clearly didn't need them.

And now, I will share some photos so we can all drool.

Handsome, to boot! Lucky Mr. Shields. Source
Pull Up Chair. Source

Valentine Sofa. Source
Ice Crystal Wall Sconce. Source
Modern man, modern design. Source

"You can hide things behind veils and ruffles, but when you come to simplicity, the truth comes out." -William Haines

"The only real freedom we have left is the home. Only there can we express anything we want." -William Haines

What a design master, am I right? Am I right?



  1. These are amazing, he clearly was very ahead of his time. I love that Valentine sofa especially. Thanks for sharing this awesome story :) <33

  2. SERIOUSLY!!!! Just wiped the drool from my chin

  3. Glad you guys like him! I can't handle how nice that wall sconce is!! I had so much fun learning about him...such a dynamic person and an amazing designer.

  4. You're right. :)

    He sounds like a very interesting and inspiring person.

  5. Love this! His quote about simplicity bringing out the truth is perfect.

  6. Isn't that a wonderful statement? True and eloquent.