John Hutton: A life in design

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One of America’s most pre-eminent designers, John Hutton, died unexpectedly last month at the age of 59. The design industry icon had immeasurable influence in the field of home furnishing and his work has been widely reproduced by mass-market manufacturers in Europe and America. Well known for his sophisticated, elegant designs and classical forms, Hutton leaves a legacy of over 20 furniture and textile collections attributed to his name, including 200 award-winning designs, many of which are housed in prestigious institutions such as The Brooklyn Museum and The Houston Museum of Fine Arts.

Hutton studied at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology where he developed a respect for classical 18th century French design which has influenced him. From 1978 to 1998, Hutton was design director for Angela Donghia, the leading supplier of fabrics and furnishings to interior designers and architects. He later set up his own company, designing furniture collections for US companies Hickory Business Furniture and Holly Hunt as well as Italian manufacturer Flexform, Dutch-based Bench Ensemble and French company Pierre Counot-Blandin with whom he recently opened Pierre, a furniture shop in Paris devoted to his line.

A highly prolific collaboration was with David Sutherland. Hutton inspired many of the collections in the Perennials Outdoor Fabrics range, and together with Sutherland generated a revolution in the design world, which saw a continuum of style from the indoors to the outdoors. The pair presented the radical notion that sophisticated, comfortable furniture could be designed for the outdoors and, for the first time, brought high style to the outdoor furniture market.

Hutton’s work as a furniture designer allowed him to bring a truly unique viewpoint to his textile design. The John Hutton Textile Collection reflects an understanding of the modern lifestyle. Hutton recognised that homes have evolved beyond mere shelters into spaces where people seek refuge from the outside world and express their creativity. His textiles are practical yet luxurious, and have a casual elegance.

Born in New York, Hutton had a truly global perspective on design. He travelled extensively across the US, Europe and Asia absorbing culture and art and forming relationships with niche textile mills on the cutting edge of fibre and weave technology exploration.

His commercial work includes the Sony Style showroom in New York, ResidenSea ship interiors, the American Centre in Paris and the reoutfitting of the S.S. France. Through his clean, contemporary yet classical interior collections, Hutton succeeded in becoming one of the most celebrated designers of the modern age.

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