For the past two decades, tastemakers Delphine and Reed Krakoff have built a stunning collection of art and design that has shaped their lives and given each of their fabulous homes its own unique character. In a special evening sale on 23 May, Sotheby’s New York will offer more than 150 works from the couple’s collection, including iconic pieces by Les Lalannes, Marc Newson, Jean Prouvé, Giacometti and other important makers. Ahead of the sale, the Krakoffs reflect on how their taste has changed, collecting as a team, favorite works and more.
REED AND DELPHINE KRAKOFF. PHOTOGRAPH © KRISTINE LARSEN.
She has decades of experience designing interiors and apparel, and so does he. From Louis Vuitton in Paris to Coach in New York, before founding her interior design firm, Pamplemousse, in 2000, French-born Delphine Krakoff has dedicated her career to fashion and design. And from his reinvention of the Coach brand to his becoming the chief artistic officer of Tiffany & Company last year, Reed Krakoff has done much the same. The couple’s exquisite taste has dazzled visitors to the residences they have created together – among them, town houses in New York, a Connecticut mansion and a historic East Hampton estate that was once the childhood summer home of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy – all featured in the book they published last year, Houses That We Dreamt Of (Rizzoli). As their perpetual quest for impeccable purity of design continues, the Krakoffs have decided to part with some of their holdings in a dedicated sale on 23 May because, as Delphine explains, collecting is a transient process.
NEW YORK: A RARE BLACK SHEEP BY FRANÇOIS-XAVIER LALANNE FROM 1968 IS SEEN AT THE ENTRANCE TO THE LIVING ROOM, WHICH IS GROUNDED BY A 1930S MARION DORN-DESIGNED CARPET. A WHITE MARBLE BONE ARMCHAIR BY JORIS LAARMAN FACES AN OURS POLAIRE SOFA BY JEAN ROYÈRE. AMONG THE ARTWORKS ARE A SWEEPING MORRIS LOUIS VEIL PAINTING FROM 1958 AND AN ACROBATIC WOOD SCULPTURE BY JOEL SHAPIRO. PHOTOGRAPHY © IVAN TERESTCHENKO.
Your decorating style has been described as effortless. Is that accurate? How else would you characterize it?
DK: It’s personal, always evolving and always reflecting its location both geographically and experientially.
RK: I would also say that it is bold, layered over time and unexpected.
Aesthetically and design-wise, what differentiates your Paris residence and your New York town house, or the Connecticut house and what Lasata represented?
RK: Each of our homes reflects a combination of aesthetics, lifestyle and location, and every property begins with a colour as its touchstone. In Paris, the pale sky-blue tone was our response to the authentic 18th-century building, as was blending period furniture with contemporary commissions. New York is our main residence, so pearl grey, ease of living and functionality are incorporated into the interiors. For our house in the Connecticut woods, we chose chalk white – a quiet, spare, contemplative colour. And for Lasata, a historic weekend home near the ocean, which was all about light inside and out, sunflower-yellow was the obvious choice.
NEW CANAAN, CONNECTICUT: IN THE DINING ROOM, A CIRCA 1780 SACK-BACK WINDSOR CHAIR RESTS IN FRONT OF A FELT SERIES LOW TABLE DESIGNED BY THE KRAKOFFS. A POLYCHROMED NEOCLASSICAL TORSO BY ANDRÉ BIZETTE-LINDET IS POSITIONED ON AN ANTIQUE SCULPTOR’S STAND BEHIND ONE OF A PAIR OF JEAN-MICHEL FRANK CUBIST ARMCHAIRS, UPHOLSTERED IN THE ORIGINAL HERMÈS LEATHER. THE DINING TABLE IS BY MARTIN SZEKELY. PHOTOGRAPHY © IVAN TERESTCHENKO.
As collectors, has your aesthetic evolved over time?
DK: With every new project, our perspective on art and design evolves. As the story of each home unfolds, we are constantly exploring new points of view while re-examining past projects. Every house tells us what it wants to be. So in the end, every finished project is always a surprise.
Do you each have a different approach to creating interiors?
RK: We collaborate on every aspect of our interiors. Delphine is much better spatially, more detail-oriented.
DK: I tend to be more conceptual and academic, so it’s a constant dialogue.
Do you collect together or separately?
DK: We have always collected together. We’re always challenging each other’s perception of what works and what doesn’t.
RK: We never acquire anything that we can’t agree on – but that doesn’t happen often with us.
Do different homes or rooms reflect your individual styles, or do you aim to strike a balance?
DK: All the homes we have created together are an amalgam of our styles at a particular point in time, in service of the needs of our family. Our dialogue throughout the process is organic and unpredictable, but the end result is always a shared vision.
PARIS: THE SPIRALING EMILIO TERRY CARPET WAS INTENDED FOR DELPHINE AND REED KRAKOFF’S NEW YORK HOME, BUT IT TURNED OUT TO BE THE CORNERSTONE OF THE PARIS LIVING ROOM. THE FANTASTICAL ABYSS CONSOLE WAS CUSTOM-MADE BY MATTIA BONETTI. A UNIQUE CRYSTAL AND HAMMERED-COPPER LANTERN BY ANDRÉ DUBREUIL HANGS IN FRONT OF A 2005 DAMIEN HIRST SPIN PAINTING. PHOTOGRAPH © IVAN TERESTCHENKO.
What are your favourite pieces of furniture, artworks or artists?
DK: I love the Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann macassar-ebony and shagreen dressing table that Reed gave me on our wedding day, as well as a Jean-Michel Frank sofa for Hermès – an incredible rarity in its original leather upholstery. Frances Elkins, the great mid-century decorator, had installed the piece in a Chicago mansion – known as the Reed House, coincidentally – designed by architect David Adler.
RK: The Abyss console that Mattia Bonetti custom-made for us, Harry Bertoia’s monumental Bush sculpture, and a Joris Laarman rocker from his Bone series are definitely among my favourites. Also, the Crocodile chair that we purchased directly from François-Xavier and Claude Lalanne after we visited their home in France. In terms of art, Jean Arp’s Ptolemy II, which resided at the centre of the boxwood maze at Lasata. It replaced a stone sundial that remained from the days when the Bouviers owned the property.
What is the concept behind the Sotheby’s sale? Why is this the moment to part with some of your collection?
RK: We have been collecting for nearly twenty years and have completed ten homes together. As our lives and points of view have matured, we have felt an increasing desire to pass on part of our collection.
DK: We really believe that collecting is a transient process, which is constantly challenging our aesthetic choices. The education and experience of travelling together and pursuing new pieces remains, but we feel it’s time to let go a little.
EAST HAMPTON, NEW YORK: THE TRADITIONAL SUNKEN GARDEN AT LASATA, ONCE THE SUMMER HOME OF THE BOUVIER FAMILY, WAS TRANSFORMED INTO A GEOMETRIC MAZE BY LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT PERRY GUILLOT. AT THE ENTRY, STANDING ATOP A COLUMN OF SOLID ANTIQUE BLUESTONE, IS JEAN ARP’SPTOLEMY II, WHICH WAS CONCEIVED IN 1958 AND CAST SOON AFTER. PHOTOGRAPHY © IVAN TERESTCHENKO.
What is the most important rule of collecting?
DK: For us, it has always been very simple: collect what you love, and always buy the best examples of the creators that you love. Quality always trumps quantity. Don’t forget that the process of building a collection and getting to know people along the way is just as important, if not more, as the objects themselves.
Is there something – a work of art or design or a house – that you have regretted not buying?
RK: Absolutely nothing.
What’s next? Do you foresee more homes in your future?
RK: Creating homes, collecting, travelling and learning are fundamental to our lives. In fact, we’ve already started work on a new home together.
LEAD IMAGE: DELPHINE AND REED KRAKOFF’S NEW YORK HOME. PHOTOGRAPHY © IVAN TERESTCHENKO.
A Collection That We Dreamt Of: Art and Design from the Homes of Delphine and Reed Krakoff will be on view at Sotheby’s New York from 19–22 May. Auction: 23 May. Enquiries: +1 212 606 7170.