Jeffrey Bilhuber’s New Home Collections Make Everything Old New Again

Chat with Jeffrey Bilhuber about interior design and brace yourself for some seriously peppy—and always deeply informed—proselytizing. The dashing Manhattan-based tastemaker to the stars (Iman, Mariska Hargitay) explains that his responsibility to his profession is to “move history forward and forge a new identity out of the old. It’s about revving up what’s classic in the American style canon and making it relevant for right now,” he continues. “Adding horsepower to history: That’s very appealing to me.”

Bilhuber’s four new collections, the first in a meteoric career that was launched in the 1980s, embody that fast-forward philosophy. His furniture and accessories for Henredon, which debuts in April, take inspired liberties with everything from eminent Victoriana (a rescaled slipper chair perches on gilded spiral feet) to a neoclassical commode owned by society swan Lee Radziwill.

“She’s one of my career’s remarkable influencers,” Bilhuber says, also citing, among other idiosyncratic American aesthetes, the oil heiress Millicent Rogers and the style diva Pauline de Rothschild. “They all found their own voice and created themselves in full.”

Bilhuber’s Tibetan and flatweave carpet collections for Elson & Co., another April introduction, riff on the geometry of American quilts (think Gloria Vanderbilt’s funky patchwork bedroom) and the eccentricities of Colonial-era mochaware. The results, chic yet spirited, remind Bilhuber of a conversation he had with couturier Hubert de Givenchy, an early client, who said, “France gave us refinement, and America gave us the sportif.”

“Adding horsepower to history: That’s very appealing to me.” —Jeffrey Bilhuber

Coming next year will be a porcelain dinner service created for de Gournay, the eminent wallpaper studio, on which garden flowers are drizzled with gold graffiti—inspired by what Bilhuber calls artist Nancy Lorenz’s “irreverent vandalization” of the gardenesque de Gournay paper in his Manhattan apartment.

“All these designs are modern-day interpretations of what we’ve always been seduced by but didn’t want to return to,” Bilhuber says. And, he stresses, though the products were conceived for the mass market, their point of view is absolutely custom. “Everything runs on a parallel track with my residential projects,” the AD100 decorator says. “They’re not two separate conversations.”

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