Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Mallett Goes Modern
Since 1958, Bourdon House, located in London's prestigious Mayfair district, has been home to Mallett, Britain's premiere dealers of antiques and fine art. In conjunction with their main gallery on nearby New Bond Street, Mallett used the historic town house not just for offices, but for life-like displays of the fine furnishings and paintings that have established them as the country's chief exporter of English-country house style.
Above: Entrance hall and dining room displays at Mallett's Bourdon House location.
The house, built in the 1720s, was the private residence of the 2nd Duke of Westminster, until his death in 1953 and is a Grade II listed building. Mallett has been the sole owner since (or, rather, owners of a 95 year lease by the Grosvenor Estate), but all that changed last December. In a tremendous decision to redefine its mission (and to survive today's troubled antiques market) Mallett sold the 15,225-square foot town house to Richemont, the luxury goods group whose clients include Cartieer, Alfred Dunhill and Van Cleef & Arpels, for £14.25 million. The contents of the Boudon House will be auctioned off by Sotheby's on the 9th of March.
Mallett will retain its New Bond Street and Madison Avenue, New York, locations. What it has added to the mix, however, are two rather surprising components. The first is a new restoration business in partnership with specialists H.J. Hatfield & Sons, at a new location on Clapham High Street, in South London. The second is a £1 million exploratory effort to develop a line of contemporary furniture, created by leading British architects and designers. Mallett certainly isn't the first to move in this direction, but it is particularly surprising for a company who's nearly 150-year history has been firmly rooted in the 18th century. Whether they will produce antiques-inspired furnishings or completely modern designs is yet to be seen, but country-house style hasn't been reconsidered since David Hicks cleared out the chintz in the 1970s. Perhaps it's time for a redo.