'If it's not shagadelic or groovy, it's not coming into the house'
Tommy and Dee Hilfiger aim for a 'wow' factor in their Florida residence
Pop and post-Pop Art treasures adorn the couple's 14,000 square-foot home
Designer Martyn Lawrence planned 'part art gallery and part 1960s--'70s disco madness'
The great American graphic designer Milton Glaser once declared, “There are three responses to a piece of design—yes, no, and wow! Wow is the one to aim for.” Tommy and Dee Hilfiger apparently endorse that notion. The fashion mogul and his wife have planted their flag on a glorious stretch of beachfront just north of Miami with a home defined by spectacular moments, whimsical flourishes, and astonishing coups de théâtre. In this case wow! might be an understatement.
“We’re here for the weather, the Latin flavor, the art, and the palm trees. Most of all we’re here for the fun,” says Tommy. The residence also provides a base near his latest business venture. Hilfiger, who sold his fashion label several years ago but remains its principal designer, recently purchased the Raleigh hotel in Miami Beach, and he plans to refurbish the Art Deco gem starting in 2015.
But first he and Dee had their own renovation project to tackle. The house they settled on was a 2007 modern structure, offering some 14,000 square feet. Size was crucial, as the couple coveted space for works from their extensive art collection that had long been held in storage.
“Our Connecticut home feels very country, with lots of taxidermy, and our place in Mustique has a more British Colonial vibe. We wanted to be able to showcase the colorful large-scale artworks that didn’t make sense elsewhere, conceptually or size-wise,” Dee explains, referring to their trove of Pop and post-Pop treasures by Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, and others.
To realize the energetic, art-friendly abode they imagined, the couple turned to Los Angeles interior designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard. Having admired his facility with bold gestures and integrating major art into domestic settings—specifically, his work at the L.A. residence of Elton John and David Furnish—the Hilfigers enlisted Bullard to help conjure a home attuned to the rhythms and colors of Miami.
“Tommy and Dee obviously have an incredible sense of fashion, so my job was to translate their vision into interior spaces that feel vibrant and compelling,” says Bullard. “Together, we conceived the house as part art gallery and part 1960s–’70s disco madness.”
The designer started by replacing ubiquitous dark-wood paneling and expanses of travertine with clean white walls and new flooring of white-glass tiles to cultivate a pristine aura. For graphic contrast he reclad the central staircase in black marble—a strategy reiterated in the black and white stripes on the kitchen floor. Once the backdrop was set, it was off to the races.
“I told Martyn, ‘If it’s not shagadelic or groovy, it’s not coming into the house,’” Dee recounts, describing her criteria for furniture and finishes. True to form, Bullard obliged with a kaleidoscopic array of colors, materials, and furnishings, all deployed in vignettes that scream glamour and sex appeal.
The heart of the home is the voluminous living room, presided over by a monumental collaborative painting by Warhol and Basquiat. Ignoring stale precepts that dictate the isolation of art from decor, Bullard extrapolated the painting’s vivid hues in an orgiastic hair-on-hide carpet featuring lavish swirls. He also commissioned reeditions of classic sofas by Vladimir Kagan and side tables by Willy Rizzo to inhabit the space.