Robert Denning

Robert Denning

American interior designer
Date of Birth: 13.03.1927
Country: USA

  1. Biography of Robert Denning
  2. Early Life and Influences
  3. Denning & Fourcade
  4. The "Odd Couple" and Career Success
  5. Solo Career and Recognition
  6. Later Years and Legacy

Biography of Robert Denning

Robert Denning was born on March 13, 1927, as Robert Dennis Besser. He was an American interior designer known for his interpretation of French Victorian decor, which became a symbol of corporate raiders' taste in the 1980s.

Early Life and Influences

Denning's interest in health and fitness began at a young age, influenced by his parents Jean Rosen and Jacob Besser. At the age of 15, he met Edgar de Evia, a scientific assistant to Dr. Guy Beckley Stearns and a future renowned photographer. Denning became a "guinea pig" for homeopathic medical research and, when his family moved to Florida, he stayed in New York City, living with Edgar and his mother. Denning fondly recalled seeing his first lampshade in de Evia's home, as he had been accustomed to living with just a bare light bulb. In his first attempt at decorating, Denning, along with Edgar, painted everything white in Edgar's mother's room, imitating Syrie Maugham. His mother only asked, "Did you even paint all my Baccarat perfume bottles?" Denning never used white again.

Denning & Fourcade

Starting in 1960, Denning and Vincent Fourcade formed the interior design firm "Denning & Fourcade." The company became known for its colorful extravagance and excessive design. Their clients included Michel David-Weill, the Ogden Phipps family, Henry Kravis, Charles and Jayne Wrightsman, Oscar de la Renta, Diana Ross, and others. For 30 years, the firm successfully operated on both sides of the Atlantic.

The "Odd Couple" and Career Success

Denning and Fourcade were often seen as an "odd couple," with Denning being the practical and hardworking one, while Fourcade had a knack for understanding clients. The company adopted avant-garde elements from Middle Eastern art, which jewelry designer Kenneth Jay Lane used in his work. Denning took on the design of Jason Epstein's home in SoHo, where the first unified New York City Police Department was located.

Solo Career and Recognition

After Fourcade's death from AIDS in 1992, Denning had to redefine himself. He focused less on furniture and more on helping his clients decorate their children and grandchildren's homes, emphasizing aesthetics and comfort. Denning was featured in Architectural Digest's "AD100" list of top interior designers and ranked among the "Top 100 Architects and Designers in New York" by The New York Times Magazine. He was also recognized in the article "Who Did That" as one of the 15 interior designers who achieved celebrity status.

Later Years and Legacy

In his later years, Denning returned to the 19th century with the help of new technologies. He dedicated himself to creating luxurious furniture, blending various international styles. Denning actively participated in charitable events, including an auction for the organization "Friends in Deed," which supports individuals with cancer and AIDS. He contributed to the restoration of William Goadby Loew's 50-room mansion for the Smithers Alcoholism Treatment and Education Center.

Denning grew tired of Paris in his last ten years and gave up his shared home with Fourcade. He found contentment in his familiar surroundings at his home and office in the Lombardy Hotel in New York, where he also designed the restaurant and foyer. Robert Denning passed away in his New York City apartment on August 26, 2005. His personal estate was auctioned at Doyle New York on May 17, 2006.