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industry insider
This maximalist tabletop show enhances an iconic mid-century home
Mar 13, 2018
Melissa Studach

Six designer tables are set at the Hillwood Estate, and it’s no coincidence that there’s a “Marjorie” place card on each. Once home to General Foods heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post, Washington, D.C.’s Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens now showcases the 20th-century socialite’s decorative and fine arts collections.

For its latest exhibition, “The Artistic Table” (on through June 10), the museum opened Post’s elaborate tabletop collection to six interior designers and tastemakers to create inspired settings. It features artful displays by Barry Dixon, Charlotte Moss, Timothy Corrigan, Alex Papachristidis, P. Gaye Tapp, and Josh Hildreth in collaboration with Tony Duquette’s Hutton Wilkinson.

Hillwood Museum
The ‘Tea for Toumanova’ tabletop designed by Josh Hildreth and Hutton Wilkinson for the Hillwood Museum’s ‘Artistic Table’ exhibition; photographer: Erik Kvalsvik

Inspired by Russian prima ballerina Tamara Toumanova, design partners Hildreth and Wilkinson set out to create an elegant champagne affair titled “Tea for Toumanova.” To establish the table setting, they selected Order of St. George porcelain from Post’s collection to honor the dancer’s Russian heritage. Gemstone fabric by Jim Thompson and the museum’s recently acquired Russian Demidov Copper Factory teapot round out the ensemble.

Hillwood Museum
The design pair mixes classic elements, like the museum’s Russian Demidov Copper Factory teapot, with a contemporary Jim Thompson fabric; photographer: Erik Kvalsvik

“The design intent of the Hillwood project was to swirl classic Hutton Wilkinson/Tony Duquette design with some of the more contemporary design elements of Hillwood from the 1950s,” says Hildreth.

Integrating historic wares into contemporary design was at the core of the exhibition, which hopes to blend generational differences in tabletop.

“Small moments of ephemeral beauty provide the kind of positive distraction we need to be drawn back into community,” says Hildreth. “The table is always ultimately about those who are gathered around it, and how we set it can be its own special gift to those we love and care about.”

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