Bravo, Myra Hoefer, for your chic and witty new furniture and lighting collection. I want them all.
Interior designer Myra Hoefer has a talent for making her fantasies come true. First she spent years designing astonishingly chic apartments for the Chez Vous apartment company in Paris.
Now she is launching her A La Reine furniture and lighting collection, all handcrafted in Vietnam by top craftsmen under the direction of a French design colleague of Myra’s. But first, let’s see how this dream of re-creating French-style furniture evolved. The story starts in Paris.
“I always dreamed of living and working in Paris, and a dozen years ago I worked first on the design of a friend’s apartment on avenue Beaumarchais, and then apartments all over Paris for Chez Vous,” said Hoefer.
Many of these glorious apartments were photographed by Deidi von Schaewen and published in the super-best-seller ‘Paris Style’, an Icon book by Taschen. I worked closely with Myra and Deidi on the Paris photography projects for this must-have style book. An apartment designed by Myra is on the cover of the book (shown here). The white-painted chairs and chic furniture captured in that cover shot are directly related to the A La Reine collection.
From her antiques-filled studio and small apartment on quiet rue des Tournelles in the Marais, Myra acquired antiques for her clients, and researched and sourced fabrics, furniture and accessories and worked with skilled craftsmen to make furniture and lighting. The idea of launching her furniture collection began. Her first pieces include a super-charming ‘goat leg’ bench, a ‘knot’ tabouret, and a handsome shell chandelier. Each is hand-carved and hand-lacquered.
Tabouret Chevre (goat bench)
Hand carved acacia wood goat legs, upholstered in Charolais white hair hide
21"H x 36"W x 17.75"D
Iron frame, white finish, hand strung shells. All hand-assembled and crafted. Center electrical with candles.
42"H x 37"D
Hand carved acacia wood rope with Charolais white hair hide.
21"H x 15"W
Eggshell lacquered box
Special traditional hand-crafted technique
14"W x 5"D x 7.5"H
Classic handcrafted ceramic Jardinière
in powder white antique glaze finish
37"H x 27"W
This selection from the collection A la Reine by Myra is available through Myra Hoefer Design. On display at the showroom, Myra Hoefer Design, 309 Healdsburg Avenue in Healdsburg, California, or call MHD's office (707) 433-7837. Website www.myrahoeferdesign.com.
“It's a very busy schedule in Paris,” said Hoefer. “It was never one of those “stroll along the Champs-Elysees” kind of Paris trips. I worked until late each night, finding new resources, perfecting new designs, seeking out the best furniture makers.”
She kept an apartment in a handsome 18th-century building which surrounds a cobblestone courtyard and grand porte-cochere. She studied French style, French life, la vie Parisienne. She became a connoisseur of the finer aspects of French design, and French design history.
“My first apartment in Paris was in the former hayloft above stables,” said Hoefer. “I painted the walls a pale off-white color (called blanc casse in French), covered the floors in sea grass, and then found antique dining chairs, relaxed old armchairs, a big farmhouse dining table. It was French, updated, and given a casual California easy-breezy feeling. I loved it.”
It’s an art to juggle Paris style and California sensibilities, and Hoefer found a balance and her focus. She infuses California rooms with exquisite French detail—but at home the rooms are not so precious that her grandchildren or her lively Jack Russell terriers are afraid to enter. Several of her interiors are in my books. Her Healdburg house is in ‘California Country Style’ published by Chronicle Books.
Gilt-edged, in the living room of her Healdsburg house, decorator Myra Hoefer displays her love of contrast--and a splash of gold. On an Italian console table she arrayed a French handcrafted lamp with a parchment shade. The mirror and carnival mask are Venetian. The ceramic stove is Dutch. A pair of Paris salon-style chairs is covered in pale taupe linen velvet.
“There’s a misconception that French design is up-tight and overly formal,” said Hoefer. “In fact, stylish French people live very comfortable lives with family heirlooms, new sofas and tables, flea market treasures, old things, and good art. They dislike that instant “decorated” look, and so do I. Rooms should be polished and well edited but not so predictable. My new furniture follows this credo. The pieces are unexpected and have an antique air.”
Hoefer also has a chic style shop on the plaza in Healdsburg that sells highly original collections of French antiques, contemporary sculptures, glamorous tableware, iron daybeds and a revolving door of Provencal props and rare Parisian décor.
A vignette from Myra Hoefer Design shows the white-painted furniture she loves—and the French influence that inspired her new furniture collection, A La Reine.
Her new A La Reine collection was directly inspired by her French life.
“In my daily rounds in Paris, I would see quirky painted antiques combined with simple functional sea grass matting, or voluptuous silk taffeta draperies and delicate Louis XVI-style painted chairs mixed with rustic iron chandeliers for Parisian panache,” said Hoefer, who is originally from Vancouver. “I’ve incorporated those lessons in my décor. I play with all kinds of contrasts in design for California houses. It’s the surprise, that juxtaposition of old with new, rough against smooth, or rustic with refined, that give design an edge. It becomes less precious and uptight. It makes a room more modern, not a period piece.”
Paris apartments by Myra Hoefer were given a ‘California fresh air’ treatment, with natural linen slipcovers, pale but cheerful colors, and lots of sunshine and open windows. Myra’s work in Paris, decorating eighteenth-century apartments, inspired her chic and lovely new furniture and lighting collection.
Hoefer’s Healdsburg, California, house is her homage to Paris. Pristine white linens and pewter candlesticks with lavish silk taffeta draperies, simple seagrass matting, and dog-friendly silken slipper chairs.
Perfectly at home with her provincial French work table and American pine cabinet are a Portuguese-style table, an Italian rococo console flecked with gold, and lavish landscapes. The new A La Reine pieces fit right in.
"My furniture designs and my interiors are energized by both Paris and California," said Hoofer, whose daughters Gina Gattuso and Lisa North work for her design company, Myra Hoefer Design. "Visits to Paris always inspired my design eye. Paris and the South of France are a constant education. The classic architecture, the tonalities and textures of limestone, the playful and elegant decor, the richness of French design history, all enrich my design education. I find vintage fabrics for pillows, or discover new chandelier designs or a lamp-maker. I love it. Now I am pouring those ideas into my new furniture, lighting and collection."
More furniture and accessories designs for A La Reine are in the works.
It’s a bold and imaginative move—and I can’t wait to see the new carved wood ‘topiaries’, and elegant glazed ceramics, the eggshells boxes and carved and painted furniture yet to come.
Bravo, Myra. I wish you great good fortune with A La Reine.
A room designed by Myra Hoefer for the San Francisco Decorator Showcase 2009 demonstrated the color tonalities she loved: taupe, grey, and greige, with splashes of white plaster and paint.
All product photography by Myra Hoefer and Myra Hoefer Design, used with permission.
A selection of Myra Hoefer-designed rooms include the pale lichen-walled and silk-curtained Ivy House, Myra Hoefer’s residence in Healdsburg, photographed by David Livingston, San Francisco. Paris apartments were photographed by Deidi von Schaewen, Paris. Used with express permission.
San Francisco Decorator Showcase 2009 room and vignette with white table photographed by Myra Hoefer Design, used with permission.