A Modern MasterpieceAuthor:Lindsey Shook
In Los Altos, Gary Hutton conjures interiors that exemplify the beauty and ingenuity that sets apart his esteemed firm
Growing up on his grandmother’s apple ranch in Watsonville, California, Gary Hutton of Gary Hutton Design “was always doing crafty stuff,” he recalls, adding with a laugh, “I built a lot of plastic model cars.” But the future interior designer wasn’t content with simply following the manufacturer’s instructions. Hinting at the illustrious career ahead of him, Hutton even decked out the interiors: “You know the little plastic seats? I would cut individual wales of corduroy and glue it on so they were like striped fabric seats.”
Hutton went on to study fine arts at UC Davis and interior design at California College of the Arts. He then held several jobs in the industry, from “a sample boy at Scalamandré fabrics” to managing a showroom. His big break came in the late ’70s while employed at a shop on San Francisco’s Maiden Lane when he was tasked with designing a Union Square restaurant called Today’s. Although the establishment didn’t last, clients came calling and Hutton was propelled to launch his eponymous firm in 1980 (garyhuttondesign.com). A furniture collection that shares his name debuted six years later.
In his nearly four decades in business, Hutton has worked on myriad residential and commercial projects; the latter includes San Francisco’s Museum of Craft and Design. Among his recent undertakings is a Los Altos house that belongs to a semiretired couple in their early sixties. The collaboration with Drew Maran Construction and Jim Miller of Oculus Architecture & Design transformed a colonial-style dwelling into a contemporary showcase.
The homeowners requested a “soft modern” aesthetic, which Hutton interpreted as “clean and modern furniture. They wanted softer colors and interesting textures.” The living room, for example, holds Cor’s sculptural Shrimp chairs, which flank Hutton’s own Martini side table, and Living Divani’s modular Extrasoft sofa in a Donghia mohair. In the master bedroom, Zanotta’s upholstered Ruben bed sits atop a custom Edward Fields wool-and-silk rug. The neutral palette serves as a backdrop for Barbara Vaughn’s Tzami 2 limited-edition archival pigment print.
Hutton worked with Dolby Chadwick Gallery on sourcing the art throughout. And he certainly knows a thing or two about artful homes. One of his best-known clients is arts patron Chara Schreyer. The 2016 book Art House, with words by Alisa Carroll and photography by Matthew Millman, features residences that Hutton designed for Schreyer during their 40-year relationship. (Schreyer is also responsible for Hutton’s first life-size car design: He helped design her Aston Martin, from the carpets to the seat belts to the brake calipers.)
Over the years, ingenious powder rooms have become a signature of Hutton’s firm; the Los Altos project, “where we decided to create something really experiential,” he says, is no exception. The entrance wall, which contains the door, and the opposite wall are mirrored for an “infinity reflection.” A two-way mirror, like the kind used in police interrogation rooms, allows for an oval strip of lighting that appears to float in the space. “We like to research unusual materials or things that aren’t normally used in the decorative world,” Hutton explains. “That’s kind of why I do this—to do things that surprise people and hopefully delights them.” – Anh-Minh Le