Tuesday, June 8

Profile: Freddy Victoria

Freddy Victoria is one of the most innovative (and nicest) people in the fine luxury home furnishings and design business. Grandson of Frederick P. Victoria, founder of Frederick P. Victoria & Son, Inc., he is making a big mark on the world of Decorative Arts and custom made reproductions.

A family company known for dealing in unusual 18th century Western European Decorative Arts, especially those from France, they have a rich and wonderful history. It was during the 1940s that Frederick P. Victoria first began to employ very gifted full time draftsmen to produce full size plans of every unusual piece that came through his doors.

As a young boy in the 1980s, Freddy (grandson and namesake) spent many afternoons at the family business watching cabinet-makers precisely turn a piece of lumber into a work of art. One memorable summer was spent cataloging and organizing his father’s art library. Wall-to-ceiling worth of books, varying from small to enormous leather bound tomes (in several different languages), awaited organization. It was Freddy’s first glimpse into what went into creating the many pieces that he had long taken for granted.

Initially taking a different path from that of his family, Freddy attended the University of Southern California. Earning degrees in Economics and International Relations, punctuated by periods abroad in Tokyo, Florence, and the Middle East, he began working at a macro-economic Wall Street research firm.

With thoughts turning to his family, his father Tony approached him about joining the family firm. “I jumped at the chance,” he recalls, “I was particularly attracted to the design aspect of the firm’s custom work.” Other than summers spent in the workshops of the firm’s old 55th street location, cataloging its design library, he had no formal training in decorative arts.

Looking to gain a greater knowledge and education, he embarked on a yearlong study at Christie’s in London. In London, he was exposed not only to Adams, Chippendale, Soane, Hope; but also the contemporary studios of East London, Spitalfields, The White Cube, The Tate Modern, and the Design Museum. He was particularly interested in the individual craftsmanship of William Morris and industrial designer Christopher Dresser.

Freddy now leads business development for Frederick P. Victoria & Son, Inc., and focuses on the 1200+ design library and craftsmanship for which the firm is well known.

Most recently they completed a custom project for their client Albert Hadley—a grand, king size, four-poster bed based on a designs from their Design Library. Each bedpost is made up of a cluster of 4 faux bamboo trees, with matching faux bamboo molding along the headboard and the bed rails.

It was 20 years ago that Frederick P. Victoria & Son, Inc. last created this particular bed design. The actual fabrication was done in NYC by local craftspeople. The bed was so large, and the posts so tall (about 9.5′ tall), that the only space to accommodate the creation was the communal hallway outside their office. True craftsmanship at its best.

How would you describe your personal style?
Evolving. My influences range from anime to C.R. MacIntosh, Japanese Tea Gardens to Christopher Dresser, pop culture to Brunelleschi – I know there is a theme there, but I’m still figuring out what it is exactly. I guess one general goal of mine would be to find the right style balance between traditional and contemporary so that you end up with something classic, which will stand the test of time.

What is your most prized possession
This is a tough question! I would have to say, that while I don’t have a single specific prized possession, I do have a few heirlooms from both my father’s and mother’s side of the family. Small things really, but most are unique items that just mean a lot to us and we hope to keep in the family.

What is the one thing in life you cannot live without
Well, I have been studying karate since I was a kid and I still manage to train about 2 times a week. Without that I would probably go insane, or at least drive everyone around me insane. I really enjoy being able to tune everything out for an hour or 2 and focus on the training.

Who are your style icons?
While there are some like Steve McQueen and Paul Newman, I would add my grandfather, Frederick, to that list. But I’m also interested by William Morris and Christopher Dresser, who you might not call style icons, but were contemporaries in the same industry and both struggled with the dilemma of craft versus mass appeal, with very different approaches.

Who would you most like to collaborate with on a project?
Well, I would really enjoy creating something with someone that is outside our field. Say, a fashion designer or a jeweler for example. Something like a graphic designer or tattoo artist could be fun too. To mix the two crafts into something unique and special would be exciting.

What books are currently on your bedside table?
Business Cycles by Joseph Schumpeter
Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien
The Scandal of Syrie Maugham by Gerald McKnight
The Triumph of the Baroque by Henry A. Millon

What is your favorite luxury in life?
Definitely traveling. Either on a budget or in the lap of luxury, I love being able to explore new places and cultures. My wife’s family live in Cape Town and I particularly like to go visit them down there.

What is your idea of earthly happiness?
Grilling after a day at the beach. Whether it’s in Long Island or Cape Town, just being making some good food, outside on a fire with cold drinks and with my wife is the best.

Past or present who has most influenced your direction in life?
I bet you hear this a lot, but my parents, Tony and Susan. Stylistically, they are sort of “yin and yang;” one being more whimsical and the other more classic. But from both I have learned the importance of craft and the appeal of uniqueness. Attention to detail and craft are the starting points of the value people place on things. They both have a very well trained eye for style and each is different. I didn’t always understand what they saw in certain pieces, but that has changed and I am learning a bit more each day.

Profile by Ronda Carman


P.Gaye Tapp at Little Augury said...

A great profile!pgt

TSL said...

All I can say is yum all the way around!

Julie at Belle Vivir said...

Love that bed. It has that aristocratic tropical elegance that captivates me.

Susan Adler Sobol said...

My familiarity with the Victoria family began about 30 years ago through the pages of House Beautiful and House & Garden. I must have one of these articles from the 1980's filed away somewhere that has delightful photographs of Freddy and his sister in their parent's exquisite apartment. How wonderful that he is now bringing his own sensibility to the family business. I feel as if I watched this young man grow up. Thank you, Rhonda!

Karena said...

Ronda, great interview, I love the bamboo bed, and his thoughts on collaborations, the mark of one open to change and adventure in design.

Art by Karena

Anne said...

What talent, and that bed is amazing. Thank you for another great profile. Keep them coming.

simone leblanc said...

simply stunning!

MyFavoriteFrenchAntiques said...

What a great creative thinker..to comment how fascinating to perhaps work with a tatoo artist. So open minded!

Jay said...

I agree with My Favorite French Antiques! Also, I love that he names William Morris and Christopher Dresser. Both men did struggle with the dilemma of craft versus mass appeal, and yes - with very different approaches. Bravo Mr. Victoria!

ALL THE BEST said...

Thank you for all of the great comments!

Susan I would love to see a copy! The whole family is just wonderful. I wish them nothing but happiness and success!

Alison said...

Beautiful work. Beautiful profile.

Nancy said...

What is in that hurricane vase?

ALL THE BEST said...

It is an over-scale Louis XIV style hurricane, LED lamp with vintage Japanese porcelain flower buds!! You can see more photos on their website.

Unknown said...

Are the bed posts crafted of bamboo? Very cool!

Alan Dailey said...

Ronda, You have done a great job with this blog. Keep it up!

ALL THE BEST said...

Thank you Alan. That means a great deal to me.
All the best,

mary said...

A renaissance man? But with touches of simplicity and humility. Great interview. Thanks so much, Rhonda. I always learn volumes from your interviews.

Freddy Victoria said...

Thank you all for your kind comments. Susan - yours was especially fun! It prompted Tony to dig around our old press files and I believe we found the H&G article you mentioned. A blast from the past - we sent it to Ronda to have a look.

Thank you all very much for such a nice response!


Diane Dorrans Saeks said...

Good Morning, Ronda-

This is a wonderful feature. Chic!
I love to see Albert Hadley's new work. What a fortunate client. The bed is divine.
Victoria is such a nice guy...and his background is impeccable.
Bravo to you.

P.Gaye Tapp at Little Augury said...

Ronda- I have a bedroom from that HG piece I think, it is still in my file for one of those perfect rooms I loved-and still do! Blue walls, quilt in white red, just the perfect feel. Let me know before you post it if you do-I would love to do a link to it. The other rooms were a sort of pink peach gorgeous too-with a Christmas tree. pgt