Alexa Hampton may have introduced her first furniture collection for Hickory Chair Furniture this spring, but she's really carrying on a family tradition. The collaboration between the 34-year-old daughter of decorating legend Mark Hampton and the American furniture company began when a teenaged (but already working) Alexa tagged along when her father visited the showroom to put the finishing touches on his famed designs for the company.
After her father's death in 1998, she took over his business and continued working on the furniture collection, adding her own designs to the line as need arose. In 2003, Hickory Chair asked Alexa to create her own line of furniture for the company. Now, two years later, the results are in.
Anchored by a strong respect for the past-influences range from the Neoclassical to 18th-century French to Russian-the collection is unified by a set of principles that Alexa repeats like a mantra: scale, proportion, geometry, and composition. "No single piece is representative of the line as a whole," she says. "I embraced classical, traditional design. My goal was to enhance the sense of crispness and geometry that classical design is so well-known for."
She is, however, resolute (and this is where the collaboration with Hickory proves so fruitful) that the piece be made correctly. "The design is not diluted," she says, "when the size is enlarged to accommodate today's lifestyles and also to make the form consistent with the original, and of course it's more comfortable."
Comfort is a theme that resonates throughout the collection-from the diminutive but very comfy "Hubert" slipper chair ("I didn't want my friends to come over for a party and think that they were getting the worst seat in the house") to the sleek "Roberts" sofa (four prototypes were produced before it met Alexa's "lounging test").
She refers to the furniture by name with a sense of fond familiarity that's usually reserved for describing a favorite aunt or admired cousin (many are in fact named for friends and family members). Each piece does seem to have its own character-the "Nadine" side table is cheeky and fun while the "Gallagher" cabinet is regal and judicious.
It's no surprise, then, that when asked which piece she's planning on adding to her own home, she chooses the "Mark" desk, saying a bit wistfully, "I never would have named it for my father if I didn't love it."