When Michael Dawkins says, “I’m not into gratuitous detailing,” it’s an understatement. Like the interiors he designs, his elegant furniture is seriously pared down to the essentials. Serving as a side table, a thick chunk of clear acrylic hovers over an angular nickel frame; an armchair’s upholstery is so formfitting it might be shrink-wrapped.
In the context of his soothing signature palette of whites and grays accented with black, an infusion of color would seem like overkill, while his use of pattern is strategic. It’s structural when a table base resolves itself into a Greek meander motif, and integrated when rows of tailored seams on a tight slipcover give a chair back more stature. Above: A custom handblown-glass chandelier by Dawkins in a home in Miami Beach.
Dawkins, who has lived in New York for most of his life, studied industrial design and architecture in Detroit, his hometown. His first apartment there, in Lafayette Park, was conceived by Mies van der Rohe, and its classic proportions left a lasting impression. “It was so well thought through,” remembers Dawkins. “It was satisfying to inhale that type of architectural austerity, and it set me on a minimalist path. For a long time I was drawn to stark spaces and severe lines, but as I began to travel and absorb other cultures my aesthetic broadened into something more nuanced and layered.” Above: An 18th-century Italian mirror in an apartment in Manhattan.
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