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Daniel Hakakian grew up around design. His grandfather had a furniture repair shop in Tehran, and in 1990 his family founded ddc in New York, focused on bringing high-end European furniture to America. Now with additional showrooms in Los Angles and Miami, ddc is celebrating over 25 years of a booming family business, currently run by Daniel and his two brothers, Babak and Siamak. Marking that milestone has been the launch of the ddc Archive, a collection of iconic pieces from the likes of Calatrava, Gaudí, Pesce, and Ponti, shown in vignettes that combine design heirlooms with contemporary pieces to express the possibility of mixing past and present for their growing clientele.
WHITEWALL: The ddc Archive officially launched last year. Can you tell us about its beginnings?
DANIEL HAKAKIAN: We started collecting what we believed to be important pieces many, many years ago, just for our own use. As the collection grew, and as our hallmark vignettes began incorporating more of a mix of these pieces alongside the newest offerings, we decided to make select pieces available. The success of that has now expanded into our shopping auctions around the world for pieces to bring back for our clients. It’s another layer of curation that we are able to provide, and I think the customers really appreciate being able to see these pieces in the showroom in a way that mimics how they would actually have it in their homes.
WW: What are some of the standout pieces in the archive?
DH: We were excited to acquire a pair of original Antonio Gaudí curved wooden doors from Casa Batlló in Barcelona, built at the turn of the century. These are absolutely one of a kind and we haven’t found anything remotely comparable from another collector. We also purchased a gold Giò Ponti sculpture, of which there are only two in the world.
WW: You’re building a store within a store that you’ll curate with Massimo Castanga. Can you tell us about the idea of this model apartment?
DH: The main concept of what we are calling Atelier by Massimo Castagna is to create the entire mood and atmosphere of the space, rather than simply to showcase the furniture.
Elements such as the patinaed brass metalwork on architectural bookcases and lighting elevate the entire collection shown within the space. These living areas, alongside a phenomenal new kitchen that shares the same aesthetic, create a singular ambience that we couldn’t have achieved another way.
WW: Why is it important for you to showcase antique and contemporary pieces side by side?
DH: Design trends in both furniture and fashion are constantly recycling, so pieces from the archive, which once may have seemed dated, can suddenly be very current again. We believe that exceptionally good design is timeless and can work together in a seamless way. I also think our clients really value being able to see the items on the floor as they would actually live with them. Not as a showcase from one specific brand, but something that brings together disparate pieces from various time periods to create something uniquely for them. As a company that prides itself on our ability to curate pieces from the best of what the world has to offer, this was the logical next step in that evolution of service.
WW: What are you hoping the experience of seeing rare antiques alongside the latest showroom offerings will be like, or will teach, for customers and clients?
DH: People are always intrigued by these combinations, which not only adds a richness and history to the vignette; it also serves to educate people on some of these incredible pieces that are otherwise only seen at auction, or in museums.
These pieces have such a rich history to them, and in many cases, the patina of age only serves to increase their beauty. I think it inspires the client to get a little more creative with the elements they choose to put together. I don’t think people are afraid of mixing as much as they aren’t sure how to proceed. I believe the lines between what constitutes art, design, or furniture are continuously blurring, pushing the boundaries of design more and more every year.
This article is published in Whitewall‘s 2017 Design Issue.