Gypsy Chic With John Hutton

PHOTOGRAPHY HANS FONK | TEXT RAPHAELLE DE STANISLAS

Their lifestyle – expressed in their music and their strong views on how to furnish their caravan interiors – appeals to our imagination. It’s what you might call ‘precursor Versace’: a cheerful combination of colours and materials. Gypsies. The gypsy singer Betcha accompanied OBJEKT©International to a party held by Vetla, his wife Poepa, their children and grandchildren. We were plunged into the world of authentic gypsy caravan interiors.

An authentic gypsy interior enhanced with a creation by John Hutton for Ensemble. Hutton made an enduring impression on furniture design world wide. He was a typical modern gypsy, who demonstrated his designing skills wherever he went. His collaboration with Angelo Donghia, for whom he made, amongst other things, furniture designs, marked the rising of his star. Many of his clients became his close friends – including Ann and David Sutherland, with whom he built up the collections for Sutherland furniture and Perennials fabrics. OBJEKT©International asked David Sutherland to write a tribute to this modern gypsy.

“John was the ultimate gypsy. He was always on his way somewhere or just returning from somewhere exciting. He was always immaculately dressed, usually in linen and always looked perfectly “pressed”. His bags were always heavy and it took forever to get him going in the morning as he was very thoughtful and meticulous in his preparation for the day. He enjoyed conversation and coffee in the mornings as much as he enjoyed his cocktails and conversations late into the night. John never left a city or a town without leaving his glasses, his cell phone, his notes, his passport, his clothes: nothing was immune from being left behind. It was his way of telling us that he would be back Many times we shipped multiple packages of important documents, drawings and specifications to him at multiple locations just to make sure one of them stuck with him for the time necessary for him to ‘work his magic’. His handwritten cards were of images he wanted us to see or subjects that he thought we would enjoy and it was always a treat to receive one. Brenda told me that she once let John out at Laguardia in New York and John realized he didn’t have his passport. While on the pay phone to try to reach her, he saw a passport in the street outside the airport. He ran quite a distance to get to the passport and luckily it was still there, and luckier still that it was his passport! He once tried to tell me how easy it was to reach him on his cell phone. When next I tried there was no answer but when I did finally reach him he told me that he had left ‘that’ cellphone in Moscow! Working with John was always like herding cats and we loved every minute of it.”

The life of gypsies is cloaked in romanticism – a life of travelling, moving around and, especially, partying around big bonfires, to the accompaniment of guitar music, singing and dancing. It runs in their blood, as we discovered at the 71st birthday party held for Vetla, one of the gypsy leaders. He lives with his wife Poepa in a camp on the outskirts of Gerwen, a village in the southern Netherlands. When OBJEKT©Intenational arrived, the bonfires were already burning. As we entered his caravan we were met with a spontaneous song of welcome. Vetla’s children, grandchildren, cousins, in-laws and friends trooped backwards and forwards in a jolly procession. There was an abundance of food and soon varying groups of guitar players were assembled outside, providing a musical setting for the rest of the evening. Everyone here seems to be, and invariably is, related.