Suzanne Tucker on living with collections

San Francisco Fall Show Chair Suzanne Tucker is no stranger to incorporating clients’ collections into her design projects. From sourcing the best in antiques, curating classic or contemporary art collections, to finding unusual antique silver or vintage china – it’s all in a day’s work. But when it comes to her own personal collections, during these days of quarantine she is finding great enjoyment in taking a closer look at the evolution of her own assemblage:

Photo by Edward Addeo

“As a dear friend once observed, my house is my decorating “laboratory“ where pieces are brought in, studied and come and go. But there are certain pieces which speak to my heart as they are either family pieces or from the collections of designers and people with great taste whom I have admired. At the risk of dropping names, there are pieces from the Albert Hadley, Sister Parrish, Tony Hail, Tony Duquette, numerous pieces from Michael Taylor, of course, and various pieces from great ladies – Dodie Rosekrans, Elaine McKeon, Bunny Mellon, Diana Dollar Knowles, Pamela Harriman, Brooke Astor, and others. It’s the personal draw for me and their sentimental provenance which wouldn’t be there for someone else. Those pieces will always be staying. That is always my philosophy when collecting: buy what speaks to you – it’s not about trends of what is “hot” at the moment, that is how mistakes are made.”

Photo by Edward Addeo

“Having spent so much more time in my house lately, it hasn’t escaped me that, while not by plan, I seem to have developed a penchant for collecting frogs. I have metal frogs from Thailand greeting me at our front door, a large gilt-bronze frog on a mantle from Tony Duquette’s estate, Chinese ceramic frog planters (ditto Duquette), small toad flower vessels and a bronze frog family I picked up at the Brooke Astor auction a few years ago to name a few. The gilt bronze frog is a rather whimsical yet permanent fixture in my living room and a source of delight whenever it catches my eye. What I loved discovering is that the frog is revered in certain cultures as a symbol of transition, of good luck and abundance. It reminds us that though there are things lost during change, each one is an opportunity to find something better. The frog’s eggs lose the safety of its cluster when it gains mobility as a tadpole. The tadpole ultimately loses its tail but gains legs. And finally, the metamorphosis is complete with the frog’s ability to breathe out of water and live in both environments. At each change, the frog advances to something greater than what it leaves behind. How apt, how hopeful – in these uncertain times… “

Photo by Edward Addeo

“As with my antique cowrie shell snuff boxes, a collection can start small and surprise us as they expand. These shells weren’t something I actively sought but were inspired when a dear family friend died. She lived to a 100, was like a grandmother to me and Tim and I were married at her house. She had three of these cowrie snuffs on a chest of drawers as you entered her living room and I was lucky enough to be the recipient. That was 23 years ago and I have become obsessed with searching for them and adding to the collection whenever I find them. They are now on display on a Chinese lacquer chest as I enter my living room and I am reminded of a dear lady every time I see them.”

Photo by Michal Venera

“My collection of vintage and antique shagreen eyeglass cases and drafting accoutrements has a slightly more pedestrian origin. One great find 35 years ago at the Paris flea market became two, became three and so on. I‘ve developed an eye and become a bit of a snob about the rarer ones with silver mounts and monograms versus the plainer ones. I scour all the art shows and fairs that I attend – and certainly the San Francisco Fall Show has been a great source for some of my additions. I love all the various shades of shagreen and simply pile them in a basket on a coffee table where as a group, they have a charm and decorative appeal of their own. It’s the little things… :)”

by Vera Vandenbosch