PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF GEP DURENBERGER
As Nancy Lancaster once said: 'Fashions are changeable. Taste is in realizing the essence of a place.' In the case of Gep Durenberger, the essence of the place reflects the soul of its creator. What he surrounds himself with is 'a composite of all kinds of dreams and memories collected over the years of travel and living,' as he told Brooke Hayward when profiled for House and Garden (1986).
Gep Durenberger has over the years been revered by a community of designers, academics and tastemakers lucky enough to have been brought into his orbit. He is a knowledgeable dealer and enthusiastic collector rolled into one. Charming, curious and with a delightful sense of style, Gep was launched onto the stage in 1967 when he opened a shop in the Spanish Franciscan mission town of San Juan Capistrano in Southern California under the encouragement of his mentor, Carl Yeakel. In 1971, he bought an old cottage there, originally designed for Edward J. Doheny in 1929, which he dubbed 'Folie Gep'. This was later the scene for his series of decorative arts seminars based on London's esteemed Victoria and Albert Museum program which he attended in 1977. The 'Durenberger Series' at the Decorative Arts Study Center was led by well-known English luminaries/friends including Charles Beresford Clark, Cindy Fletcher (now Lady Shaw Stewart) and Ann and Alan Gore. In response to a swell of enthusiasm, the lecture curriculum was soon broadened to include study trips abroad - focused on the interiors, architecture and gardens of Europe. Back home, house parties bubbled with visits from renowned designer friends including John Saladino, Michael Smith (a former apprentice), Mario Buatta and Suzanne Rheinstein, as well as recognized tastemakers such as Bill Blass and Slim Keith.
Now, Gep has returned to his roots, settled back into the expansive Minnesota farmlands in his great-grandfather's house where Gep was born. This too he has cleverly infused with charm as only Gep can do.
Gep's taste has been variously described as 'welcoming and cozy,' 'unpretentious and comforting' - compliments that he treasures. As modest as he is, one can say the same about the man himself. To quote Brooke Hayward: 'Gep Durenberger does not so much walk into a room as blow into it like a mid-spring gust of wind. As he talks, the air clears and cobwebs scatter'.