“Everything here is an extension of my taste,” Patrick Dragonette says while walking through Dragonette Ltd., his ever-evolving Palm Desert showroom and interior design studio. The 5,000-square-foot space on El Paseo provides the designer plenty of room to continue exploring his wide-ranging passions for art and décor, along with his love for the desert.
After more than five years of spending weekends at their Marrakesh Country Club home, Dragonette and his husband, Charles Tucker, relocated full time from Los Angeles last summer. “You see those windmills and your shoulders relax,” Dragonette says. “There really is something about the desert that’s kind of magical.” (They also drew international design media attention to the region when their house appeared on the cover of Architectural Digest Italia’s April 2019 edition.)
The move included a major professional shift, with Dragonette closing his showroom that was situated in the heart of the La Cienega Design Quarter in West Hollywood since 1997. He took on major renovations of the El Paseo storefront, combining what had been a warren of multiple showrooms into a cohesive, white-walled space, while carving out needs for storage, a gallery area to host rotating art exhibitions, kitchen, and studio. Remembering his early days on La Cienega before the street became a major design destination, “I watched that renaissance happen,” he says. “I think I’m going to see the same thing [on El Paseo].” Dragonette Ltd. officially launched in the Palm Desert shopping destination earlier this year.
Dragonette’s deeply personal sensibility and exhaustive design expertise appear starting with two gracious front window vignettes flanking the entrance on El Paseo that he regularly refreshes. “I can’t buy things just to buy them,” he says. “I have to buy them because I love them.” His curatorial eye and passion for the design hunt means a variety is on offer at all scales, from covetable sets of vintage Dorothy Thorpe barware to whimsical and functional Mojave-inspired porcelain creations by design world darlings the Haas Brothers produced with luxury goods company L’Objet. There’s also no shortage of prized antique and new furniture, Dragonette’s own private label collection, photography and art reflecting many styles and eras, and collaborations, such as intricate orb lamps made by ceramicist Titia Estes.
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“This is my midcentury: Billy Haines,” he says, pointing to an upholstered chair in a green botanical inspired pattern that’s one of the many pieces by the legendary L.A. designer William “Billy” Haines, about whom Dragonette is particularly ardent. As for the desert’s signature style, he explains, midcentury modern “has never been my aesthetic. That’s not to say I wouldn’t have a piece or two that appeals to me, but it’s just not my focus. I’ve always been more interested in the decorative, soft modern.”
Names of leading 20th-century design figures roll off Dragonette tongue as he identifies items of particular interest. In addition to Haines, work by T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings, Tommi Parzinger, and Paul T. Frankl make for glamorous visual dialogues when juxtaposed with contemporary goods. And he always has a particular affinity for high–low design challenges, and mixing authentic antiques with new objects. “I love being able to pull it off,” he says. “The trick is if you can’t tell.”
While Dragonette is still getting to know the many nuances of the Coachella Valley market, he says, “I have no intention of sacrificing what I like or how I want things to look, or my taste.” He keeps busy with private interior design clients through his Dragonette Studio arm, too. “My tastes have evolved, thank God. Now, I’m interested in interpolating new product that has integrity, and that speaks to my aesthetic.”
Dragonette’s midcentury: a botanical-inspired chair by William “Billy” Haines.
Antique and new furnishings, photography, and art span many styles and eras.