Do you know…Veere Grenney?

By Incbald School,Jacqueline Duncan,January 14, 2019

By Jacqueline Duncan OBE, Dean & Founder.

Interior Design Spotlight Series: Veere Grenney. One of my favourite interior designers, Vere Grenney, keeps a very low profile but does wonderful work.

Veere is a New Zealander who as a young man looked to English designers, notably David Hicks and the Irish wizard Max Clendinning for inspiration. A chance meeting with Michael Raymond in Tangier further inspired him and prompted him to come to London where he was lucky to be welcomed into the studio of Mary Fox Linton.

From Mary, he was headhunted by Colefax and Fowler, and after some twenty years experience in this most venerated of firms, he established his own studio.

It is always interesting for me to listen to the views of eminent designers and to have the pleasure of seeing their work. Talk of Max and David took me back to the fifties when talent abounded, commissions were difficult to find and the editor of House and Garden, Anthony Hunt, tended to rely on the American issue for his articles.   He had little option, given the paucity of work in those post-war years, but since we all took the American issue, we found this duplication extremely irritating and it may well have been the reason that he was replaced by Robert Harling.

American House and Garden in the Fifties were brilliant to our Economy dazed eyes, and we were more than delighted when Conde Nast published the Guide to Interior Decoration in 1960.   It was known colloquially as the Yellow Book and featured the great names of New York decoration, Pahlmann, Kahane, McMillen and so many more. Both David and my then-husband Michael Inchbald were inspired by the new and free approach of the Americans to twentieth-century lifestyle, and both admitted freely to drawing inspiration from the advanced technology and the sharp sense of fashion that they had so clearly mastered.

Harling’s editorship turned to England’s national archive of classicism as source material for the magazine and since John Fowler was the major player in this genre, we witnessed the establishment of the English Style which dominated Interior Design and Decoration for so long. The fact that Mark Hampton took it to New York, giving it a distinctive Big Apple twist, was at once interesting and stimulating to designers internationally.

Veere Greeney came in at a point in time which was exciting in every way, but his elegant interiors are imbued with a distinctive character, inspired perhaps by David and Max, but nevertheless very personal.

There was a moment of déjà-vu for me when he showed me a view of the Claridges penthouse, originally created for Hugh Wontner by Michael Inchbald in the sixties. Interestingly he now lives in the beautiful fishing lodge which David made famous in the sixties, so the circle is completed with another and fresh perspective.

Visit the Veere Grenney website here: