Kneedler Fauchère was born in 1948 when two entrepreneurial friends, American Dorothy Kneedler and Frenchwoman Lucienne Fauchère, began importing wallcoverings from Asia. With the arrival of designer Harry Lawenda, the San Francisco company emerged as a forerunner of the multi-line showroom concept. Kneedler Fauchère celebrates its 75th anniversary, still rooted in San Francisco, with its galleries reflecting its global origins through an international community of makers. We talk with Gina DeWitt, President of Kneedler Fauchère Showrooms, and Michael Pittman, Vice-President of Showrooms, to learn about what’s new—but also what endures.
(Clockwise from left) Collections by Ironies, HOLLYHUNT, and Gregorius Pineo.
There’s a wonderful quote in the Kneedler Fauchère history that says of Dorothy, Lucienne, and Harry, “They weren’t just business owners—they were forces of progress, growth, and positivity…” How has the company maintained those values? What keeps you going forward?
They found their happiness and key to success in bringing everyone together—makers, interior designers, and showroom teams. They understood that all three were interconnected and needed each other to thrive. Today it is those same relationships that push us forward—we continue to build the positivity and growth that have sustained us for 75 years. A recent expansion of that focus has been the nurturing of emerging professionals. Along with student tours and educational lectures, we launched a scholarship fund honoring our late colleague Rocky LaFleur that sends three students to Paris Deco Off every January, or that assists with tuition. Rocky believed, as do we, that exploring new places and being exposed to the creativity of other cultures is essential to personal and professional development.
“They found their happiness and key to success in bringing everyone together—makers, interior designers, and showroom teams. They understood that all three were interconnected and needed each other to thrive.”
What do you think Lucienne, Dorothy, and Harry might think of the business today?
We have a feeling they’d be surprised to see just how global we are now! But truly, if they could visit us for one day, we think they’d be pleased to see what has, and hasn’t, changed. What hasn’t changed is the appreciation for true, handcrafted design and our culture of community-building. What has changed is obviously technology. We built our own CRM system a few years ago and we think they’d be very interested in how differently our showrooms operate in a digital world.
Would you share a few collections representing the traditions found in the showrooms?
We’ve watched Nobilis, a partner for more than two decades, evolve as the brand passed from father to son, while keeping true to its French heritage. In the last decade, Dedar changed from just having an American distributor to setting up a showroom in Manhattan. Since then, their designs and the attention they’ve paid to the US market have made them even more relevant. Pierre Frey shows culture and history in their textiles like no other line, and those stories resonate with designers. From fabrics reaching back to the time of Marie Antoinette to fun, contemporary patterns inspired by international cultures, Pierre Frey is an education in the power of creation. Overgaard & Dyrman is a small Danish artisan workroom that creates pieces of the highest quality, and their Scandinavian approach is something we’ve not had before.
Work by Danish studio Overgaard & Dyrman, Italian textile makers Dedar, and Parisian house Nobilis.
What do you look for in new artisans or collections to represent?
We seek out makers who are designing and creating pieces that are authentic and personal. It’s important that we’re meeting with all types of artisans too, so we don’t miss an opportunity. We find them during our annual travels to Paris Deco Off, Milan Design Week, New York, and even right in our own backyard. If it’s beautifully made and has a story to tell, we know our customers will respond positively.