What’s in a name? Peter Dunham plans to find out
Written by Abigail Stone
Throughout his career as an interior designer and textiles designer—and after more than a decade as the proprietor of the beloved Los Angeles showroom Hollywood at Home—Peter Dunham has proven adept at navigating the quickly changing waters of the design world. In 2018, after noticing a dearth of well-designed, well-priced, versatile outdoor furniture, he launched Hollywood at Home Outdoor—his first in-stock line, complete with quick shipping. Now, he’s rechristening it; moving forward, the pieces will be sold under the name Peter Dunham Home.
The rest of his empire will also see a name change: Hollywood at Home will be known as Hollywood at Home by Peter Dunham. “While the going was good, I decided to rename my design company—changing it from Peter Dunham Design to Peter Dunham & Associates—in recognition of the growing talent within my design company,” he tells BOH. “[We’re] just rejiggering [to match] more to where my direction was going.”
It was while traveling the country last fall for the Design Social pop-ups in Nashville and New Orleans that Dunham recognized that while his own name, fortified by a career in the spotlight and the robust sales of Peter Dunham Textiles, had wide recognition, the Hollywood at Home moniker was not well-known outside of Los Angeles. With plans to add indoor pieces to his in-stock selection and distribute it outside of his West Hollywood showroom—perhaps even as soon as the fourth quarter of this year—Dunham and company creative director Orli Ben-Dor felt the time was ripe for a name change.
Certainly things have changed since 2000 when, wrestling with insomnia and inspired by the tradition of designers and mentors like Bunny Williams (Treillage) and Suzanne Rheinstein (Hollyhock), Dunham stumbled upon the name Hollywood at Home. “I thought it was so catchy,” he recalls. “So I bought [the domain name] and paid my $25 and kept on paying every year.” When his company grew out of its original 800 square feet and moved into new digs in 2007—a space just off Robertson Boulevard that had showroom potential—that diligence paid off. “I thought, Why don’t we call it Hollywood at Home?” he says. “Designers [at the time] didn’t necessarily want to shop in another designer’s shop. They might like the vision, but they didn’t want to necessarily take that name back to a client. We were also representing other lines, so it just felt like [it needed] a little more distancing—so it was about them as well as me.”
Thirteen years and four moves later, Dunham sees the business transforming, and he’s quick to adapt to its new rules. “The market, not just the younger customer, wants things that are in stock,” he says. “Lead times are way shorter than they used to be, there’s a downward pressure on prices—and they want free shipping.” While the exact SKUs of the Peter Dunham Home collection have yet to be finalized, they’ll eventually include cocktail and end tables, credenzas, beds and dining chairs. “What’s really good is anything that’s complicated to make,” says Dunham. “Wood, rush, rattan and wicker are really hard to just get right for that one-off client, so we find that those are the things we do really well with.”
The decision to go with the name Peter Dunham Home also aligns the furniture more closely with the designer’s textile line, which he launched in 2003. “I was told long ago that people always know you first through your fabrics, through pattern and color, so it made sense to acknowledge that,” says Dunham. The showrooms that will be carrying the line—Holland & Sherry in San Francisco; James in Houston, Dallas and Austin—are equally enthusiastic. “Peter’s name is strong,” says Daniel Waldron, vice president of Holland & Sherry. “When he came in last year to do a textile presentation, it was one of our most well-attended events.”
In addition to being a big draw, “Peter understands the infrastructure that needs to be in place to create something not just beautiful, but that can also sell,” adds Waldron. “A lot of it is supply chain—keeping things in stock, keeping things moving—which Peter does very well.”
Hunter Ellis, co-founder of the James showrooms in Texas, finds that Dunham has hit all the right notes. “He’s got a very well-run business with a lot of stock and he’s quick with his shipping, so he’s really become a line that people can count on when they need it, which is important,” he says. Hunter’s co-founder and wife, designer Meredith Ellis, agrees: “He’s always been one that I want in our showroom.”