Jackson Hole, WY – WRJ Design, a Jackson Hole-based firm known for creating stunning interiors as well as for remarkable exhibitions of legendary personal collections, is designing an auction preview for Sotheby’s New York focused on the rarified English book and art-filled estate of late financier Robert S Pirie. Described by Sotheby’s as “the finest collection of 16th- and 17th-century English literature in private hands,” the Pirie materials include significant works by Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson and John Donne among others. The WRJ-designed exhibition is set to open at Sotheby’s on Nov. 27, 2015, with the auction to follow Dec. 2-5. The estate, including roughly 1,500 books, is expected to fetch more than $15 million.
“We are recreating the spirit and aesthetic of the Pirie collection and interiors,” says Rush Jenkins, CEO and owner of WRJ Design with COO Klaus Baer, of the upcoming Sotheby’s show. The WRJ team’s expertise will go toward highlighting Pirie’s extraordinary books, which include the first collected edition of Shakespeare’s poems from 1640, one of the rarest editions of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, and Charles I’s personal copy of the King James Bible. “Working with Sotheby’s to design an exhibit that captures the passion of Mr. Pirie combined with the intellectual writings of these great historical authors is an honor and pleasure,” adds Jenkins.
Robert S Pirie spent some 60 years amassing his unparalleled examples of Elizabethan English literature, beginning with a copy of John Donne Devotions acquired when the young Pirie was in Germany while serving in the US Army. Donne was an initial focus of Pirie’s collection, which also includes one of 38 autograph letters from Donne in existence – one of only three in private hands. In addition to his world-renowned literary collection, the Pirie estate includes an extensive range of prints, drawings, English silver, French porcelain and Asian art that will also figure into WRJ’s auction preview.
WRJ has designed more than 40 exhibitions for Sotheby’s, including such recognizable names as Laurance Rockefeller, Katharine Hepburn, Brooke Astor, Bill Blass and “Property from the Collection of Mrs. Paul Mellon.” Most recently, the firm designed a Sotheby’s exhibit of important Dutch and Flemish Old Masters from the Weldon Collection that a Wall Street Journal article likened to a “Metropolitan Museum of Art blockbuster.” Still, “every collection is different and what we design reflects the unique character of that collection and the individuals who cultivated it,” says Jenkins, who, before founding WRJ with Baer, was Director of Design for Sotheby’s New York.
WRJ Design is known for creating interiors that impart a sense of elegance, harmony and peace through subtly layered textures and muted color palettes inspired by the firm’s Jackson Hole setting. A hallmark of the WRJ approach is the way interiors “are revealed like a story, with some mystery,” says Jenkins, comparing that experience to the unfolding beauty of the team’s beloved Teton Mountains surroundings. That same sense of discovery is integral to WRJ exhibitions, where “the architecture aids in the exploration,” says Jenkins. “You don’t see the entire exhibit all at once – each theme … unfolds as a chapter.”Headquartered in Jackson, Wyoming, WRJ Design imparts the special serenity of its local Teton landscape to interior designs in Jackson Hole and across the country. Begun out of a passion for great design by Rush Jenkins and Klaus Baer, WRJ creates experiences and environments through its designs, whether for interiors or exhibitions, that provide timeless reflections of the owners or collectors. WRJ’s exhibition designs for titans of philanthropy, fashion, music and politics offer insight into the lives of these luminaries as they showcase the objects they loved. For more information visit www.wrjdesign.com.