Millicent Furniture and Emily Henry Interiors
I was born in Taos, New Mexico and raised on the Rainbow Commune during the late 60s and early 70s. My father was a modernist architect and inventor—very involved with alternative energy solutions. My mother was an artist and homemaker. My upbringing was intensely creative and freestyle, while traditional for Taos’ standards: we ate meat and sat down to dinner every night as a family. Though my father could be a strict disciplinarian, my childhood was uninhibited and full of adventure. Many days were spent riding my Yamaha 70 on Pueblo land gathering arrowheads and potsherds and exploring the haunted and mysterious back roads of Taos.
We lived on the Mabel Dodge Luhan compound and my parents’ friends were mostly artists, writers and old-timer “Taoseños.” Many of these people were highly accomplished, well travelled, and well educated in their pre-Taos lives. They were gifted, intensely eccentric and dramatic people. Taos offered refuge to live outside the expectations and constraints of conventional standards. Sometimes disturbingly tragic, other times hilariously funny, their stories are memorable tales of frivolity and atypical behavior. Kenny Price, Larry Bell, Dennis Hopper, Andrew Dasburg, Arturo Ramos (Millicent Rogers’ son) and their families were part of this bunch.
My father made me an adobe style dollhouse. I obsessively decorated it with small pots and mini Navajos I bought from vendors at the Pueblo, and hand painted furniture I scavenged at Saturday morning yard sales. There were no dolls in my dollhouse, and as far I was concerned, it was for display purposes only.
By the time I left for Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, I was completely over my moody hometown. By contrast, I appreciated the Midwest’s organization and predictability. I relished that I could move beyond my childhood experience of “cleaning” our family’s unfinished hippie house with a staple gun and belt sander. I aspired for an “ordinary” life.
After living in Los Angeles and Pittsburgh, I married a lawyer, set up a home in Santa Fe, and had two children. I worked at a design firm for a few years before going out on my own in 2002. As a young designer, I avoided risks and was conservative with my choices. I had very little interest in exposing clients to my upbringing. The Taos aesthetic can be difficult to explain and translate, so I left it alone.
Eventually, Taos’ gravitational pull became too strong to resist. Seven years ago I found myself deeply dissatisfied and needed a change. This was an opportunity to dig in, start peeling away the onion, and reevaluate my life. A jackpot of this inward journey was a newfound acceptance and appreciation for my history, and what I needed all along was to look back.
My passage inspired Millicent furniture; visions that honor Taos’ past with designs that are undoubtedly old school, but curiously forward thinking. Millicent celebrates the extraordinary spirit of Taos with elevated handcraft, unique style and plenty of good humor.
Emily is very excited to participate in Show House Santa Fe 2015. The theme this year, “Re-inventing Western Classics” is right up her alley. New Mexico’s strong tradition of woodcraft will be the focus of her bedroom. She will be using pieces from Millicent and Westwink Furniture, two local fabricators that honor the spirit of the Southwest while being fresh and accessible to modern sensibilities. Ethnic textiles will complete the look, making this hideaway cheerful and vibrant.