"I am a collector. Deb is a collector," says interior designer Michael Hoskins of Hubbuch & Co. about himself and his wife of 31 years. "I am aware I am a very complicated person with lots of interests." Possibly this explains his choice of design for their St. Matthews two-bedroom, two-bath condominium. It is filled from top to bottom, side to side, and every space in between with the most beautiful collections of antique furniture and accessories: English porcelain, miniature porcelain, needlework, brass chimney pieces, antique prints, antique wood carvings, and Beatrix Potter figurines. Most beautiful and personal of all are the needlepoint pillows, chairs, and picture frames which Deb Hoskins stitches.
Every piece of art, every piece of porcelain, and every antique fabric has a story. It is these stories that tell the life of Michael and Deb Hoskins traveling the world together searching for yet another special work of art, if not for themselves then for Hoskins's clients.
Over the last 31 years, Hoskins has melded together his interior design career with his lifelong passion for history. "Historical things are very interesting to Michael," says Deb Hoskins.
Michael Hoskins explains the importance of understanding history in relation to design. "Everything was a reaction to everything else," he says. "It's a reaction of what was going on at the time and historical perspective gives you creditability that you know where you are coming from." He also feels that part of his work as a designer is to teach his clients history and good taste, not just create a pretty room. Michael Hoskins fills his appetite for history by reading. The last book he read was "The Land of the Firebirds: The Beauty of Old Russia", by Suzanne Massie, a history of Russia, one of his favorite subjects. Next on his list is a new biography of Marie Antoinette, his other favorite subject being French history. "He is extremely intelligent and his memory is phenomenal," says Deb Hoskins. In
fact Michael started attending classes at the University of Louisville when he was a junior in high school. He has two degrees, one in English and one in design along with minor degrees, in fine arts and in humanities.
Many of the books Michael Hoskins reads serve as inspiration for travel destinations. The couple has been to Russia to see the Winter Palace and to France to visit the Palace of Versailles where Marie Antoinette once resided.
Along with the thrill of seeing history up close and personal, Michael Hoskins also gets a thrill seeing the interior design of that time. For instance, Michael tells the story of a gentleman who was looking in a junk shop in New York City and found a bedspread he suspected was of great significance. He went back to his office and looked up some old prints in a book confirming his suspicions. Running back to the junk shop he bought the original 18th century bedspread that once belonged to Marie Antoinette for $12,000 and returned it to Versailles. While the Hoskins were visiting Versailles they got a chance to see the original bedspread on Marie Antoinette's bed that somehow found its way across the Atlantic, into an old junk shop, and back again to the Palace.
Wondering if Michael Hoskins had ever found such a treasure himself, he replied, "Oh no, not that good." However, he does tell the story of his connection to the book, "In the Garden of Good and Evil", a murder mystery by John Berendt, that takes place in Savannah, Georgia involving the very wealthy renowned antique dealer and socialite Jim Williams. Pointing to the wall: "That bracket on the wall holding a piece of porcelain is part of an old wall clock dating from 1810-1820 that came from the Mercer house once owned by Jim Williams," Michael Hoskins says. An antique dealer from Louisville who knew Williams sold it to Michael. Apparently Williams had lost the part of the wall clock that sat on the bracket so it was of no use to him. As it turned out, Michael Hoskins got a call two weeks later from the dealer asking to buy back the
bracket. Williams had found the rest of the clock and needed the bracket to hang it back on the wall. Michael Hoskins replied, "No, I think I'm going to keep it." Excitedly Michael Hoskins says, "That's how we have a connection to "In the Garden of Good and Evil".
Not only does Michael Hoskins appreciate provenance but also suggests that there is a price for living with fine antiques. He says, "You're also accepting a lot of responsibility, to take care of these things." For him it is well worth it. "It's a wonderful way to live. It all feels good and looks good."
Michael Hoskins' design talent isn't just picking out beautiful things but knowing how to place them. "It's attention to detail. It never stops," he says. With a sweep of his arm around his living room, he says, "This could be chaotic. There're lots of people who could have this amount of stuff and it could just look topsy turvey, but this is all very structured."