Joe Robinson was planning to meet Robert Kime the very week that the legendary English decorator, collector, dealer, and AD100 Hall of Famer passed away in 2022 at the age of 76. “Hearing people talk about him in such an inspirational way, I feel like I missed out enormously,” Robinson, the head of house sales and private collections at Dreweatts, tells AD PRO. However, Kime’s relationship with Dreweatts was longstanding, and the Berkshire auction house has been entrusted with Robert Kime: The Personal Collection—a monumental online sale (think 918 lots in total) spanning across three days beginning October 4.
The harmonious interiors that Kime orchestrated for the likes of King Charles III and Andrew Lloyd Webber captivated with their elegant looks and the calming aura they elicited. His savvy for fusing seemingly contrarian but always inviting elements was profound, and his two abodes—an urban retreat on Warwick Square in London’s Pimlico district and a historic pile in the South of France—were just as thoughtfully layered.
The residences teem with treasures that Kime amassed on his motley sojourns (he was particularly besotted with textiles), and the auction will spotlight hundreds of those of one-of-a-kind items, from Arts and Crafts furniture to Islamic ceramics, offering attendees the coveted chance to behold something that once held great meaning for Kime.
He was “one of those incredibly original and rare interior decorators whose aesthetic was not driven by instantaneous gratification,” says Robinson. Instead he was propelled by intuition, buying what he loved and living with it. The result was the accumulation of a vast and intriguing trove of objects that illuminated cultural traditions.
London interior designer Nina Campbell, who became one of Kime’s good friends following a serendipitous airplane conversation, concurs that his intimate approach to crafting spaces is what made him stand out. “I think what was so great about his taste is that he actually didn’t believe in taste or design,” she says. “You went to his home, and it was comfortable. It didn’t scream at you.” Antiques as precious as 18th-century chairs were meant to be used and enjoyed—never taken too preciously, she shares. “He wore his knowledge lightly and never jammed it down your throat, but you sort of seemed to leave feeling more intelligent than when you had arrived.”
When Robinson walked into Warwick Square for the first time, he was struck by its scale. “It was so impressive, but it had nothing to do with the grandeur; it was the scale of vision for something so livable and beautiful. It was almost a gallery for the objects. The walls, doors, and handles were all so sublimely subtle.”