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TXDW Dallas — Blackman Cruz Celebrates 30 Years

Get Tickets to Hear This Fabulous Design Duo at Texas Design Week Dallas

BY // 10.05.23

Adam Blackman and David Cruz will center an illustrated talk, cocktails and a book signing at Texas Design Week Dallas. For more information and tickets, go to TexasDesignWeek.com.

Adam Blackman and David Cruz’s new book, Beauty & Mischief: The Design Alchemy of Blackman Cruz (Cameron Books), showcases the daring style that has made it one of the most influential design showrooms in America. The beautifully photographed and written book, penned with Los Angeles author Stacie Stukin, also shows off  their private homes.

The Blackman Cruz story story began in 1993, with the opening of their first showroom on La Cienega Boulevard. According to the book, established antiques dealers in the area referred to them as “the junk store on the corner.”

Despite the initial snub, Blackman Cruz quickly developed a following among top interior designers, art world professionals and celebrities who were drawn to the eccentric mix of industrial pieces and curiosities, along with European and American furnishings. The store was known for its Friday-night speakeasies, extravagant window displays and macabre collections of mug shots, coffin carts and embalming slabs. All improbably balanced by rare pieces by Frank Lloyd Wright, Jean Prouvé and Arturo Pani.

In 2007, the showroom moved to Highland Avenue in a building once occupied by the storied gay disco Probe, where it has remained. The new space allowed for greater creativity, including the creation of exquisitely styled environments as a way to display Adam Blackman and David Cruz’s  unusual and provocative wares.

If Blackman Cruz’s macabre-chic aesthetic was years ahead of its time, so were those environments, which spanned a variety of centuries and design styles. Interspersed between sumptuously styled vignettes of pre-Columbian Mesoamerica and 1950s Italy, you might stumble across a pair of French 19th-century mirrored brothel chairs or a sculptural display of antique barbells.

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It’s an exquisite push-pull, attributed to the co-owners’ fundamental differences in tastes and backgrounds. 

A Blackman Cruz environment with rare Carlo Bugatti carved furniture, including a settee from the estate of Marchesa Luisa Casat (Photo by David Ross)
A Blackman Cruz environment with rare Carlo Bugatti carved furniture, including a settee from the estate of Marchesa Luisa Casat (Photo by David Ross)

Adam Blackman started his career in theater. He has a flair for the dramatic and a penchant for 19th-century animal automatons made in Paris by Roullet & Decamps. The obsession has evolved into a vast and charming collection of mechanical monkeys, pigs, polar bears, cats, tigers and elephants. He travels across the country and abroad in search of things he’s never seen before, like a 19th-century ceremonial paddle from the Austral Islands in French Polynesia and rustic cabinets fashioned from tree-trunk slabs retrieved from a château in the French Alps.

Once, when Blackman returned with a commercial clock face rescued from the 1905 Stewart-Warner factory in Chicago, a hole had to be cut in the ceiling to accommodate its 14-foot circumference. 

David Cruz’s affection for travel, history and refined design helped build the showroom’s sophistication. Over the years, he has acquired pieces by Paul T. Frankl, Billy Haines, Josef Hoffmann and Walter Gropius, along with a rare collection of Carlo Bugatti furniture from an estate in Mexico City.

Along with creative director Lika Moore, Blackman Cruz has designed and manufactured its own pieces since 1998, including the plaster Primal Lighting collection, which pays homage to French designers and artists from the 1920s and 1930s, and is available to the trade in Dallas at David Sutherland. Over the years, the gallery has represented a raft of talented furniture and lighting artists such as Thierry Jeannot, who makes chandeliers from plastic bottles that look like Venetian glass, and Mike Diaz, whose hand-carved theatrical furniture is inspired by Mexican and Sicilian Baroque design.

Join Adam Blackman and David Cruz Wednesday, November 1, at David Sutherland Showroom from 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm, for an illustrated talk, cocktails, and book signing. For more information and tickets, go to TexasDesignWeek.com.

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Blackman and Cruz will sign Beauty & Mischief: The Design Alchemy of Blackman Cruz (Cameron Books) at Texas Design Week Dallas.

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