Personal Space: William MacKinnon

October 1, 2012

William MacKinnon's Personal Space

Photo credit: Lucas Finlay

 1. A 16th-century church in Valletta was bombed to rubble during World War II, but its chandeliers were mostly saved. Mac­Kinnon procured this example from a private collector in Malta and reassembled the 18th-century cut-crystal specimen working from photos. Nearby: a 17th-century Duchess of Richmond presides over the staircase, an oil painting from the school of Van Dyck that MacKin­non acquired 40 years ago in Scotland.

 2. MacKinnon lives above his by-appointment-only antiques store, the Three Centuries Shop, near Granville Island. (He throws garden parties on the 30-metre-long rooftop, which features a bronze statue of Zeus.) Display space below flows into a private suite via this finely wrought staircase, modelled after one in a Belle Époque "hôtel particular" in Paris, now the Musée Jacquemart-André.

3. MacKinnon says new homeowners from Asia have a special interest in antique clocks—and that’s influenced the focus of his Vancouver store, which he opened in 1993 after a dozen-year run as a hobby/show dealer in Toronto. The original version of this piece, designed by the great cabinetmaker Jean-Henri Riesener, sits in the Louvre; this copy from 1879, says MacKinnon, “has bronze work that’s so fine it’s like jewellery.”

4. Atop the table: unglazed porcelain pieces like this—a hunting scene made by the Sèvres factory in the 19th century—would have been displayed in sets of five. Full sets today sell for a small fortune. MacKinnon picked this one up in Buenos Aires. The adjacent mahogany couch was made in 1795 by the influential furniture artist François-Honoré-Georges Jacob-Desmalter in the Empire style; MacKinnon reupholstered it with silk from France’s Lelièvre.

Get the Newsletter

Own your city with Vancouver’s thrice-weekly scoop on the latest restaurant news, must-shop hotspots and can’t miss events. Rest assured your email is safe with us.