Skilled Craftsmen at Work: Our Renovation Upholsterer

An Ageless Manor Mainstay Carrying On A Lost Art

For decades at The Manor, one man has been responsible for a very specific element of the venue’s décor. Gerd Dagne, an upholsterer trained in the art of design with fabrics, has sewn, assembled, installed, and maintained practically every piece of ornate drapery hung at The Manor and its sister properties for more than 30 years. His talents in this cut & sew craft have stood the test of time, while many others in the profession have not. In an age where labor-intensive craftsmanship has become too costly and attention to hand-made detail is less appreciated, only those with a reputation for quality and skill have flourished.

When The Manor neared completion of its most recent series of extensive renovations, although the amenities had been modernized, the owners and renovation team knew that they wanted to include elements of the interior design that would still tie the venue to an aesthetic of old-world elegance and finery. A natural choice for production of several elements of the decor was Mr. Dagne. The long-valued relationship and his ability to create couture pieces, which are by definition one-of-a-kind that would not be seen anywhere but at The Manor, made for an ideal collaboration.

From the new foyer and lobby to the new bridal suites, Mr. Dagne consulted on choices for the many window treatments and custom-made each piece of drapery to suit each space. Far from a catalog purchase, he transformed bolts of fine, elaborately embellished fabric into beautiful window dressings replete with details that complimented The Manor’s grand décor. Many hours of measuring, selecting, cutting, sewing, matching, and sculpting the pieces into form were invested in each.

But even beyond the extensive drapery work, The Manor also commissioned Mr. Dagne to apply his trade and facility with fabrics to the wall coverings of The Manor’s new upper lobby and Garden Room. Rather than simply painting or papering the fresh new walls, the design team wanted something more—something that would further refine the bright, open spaces and add a more embellished, warm, and regal feeling. Simplicity in the face of cost, time, and effort was not a consideration. With the added acoustical benefit of sound absorption without sacrifice to aesthetics, paneling the walls in fabric was the inspired solution.

Again, Mr. Dagne would invest hours preparing, padding, and fitting fine fabric to the walls to create the inviting effect. With the unique properties of fabric, to ensure its lasting use as a wall covering required an experienced hand and knowledge of how the material behaves. Step-by-step he methodically and meticulously set every piece in place to create a finished look that is nothing short of impressive when seen as a whole. The owners of The Manor have learned through over a half-century in operation that quality endures, and the level of workmanship shows in the finished product. This has certainly been proven true for Mr. Dange’s work as well.

But for Mr. Dagne, it was not a talent learned overnight. He too has over a half-century of experience—his with shears in hand and a sewing machine at his side. Mr. Dagne came to his craft at an early age, honing his skills by apprenticing in Germany where the age-old craft was a valued trade. It was only the destructive events of World War II that brought Mr. Dagne and his European decorating style to America. Here, he soon refined his craft and built a niche for his trade amongst those who appreciated the artistry of his hand-crafted designs. Though well past the age of retirement, his passion for his work keeps him vital and productive, and the dearth of anyone skilled enough in his techniques to take his place has kept him in demand. His is a style of craftsmanship that The Manor embodies and a talent that it is pleased to support.

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