Variations to a Theme


The exhibition, Variations to a Theme: William Haines at Sunnylands, spotlights the custom-made furniture and interior décor that the legendary designer William Haines created for the extraordinary home that Walter and Leonore Annenberg constructed in the Southern California desert between 1963 and 1966.

Along with the Annenbergs, a dream team of Haines, his design partner Ted Graber, architect A. Quincy Jones, and a variety of renowned landscape architects fashioned 200 acres of raw desert scrub into an iconic midcentury modern estate that, to this day, houses the largest extant collection of William Haines furnishings in the world. In his signature Hollywood Regency style, Haines designed and installed more than 450 pieces—cabinets, tables, consoles, chairs, lamps, etc.—for the 25,000-square-foot home.

The exhibition was on view at the Sunnylands Center for the 2023–2024 season.

Who is to say what is good taste what is bad? I don’t know what taste is. It’s like a fog … you can see it and feel it, but you can never touch it.

William Haines
Desert Chat: William Haines Exhibition at Sunnylands

Sandie Newton, host of Desert Chat, tours the William Haines exhibition with Anne Rowe, Sunnylands director of heritage.

Leonore Annenberg, William Haines, Ted Graber, A. Quincy Jones, among others, circa 1963.
The Pink Room features a glazed writing table with canted corners on tapered legs.
Sofa and ledge-back “Seniah” (“Haines” backward) chair with hand-printed sunflower fabric.

Variations to a Theme

The exhibition catalog, Variations to a Theme: William Haines at Sunnylands, was written by Frank Lopez, Sunnylands archivist and librarian, and Anne Rowe, Sunnylands director of heritage. The catalog also contains an informational Q&A with designer Patrick Dragonette, a well-known authority on Haines, who contributed his insights and furnished historical context to the Haines story at Sunnylands. The celebrated photographer David Loftus created
insightful photographs for this catalog, highlighting Haines’ extraordinary designs.

The catalog is available for purchase at the Sunnylands gift shop in store and online.