Jun 23, 2016

Putting on the Ritz

written by Bruce Andrews
The Proust Salon at Hotel Ritz in Paris.
Thierry Despont in his artist's studio.

Thierry Despont in his artist’s studio.

There is a reason the “Little Black Book” guarded by some is more deserving of the protection than most others. I would say the cache of contacts cataloged by Thierry Despont would merit the highest level of safekeeping, as he has designed homes for the likes of Bill and Melinda Gates and Calvin Klein; his past projects include the Palm Court at the Plaza Hotel and the Woolworth Building in New York City; and his reimagining of the Hôtel Ritz Paris has recently debuted to ample applause.

 

Thierry Despont

Putting on the Ritz

Hotel Ritz on Place Vendome

The night-lit façade of the Hotel Ritz on Place Vendome in Paris.

 

Nestled like a Belle Époche gem along the perimeter of the Place Vendôme, the hotel’s new interiors feature some quintessential Thierry Despont moves, including spaces that reflect the era in which they were originally born. A number of suites named after former illustrious guests—think Coco Chanel, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Elton John and Marcel Proust—ooze celebrity-worthy glamour. It’s no wonder the hotelier chose the Limoges native for the update, as he is known for a holistic approach to design that sets him apart.

 

Coco Chanel Suite at Hotel Ritz Paris

The Coco Chanel Suite at the Hotel Ritz Paris, newly reopened after a renovation.

 

How particular is he when he undertakes projects as historically significant as the Ritz? Vanity Fair declares the French-born, New York-based architect-designer is in a league of his own for seamlessly marrying architecture with interior design in his projects. His path to success reads like the director’s cut for a film in which all design professionals dream of being cast in the leading role. After graduating from the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, Thierry earned his master’s degree in city planning and urban design from Harvard. The latter resulted in a stint in Tehran working for Llewelyn-Davies on a master plan for the city center, the project commissioned by the Shah of Iran.

 

A Film-Worthy Path to Success

The Woolworth Tower in New York City

The Woolworth Tower is being turned into residences designed by Thierry Despont.

 

This association served him well, as Marietta Tree, a former partner in the architectural/urban-planning firm, added some of the earliest consequential names to Despont’s black book at a critical time—when he was new to New York and opening his own firm (does Annette and Oscar de la Renta ring a bell?). But it would be his appointment as the associate architect for the centennial restoration of the Statue of Liberty that would set his star rising for managing complex projects. Imagine the heft of an undertaking that demanded the skills of more than 400 scientists, engineers, artisans and workers!

 

Claridges London by Thierry Despont on Bruce Andrews Design

Thierry Despont designed the interiors of Claridges in London.

 

Notable commissions followed: the galleries within the Getty Center in Los Angeles, the building conceived by architect Richard Meier; and two London projects—Claridge’s and the flagship Ralph Lauren Polo boutique. Though his commercial commissions represent a storied list of luxury properties, he’s become equally well known for his holistic designs of private residences, melding his architectural and interior design ideas into cohesive expressions of his vision.

 

Attention to Fine Details

The Proust Salon at Hotel Ritz in Paris.

The Proust Salon at Hotel Ritz in Paris.

 

Of the intermingling of these two disciplines, he has remarked that he doesn’t know where one stops and the other begins. This level of cohesion finds him fretting over everything from doorknobs to the master plan. My respect for this attention to detail is immense, as we have a similar discipline of fretting over the furniture we produce at Bruce Andrews Design.

 

The F. Scott Fitzgerald Suite at Hotel Ritz Paris.

The F. Scott Fitzgerald Suite at Hotel Ritz Paris.

 

Equally fascinating to me is his dramatic flair for staging affairs to celebrate his “tribe.” Given how private he is, it’s interesting that he is also known for creating lavish entertainments for his major clients—the exclusive events often staged in architectural masterpieces around the world, such as Villa Rotonda in the Veneto, designed by Palladio; and Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte outside Paris, designed by Louis Le Vau.

 

Chateau Vaux-le-Vicomte on Bruce Andrews Design Journal

Château Vaux-le-Vicomte. Image courtesy WikiMedia and Esther Westerveld.

 

Luxury is Aspirational and Experiential

As we continue to develop the Bruce Andrews Design brand, you can expect the same celebratory efforts for our clientele because, like Thierry Despont, we understand that the truest characteristics behind luxury are aspirational and experiential. There is a vision inherent in achieving opulence that demands an immersion in beauty—a commitment we have fully made.

 

Rolls Royce Hotel Ritz Paris

A Rolls Royce parked in front of the Hotel Ritz Paris.

 

Look for us to produce tapestries of amusement in which our tribe can revel. The video below, produced by the Ritz in celebration of its completed renovation, holds all of the sumptuous delight we hope everyone might have an opportunity to experience at lease once. This is what we’re in the process of actualizing at Bruce Andrews; what are your aspirations for the years to come?

 

 

In looking over the spaces Mr. Despont designed for the Ritz, it strikes me yet again how closely fashion and interiors parallel. Shimmering gold brocade by Prada, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Roberto Cavalli and Dries Van Noten, for example, are cut from the same cloth, so to speak, as the wallpaper in the F. Scott Fitzgerald suite—both on point for 2016’s color forecast. And sumptuous velvet upholstery throughout the hotel calls to mind glowing gowns by Valentino and Fendi, a frock coat by Ralph Lauren, and slim-cut suits by Bottega Veneta and Cavalli. These sensory awarenesses make me want to drop everything and go shopping in Paris.

This post, Putting on the Ritz, © Bruce Andrews Design, all rights reserved. Our furniture is now available through Nandina Home in Aiken, SC; Jalan Jalan in Miami, FL; Travis & Company in ADAC in Atlanta; and the Ellouise Abbott showroom in Dallas, TX. We will soon be showing in the Ellouise Abbott showroom in Houston and in the Michael-Cleary showroom in Chicago, IL.