Two awards for Sanlorenzo, the Italian yachting excellence

Sanlorenzo, manufacturer of luxury yachts, receives two prestigious awards: Compasso d’Oro 2020 and World Yacht Trophies 2020

The installation Il Mare a Milano, by Studio Neo for Sanlorenzo, at Fuorisalone 2017, wins the Compasso d’Oro Award 2020

Sanlorenzo is a Liguria-based company that, in the Amiglia shipyards, in the province of La Spezia, has built yachts and superyachts since 1958, collaborating with the best designers and architects. Sanlorenzo’s projects are able to meet different tastes, styles and needs. Every model can be personalized depending on the needs and preferences of the owner.

This year, Sanlorenzo has achieved a very important goal, establishing its role as one of the most advanced and successful design companies in the nautical industry. The company has received the world’s oldest and most authoritative design award, the Compasso d’Oro Award 2020, and two awards at the World Yacht Trophies 2020.

Discover Sanlorenzo Superyacht, the paradise of Italian design

Sanlorenzo Yacht wins the Compasso d’Oro Award 2020 with the installation “Il Mare a Milano”

ADI Permanent Design Observatory awarded Sanlorenzo in the “Exhibit Design” category for the interactive installation “Il Mare a Milano”.

Discover all the winners of the Compasso d’Oro Awards 2020

View of the exhibition presented by Sanlorenzo during Fuorisalone 2017, at Triennale di Milano

The installation presented by Sanlorenzo, titled Il Mare a Milano, was made by Studio NEO in the outdoor spaces of Triennale di Milano, during the Fuorisalone 2017. Thanks to interactive images, visitors could dive in the most fascinating and remote seas of the planet. Also on that occasion, Sanlorenzo presented an exhibition inside the Triennale museum. It displayed prototypes, pictures and videos illustrating the brand’s products and some collaborations with famous designers such as Dordoni Architetti, Piero Lissoni, Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel practice.

Discover Sanlorenzo SD96, the yacht designed by Patricia Urquiola

Sanlorenzo, the Italian boutique of yachts and superyachts, wins the World Yacht Trophies 2020

SL96Asymmetric yacht, awarded in the “Best Layout” category at the World Yacht Trophies 2020

Sanlorenzo yachts are synonymous with passion and hard work. Behind their production, there are great manual skills and precision, a work that requires time and dedication, as well as an increasingly sophisticated and advanced design. This year Sanlorenzo has also received two awards at the World Yacht Trophies 2020; one for the innovative SL96Asymmetric yacht, in the “Best Layout” category, and another for the new 44Alloy superyacht, in the “Best Exterior Design” category. Another success is added to the Compasso d’Oro Award for this company that has been able to conquer the international yachting world thanks to customizable concepts increasingly sophisticated and advanced.


Mirai, the installation with 100 colors by Emmanuelle Moureaux

In Tokyo, French designer Emmanuelle Moureaux creates an installation with numbers of 100 different shades of colors

Ph: Daisuke Shima

French designer Emmanuelle Moureaux creates a new installation in the heart of Tokyo's Green Springs district. Mirai, this is the title of the work, consists of 5 columns of 592 large figures. The columns, 4m high, are formed by 100 4-digit numbers, from 2020 to 2119. This choice is not accidental. Mirai, meaning ‘future’ in Japanese, represents the next 100 years in 100 different shades of colors.

Discover the Artist Rooms at Park Hotel in Tokyo here

Ph: Daisuke Shima

The columns that make up the installation are separate to allow children to go through the structure interacting with numbers and colors even from the inside. Moreover, the upper part of the sculpture is horizontally supported by white 4-digit numbers representing past years.

Ph: Daisuke Shima

Emmanuelle Moureaux and "shikiri”, a new colorful design

Emmanuelle Moureaux is a French designer who has lived in Japan since 1996. In Tokyo she opened her practice, emmanuelle moureaux architecture + design. The traditional elements of Japanese architecture and the colors of local nature have influenced her design philosophy and led to the birth of “shikiri”. This Japanese word, literally meaning “to divide space using colors”, describes her way of designing spaces by using colors.

Ph: Daisuke Shima

The “100 colors” project: installations to discover colors and new feelings

In 2013 Emmanuelle Moureaux started the “100 colors” project, a series of installations in 100 different colors. Among them is also Mirai, the installation with numbers recently realized in the heart of Tokyo’s emerging district of Green Springs. In her works, the designer explores the world of colors by using 100 different shades, inviting people to have physical and emotional experiences. According to Moureoux, each shade stirs an emotion, which is different for each person. A new emotion, which can turn their soul on or off, depending on the feelings provoked by the colors.

Discover the Artist Rooms at Park Hotel in Tokyo here

Temporary architecture: Neri & Hu for Camerich at CIFF Shanghai 2020

Chinese company Camerich, after the hall designed by Álvaro Siza at CIFF Shanghai 2019, has recently come back with a new temporary architecture. At CIFF Shanghai 2020, regularly held from 7 to 11 September, despite the global pandemic, Camerich presented “The Sculpted Promenade”, a pavilion designed by Neri & Hu.


Camerich’s set-up is the ideal continuation of the Portuguese Elephant, 2019. Álvaro Siza designed an empty hall where his products and a prototype of the Baiana chair, officially launched this year, were displayed. Neri & Hu draw inspiration from Álvaro Siza’s architecture to design the space for the 2020 exhibition, which reflects on the Baiana chair, the only product showcased at CIFF Shanghai 2020.

Discover the pavilion designed by Álvaro Siza for Camerich at CIFF Shanghai 2019

Baiana chair, by Álvaro Siza for Camerich

To reproduce the spatial relationships that Siza creates in his architecture, Neri & Hu designed a very large open space where the Baiana chair is the protagonist. The main side was like a large square, where people could move freely, sit and talk, as if they were outdoors. People and chairs were the actors of a scene revolving around the chairs, which played the main role.

Temporary architecture: discover the booths at Salone del Mobile 2019

The architecture by Neri & Hu: a stage for Álvaro Siza’s Baiana chair

This large square led to the pavilion behind it, a monolithic solid with horizontal openings like blades of light and small openings to peer inside. The entrance led to a reading room, an ideal space for meditation and silence inside a generally crowded and noisy fair. Finally, the pavilion housed large screens with images of the company. A slightly sloping walkway connected the two ends of the booth, characterized by platforms at different heights. Total black, inside and outside, was interrupted only by the openings placed at different heights.

Temporary architecture: what happens to Serpentine Pavilions?

Neri & Hu (in the middle, wearing sandals, Rossana Hu) with Camerich staff

The windows, inspired by the Chinese concept of “jiejing”, did not want to convey an idea of voyeurism, as would be natural in the West. On the contrary, from the Chinese point of view, they allow passersby to look at the landscape from different angles, just like in a typical Chinese garden. Moving around and inside the pavilion, people could get to know better Camerich, its research and the design of Álvaro Siza.

Discover the pavilion designed by Álvaro Siza for Camerich at CIFF Shanghai 2019

Sir Terence Conran: a life for design

Telling the story of Sir Terence Conran, who passed away on September 12, is a bit like telling the story of the West over the last 70 years, with the evolution of habits and the spread of design in everyday life. On the one hand, Terence Conran’s life represents the story of many people in the aftermath of World War II, on the other hand, it is the story of a special person, who gave a great contribution to design culture, skillfully mixing commercial and cultural activities.


Born in Kingston upon Thames, one of London’s Royal Boroughs, in the Thirties, Terence Conran worked with design and food throughout his life, mixing them in the creation of concept stores, the management of restaurants and the active promotion of culture. He opened stores and restaurants in the UK, New York, France, Japan, Korea (and in Italy, where unfortunately Habitat had a very short life – now it has come back, but with a different owner). He also wrote books, founded museums and in 1983 was appointed “Knight Bachelor”.

In the pictures, the set-up of Habitat Milano in 1997, designed by Ferruccio Laviani (photo courtesy Ferruccio Laviani)


Designing life

His adventure began with a furniture store in Notting Hill and a restaurant, in the early Fifties. The Conran Design Group, the first integrated design studio, dates back to 1956. Here, furniture and interiors were designed and thought about how to sell them. With the group, Terence Conran began producing flat-pack furniture, and, in 1964, opened the first Habitat store, on Fulham Road. In 1966, Habitat opened its second store, on Tottenham Court Road, and in 1973 the first Conran Shop replaced Habitat on Fulham Road. Today, The Conran Shop is still near to the original location: in 1987, it moved to the Michelin building (Bibendum), on the corner of Fulham Road and Sloane Avenue, where it is still located today.

Habitat, Tottenham Court Road, 1966

These addresses are not accidental. On the contrary, they are the ones that marked the beginning of the transformation of the area that, over time, has led to today’s Brompton Cross Quarter, which hosts the Brompton Design District, during the London Design Festival. Because one of Terence Conran’s merits, among others, was a talent for finding spaces and places to revitalize.

The Conran Shop, Michelin building

In addition to design stores, Terence Conran developed a passion for food and started investing in Covent Garden. In 1971 he opened the Neal Street Restaurant, with the menu designed by David Hockney. Among other things, Conran was also the first to serve espresso coffee from a coffee machine in his restaurants.

Menu of the Neal Street Restaurant, 1971, designed by David Hockney

The Design Museum

However, Terence Conran had not only a commercial spirit, or perhaps he understood the commercial potential in culture, so in 1980, with the Conran Foundation, he started the Boilerhouse project in the basement of the Victoria & Albert Museum. Within a few years, Boilerhouse organized exhibitions on Kenneth Grange, Issey Miyake, and Dieter Rams, as well as seminars and meetings. Its success was so big that in 1989 it metamorphosed into the Design Museum, in an old converted warehouse. Since 2016 the Design Museum has had a new home, designed by OMA, Allies and Morrison, and John Pawson.

The first Design Museum, 1989, in a former warehouse. Ph: Aurelien Guichard

Below, the Design Museum inaugurated in 2016, in a building designed by OMA, Allies + Morrison, and John Pawson


Sir Terence Conran and the USA

In 1999, The Conran Shop arrived in New York. The first Conran Shop was on the 59th street, under the Queensboro Bridge, a glass pavilion in a beautiful location, with a façade overlooking the East River.

The Conran Shop, New York, on the 59th street, under the Queensboro Bridge

In the meanwhile, the passion for food was growing, and what’s better than a good restaurant in a beautiful place? Said and done, he relaunched Guastavino’s, in the spaces of the Queensboro Bridge Market, next to the Conran Shop. The building that housed the Queensboro Bridge Market and Guastavino’s was spectacular, a sort of contemporary cathedral. Guastavino’s was not the only restaurant relaunched by Terence Conran. In 2003, he also contributed to the rebirth of Quaglino’s in London. In more recent times, the Bibendum has been included in the Michelin Guide.

The entrance of Guastavino’s, next to The Conran Shop, New York, on the 59th street

Considering stores, production, restaurants, museums, Terence Conran’s contribution to the worldwide spread of design was really remarkable. Probably thanks to the enthusiasm of the post-war recovery and the consequent economic development, new consumer habits and new products were entering British homes.

Quaglino’s in London today

And enlightened entrepreneurs like Conran were ready to take advantage of that favorable moment to start businesses combining trade and culture. This is the long-standing debate among detractors and promoters of the “democratization of design”. Of course, perhaps Habitat’s design did not have the research content that characterized high-end projects, but it appealed to an undoubtedly larger segment of the population, thanks to new distribution concepts.

Perhaps Terence Conran had the quite rare ability to combining commercial activities and culture, offering wider segments of the population the opportunity to improve their knowledge of design. [Txt Roberta Mutti]

Cini Boeri: made in Italy design and architecture

Cini Boeri on the Ghost chair, designed for Fiam in 1987

Cini Boeri (Cini, diminutive of “piccinin”, “small”) died on September 9th, 2020, aged 96. A world-famous Italian architect and designer, by a curious coincidence, she passed away on the day of the Compasso d’Oro 2020 award ceremony, an award she received twice: first, for the Strips sofa, and in 2011 as a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Graduated from Politecnico di Milano in 1951, Cini Boeri started working with Marco Zanuso after a short internship at Gio Ponti’s studio. In 1963, she set off her own practice in Milan, the city where she was born and always lived. During her very long career, she designed some products that made the history of Italian design, some of which are still in production, testifying to their worthiness.

Strips sofa, the revolution in the living room

Designed for Arflex in 1968, the Strips sofa won the Compasso d’Oro Award in 1979. Despite being a vintage piece, its revolutionary concept makes it suitable for our times. Strips is a modular sofa with a wood and metal frame, padded with differentiated-density polyurethane. In 1969, it was the first time that non-deformable polyurethane met a wood frame. Strips is a deconstructed modular sofa, with a fully removable quilted cover. It is also a sofa-bed based on a very simple principle: open the quilted cover and the sofa turns into a sort of sleeping bag in an immediate and comfortable way.

Strips sofa, designed by Cini Boeri, 1968

Bobo, the recomposed seat

For Arflex Cini Boeri designed also the Bobo armchair, in 1967. Bobo, Bobolungo, Boboletto represent 3 generations and 3 ways of seating depending on one’s posture and age. Bobo was made of non-deformable polyurethane, with a poplar base, covered with a stretch fabric.

Another experimental product designed for Arflex in 1971 was Serpentone, a continuous sofa to be bought by the meter, formed by polyurethane foam modules that were juxtaposed and glued. The 37 cm modules where injection molded with a lamellar section that made it possible to create both concave and convex curves.


Finally, in 1974 Cini Boeri designed for Arflex also the Bengodi sofa, reinterpreted in 2009 as Ben Ben.

Cini Boeri’s work in design did not stop there. Over time she worked with the main Italian and international companies, including Gavina, Knoll, and, more recently, Fiam and Magis.

Cini Boeri and glass

With an uncommon piece of furniture, Ghost, produced by Fiam in 1987, Cini Boeri tried her hand at an armchair entirely made of glass. A single curved and enveloping line, a design challenge that the architect took up with the pioneering spirit that always characterized her work.

Ghost, armchair by Cini Boeri for Fiam, entirely made of glass

Architecture by Cini Boeri

Among Italy’s first women in architecture, Cini Boeri left her mark also with her buildings. In the Sixties, she designed holiday homes in Sardinia, including casa Bunker and Villa Rotonda, on La Maddalena, in 1967, and La Sbandata, again on La Maddalena, in 2003. These homes share the same ability to fit easily into a distinctive landscape, subject to environmental restrictions. In addition to the homes on La Maddalena, Cini Boeri designed other private houses and worked on numerous interior design projects including many showrooms and stores. [Pictures of the buildings from]


Nathalie by Flou wins the Compasso d’Oro Lifetime Achievement Award

The Compasso d’Oro Product Lifetime Achievement Award: an award for the products with a successful and long “lifetime”, such as Nathalie, by Flou

For the very first time, the 2020 edition of the Compasso d'Oro Awards assigned 3 Product Lifetime Achievement Awards. Three products that have left an indelible mark on the history of Made in Italy production. There is a moment when even objects start having an intrinsic value as objects, regardless of their function. This happens particularly with objects that form part of the furniture of our home and, as a consequence, of our daily life. We establish with them a sort of emotional relationship, which becomes more and more exclusive over the years. Some products are even able to stand the test of time and trends, and become classics with eternal life, still successful after many years.

Nathalie bed, by Vico Magistretti for Flou, original version, 1978. It has won the Compasso d’Oro Product Lifetime Achievement Award 2020

The Compasso d’Oro Lifetime Achievement Award becomes an award that acknowledges the multiple aspects of a product: design, development, production, duration over time. To all these elements we must add "uniqueness" (if we can even say uniqueness, speaking of an industrial product), which turns a product into an icon, an object with a long “lifetime”.

See all the winners of the Compasso d’Oro Awards 2020 here

Nathalie bed, by Vico Magistretti for Flou, in 2018

The ancestor of modern fabric beds

The jury of the Compasso d’Oro Awards 2020 awarded the Nathalie bed, a project by Vico Magistretti for Flou, 1978, recognizing its role as ancestor of modern fabric beds.” Nathalie was the first bed that combined bed, mattress and bedding into a single project. As Magistretti explained, “In that period, there was the trend of the duvet. I simply extended it to cover the bed base.” Nathalie's revolution involved also distribution, because with that fabric bed it was possible to buy everything you needed in the same store – bed, mattress, pillows and linen.

The perfect bow of the Nathalie bed by Flou

Of course, also the look of the Nathalie bed played an important part. It became a piece of furniture that made it possible to change the interior design of the bedroom, opening up new horizons in this field. Last but not least, the bow that closes the pillowcases, Nathalie’s distinctive feature.

Discover everything about the Nathalie bed by Flou here


Art on the table by Steinbeisser

Steinbeisser is a Dutch brand producing sustainable tableware for new culinary experiences

Ping Pong spoon designed by Wang Ian Lai for Steinbeisser, available on

Steinbeisser is a Dutch brand of dishes, cutlery and tableware in general, established in Amsterdam in 2009 by Martin Kullik and Jouw Wijnma. This brand produces sustainable dishes and cutlery with aesthetic and functional characteristics that are distant from those of traditional tableware. Kullik and Wijnma work with designers from all over the world to make original tableware able to reinterpret the traditional concept of table. The cutlery, cups, and glasses made by Steinbeisser encourage people to experiment with new uses and have exciting culinary experiences.

Wine glass by Jochen Holz for Steinbeisser. Ph:

You are not only what you eat, you are also how you eat. Steinbeisser tableware invites you to think about how you eat more than what you eat. In this way, lunch and dinner become moments of sharing and discovery.

Art and sustainability in Steinbeisser products

Not only are Steinbeisser plates and cutlery sustainable, but they are also precious authentic works of art. With their unique shapes, materials and functionalities, they allow you to enjoy food in a different way. Steinbeisser utensils are totally ecofriendly since they are made with natural and often recycled materials such as wood, pumpkin, stone, metal, clay, glass. Even the glue, paint and glass used to make them are organic and biodegradable.

Discover Join, long-lasting plastic cutlery

A dish served during Experimental Gastronomy 2017, the event organized every year by Steinbeisser at the Lloyd Hotel and Cultural Embassy in Amsterdam, with Michelin-starred chefs and designers from all over the world. Ph: Rein Janssen

Experimental Gastronomy, the initiative by Steinbeisser combining artistic tableware and haute cuisine

In 2012, Steinbeisser collective launched Experimental Gastronomy. This annual event, held at the Lloyd Hotel and Cultural Embassy in Amsterdam, was created to combine the creative and artistic design of their dishes with the best examples of world gastronomy. Anybody can take part in the dinner, prepared by internationally renowned starred chefs that change every year. This iconic dinner always offers a biodynamic menu, made with local organic ingredients. During every edition, guests are invited to experience new ways of enjoying food and interacting with dishes and cutlery.

Experimental Gastronomy 2019, Vienna. During the dinner, you can experiment with new ways of enjoying food and interacting with tableware. The event is organized in different cities around the world. Ph: Thomas Albdorf

The new edition of Experimental Gastronomy, 6-8 November 2020, in Amsterdam, will host Chef Jeong Kwan, known from Netflix’s Chef’s Table, the show that delves into the life and carrier of a world-famous chef, created by David Gelb.

Discover the locations of the next Experimental Gastronomy events on Steinbeisser website. The initiative takes place in other cities around the world in addition to Amsterdam.

Steinbeisser tableware can be purchased on Jouw, an e-commerce platform that is constantly updated.

Experimental Gastronomy 2018, Basel. Ph: Kathrin Koschitzki


All the winners of the Compasso d'Oro Awards 2020

The Compasso d’Oro Awards 2020 are back with a dedicated space in a very evocative venue

The 2020 edition of the Compasso d’Oro Awards is a very special one. First of all, it has been the first in-person event during the Covid health emergency. Secondly, except for the few rules that, of course, had to be respected, the atmosphere was almost normal.

However, the Compasso d’Oro Awards 2020, now in their 26th edition, have much more to celebrate because, for the first time, the award ceremony was held at the ADI Design Museum, which will officially open in December 2020. A beautiful venue, in the former Enel premises, on via Ceresio, Milan. An event within the event, the Councilor for Culture of the City of Milan, inaugurated Piazza del Compasso d’Oro, the square in front of the entrance of the museum, now officially dedicated to Italy’s most famous design awards.

The exhibition “Mettere Radici”, Compasso d’Oro 2020

Discover the winners of Compasso d’Oro Awards 2018

The Compasso d’Oro Awards 2020

Let’s come to the awards. The jury of the Compasso d’Oro Awards 2020, chaired by Denis Santachiara, and composed by Luca Bressan, Virginio Briatore, Jin Kuramoto, Päivi Tahkokallio, assigned 18 Compasso d’Oro Awards. In addition to the traditional awards, also 9 Compasso d’Oro Lifetime Achievement Awards, 3 International Compasso d’Oro Awards, and, for the first time, 3 Compasso d’Oro Product Lifetime Achievement Awards dedicated to 3 objects that are still in production after many years, were given. In the following pictures, you will see the winners in this category.

Compasso d’Oro Lifetime Achievement Awards: Rossella Bertolazzi, Gilda Bojardi, Marco Ferreri, Carlo Forcolini, Carlo Molteni, Piero Molteni, Anty Pansera, Vanni Pasca, Eugenio Perazza, Nanda Vigo. International Compasso d’Oro Lifetime Achievement Awards: Emilio Ambasz, Nasir and Nargis Kassamali, Jasper Morrison.

Sacco, by Gatti Paolini Teodori for Zanotta, Compasso d’Oro Product Lifetime Achievement Award

Innovation, sustainability and responsibility are the 3 keywords that inspired the selection of the winners of the 2020 edition, held during the Covid health emergency. And, as Luciano Galimberti, President ADI, underlined, the health emergency highlighted that design must be sustainable and responsible.

Arco lamp, by Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni for Flos

The exhibition of the XXVI Compasso d’Oro Awards, titled “Mettere Radici”, will be open to the public until September 16th, with free admission and mandatory reservation. A special occasion to preview the ADI Design Museum, the new Milanese museum dedicated to design, which will open in December.

Nathalie bed by Flou, designed by Vico Magistretti, first version, 1978, Compasso d’Oro Product Lifetime Achievement Award

ADI Design Museum, via Ceresio 7, Milan
Link to book your visit

Featured image by Roberto de Riccardis

In the pictures below, the winners of the Compasso d’Oro Awards 2020


In Colombia, a Japanese style house featuring Neolith sintered stone

Architecture firm 5 Sólidos designed a villa near Medellín, Colombia, inspired by Japanese architecture, with Neolith sintered stone surfaces

The outdoor area of the house designed by architecture firm 5 Sólidos in Medellín

A short distance from Medellín (Colombia), architecture and design firm 5 Sólidos designed a villa inspired by the East, surrounded by nature. Thanks to the close contact between man and the surrounding landscape, this project aims to reestablish man’s relationship with nature. This villa has vast areas for relaxation and life in the open air.

The 25m long swimming pool with central boardwalk and the relaxation area with L-shaped sofa and fireplace clad in Neolith Beton sintered stone

Discover Neolith surfaces for stylish and versatile kitchens

The project by architecture firm 5 Sólidos interprets the Asian tradition from a contemporary point of view

This one-story house is organized into two separate blocks with different functions. One of the two buildings hosts the bathrooms and three bedrooms; the other hosts the kitchen, the dining room and the living room. A hallway connects the two areas, one of which is private and intended for rest and relaxation, while the other is dedicated to socializing. In the hallway, a shoji panel, the typical Japanese sliding door, separates the two wings of the house.

The kitchen is in natural wood with worktops and backsplashes covered with Neolith Beton slabs: a hygienic, highly functional solution that is suitable for any surface and recalls concrete

The outdoor area is characterized by spaces dedicated to relaxation and conviviality, with a dining area next to an outdoor kitchen, a 25m long swimming pool, another relaxation area equipped with L-shaped sofa and fireplace

Discover kitchens and lights for outdoor spaces

Discover furniture and finishes for outdoor spaces

Revolutionary surfaces with Neolith sintered stone

Many interior and exterior surfaces of the house are clad with different collections of Neolith sintered stone. Made with a highly innovative, hygienic and resistant stone, ideal for covering any type of surface, these slabs are eco-sustainable and completely natural. Sintered stone is composed of glass minerals, granite, and natural oxides, guaranteeing a low carbon footprint.

The countertops of the bathroom are clad with Neolith Nero sintered stone

Also the process of creating the stone is totally ecological as Neolith Digital Design relies on a completely organic method to print slabs. Hydro-NDD 2.0 printing is a water-based decoration technique that greatly reduces the emissions typical of traditional printing methods. Finally, Neolith slabs are produced by the sintering process: an innovative technique capable of reproducing the natural stone formation process in just a few hours. A process that in nature would take thousands of years to complete.

Discover Neolith surfaces for stylish and versatile kitchens

The universe of Christian Liaigre

Some days ago, Christian Liaigre, a master of interior design who left an indelible mark on contemporary design, passed away. Therefore, I decided to give an overview of his projects, without claiming to have fully treated the topic, just a point of view on the work of one of the most interesting interior architects of the last 30 years. It is not easy to explain why his projects were so special, especially when seen from 2020. However, if we take a step back and go back to 1990, everything becomes clearer.

Mercer Hotel, New York, project by Christian Liaigre (1998)

Hotel Montalembert: a boutique hotel in Paris

In 1988, Christian Liaigre designed the Hotel Montalembert in Paris. The first boutique hotel on the Rive Gauche, Paris, Hotel Montalembert represents an important chapter in the history of interior architecture between 1980 and 1990. Although public spaces were not the most important part of his work (or perhaps because of that), Liaigre left an important mark on hotels.

Hotel Montalembert, Paris

What was so special about the interiors of Hotel Montalembert, then? They simply redefined a new idea of simplicity in design. After all, we were fresh out the Eighties, so exuberant and colorful in fashion, and even in interior architecture in some way. Well, perhaps not so colorful – Memphis aside – but not with that idea of sophisticated sobriety conveyed by Christian Liaigre’s projects.

Apartment in Knokke-Heist (Belgium), interior design by Christian Liaigre

Already in the project for Hotel Montalembert he showed his ability to combine different sources of inspiration and transform them into an immediately recognizable style. At the end of the Eighties, neither boutique hotels nor hotels with “home-like” interior design were so popular. Moreover, the overall impression consisted in extremely simple shapes that let materials define the surfaces. (Today Hotel Montalembert is no longer as it was in the 1990 project, as it has already undergone other interventions and some by Liaigre himself).

Villa in the Caribbean, interior design by Christian Liaigre

Christian Liaigre drew his inspiration from the tradition of French craftsmen, cabinetmakers and smiths of precious metals. Quite distant from the conceptual minimalism of other architects of the 1990s, the spaces designed by Liaigre were neither empty nor white. On the contrary, his in-depth search on materials allowed him to create a different environment every time, in line with the different philosophy it had to reflect.

House in Nantucket (Massachusetts)

The Mercer Hotel: home away from home

This was also the case for The Mercer Hotel in New York, the hotel that made André Balazs famous (who relaunched the Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles and launched The Standard Hotel in several cities) and was a turning point for the hospitality sector worldwide. And the hotel that, also thanks to Christian Liaigre’s design, became an international icon. We have to keep in mind that The Mercer opened in the second half of the nineties. Until then, there was no “hotel cult” like today. And there was not this expensive and exclusive model of hotel with small rooms in a cast-iron building in SoHo. Liaigre added to this picture sober furniture and finishes in natural colors and materials, neutral plasters, and woods of different colors depending on the space.

A room of The Mercer Hotel, New York, designed by Christian Liaigre in 1998

More recently, Liaigre decorated other hotels in New York: the Edition Hotel and the Public Hotel, owned by Ian Schrager (also owner of Royalton, Paramount, Gramercy Park).

Discover the Public Hotel and other hotels in New York here

The Edition Hotel, New York, furnished by Christian Liaigre

In the meanwhile, Christian Liaigre designed countless private homes. Among them, a large apartment for Rupert Murdoch, who wanted an apartment “like The Mercer Hotel” (as Liaigre said). Actually, the apartment was very big and there was something of the spirit of The Mercer, which was not the spirit of the Mercer but Liaigre’s design, able to interpret spaces depending on the client and the place.

Rupert Murdoch’s apartment in New York, a contemporary version of the cast-iron building

That’s why his interiors are always different, depending on the clients’ personality and the location. Because the Hamptons are the Hamptons, New York is New York, Paris is Paris, and son on. And all his projects shared a simplicity curated down to the last detail, a material research ranging from local woods to bronze, up to fine marbles, a palette including endless shades of neutral colors.

Detail of a staircase in a house in Greece

Christian Liaigre: the luxury of simplicity

In Liagre’s projects, simplicity and essentiality do not mean minimalism. The right word may be essentiality. An essentiality built on the French tradition of interior decoration, reinterpreted with contemporary elements, influenced by Japanese precision and the light of the tropics. In this way, essentiality became a new version of luxury, which gradually became a new standard for interior architecture in the years to come. It would have been nice to see Liaigre at work in 10 years, to see how his work would evolve. Unfortunately, it will not be possible. [Roberta Mutti]

Detail of a house in Japan