Joséphine Bonaparte was actually born Marie Josèphe Rose Tascher de la Pager. Try that as an Instagram handle! But in today’s world, the once French Empress would probably be known on social media and in celebrity magazines as JoBo.
The Martinique-born lover and first wife of Napoléon Bonaparte, Rose de Beauharnais (she was married first to the aristocrat Alexandre de Beauharnais) was renamed “Josephine” by the French emperor. Her style and elegance were emulated across Europe and her influence as an avid art collector and decorator was considerable. Idolised as a style icon and celebrated as a modern woman and trendsetter, it is no wonder she has become today the fantasised inspiration behind a new boutique hotel in Paris.
JoBo came to A-Gent of Style‘s attention only after coming back from Paris Déco Off last month. Little did he know at the time that its charismatic and talented interior decorator was herself too part of the Déco Off’s jury and that they spent the first day together judging the showrooms!
The Hôtel de Joséphine Bonaparte, in its full designation or simply JoBo to those in the know, opened last summer steps away from La Place des Vosges in Le Marais, the multi-faceted part of old Paris. The once 17th Century convent’s new decor was entirely inspired by and dedicated to Joséphine Bonaparte. The 24 bedrooms and public areas are a riot of colours and bold patterns, and an ode to all things JoBo came to symbolise and love, first and foremost her passion of roses – she had, at the time, the greatest and largest rose collection in the world that was made up of about 250 species and varieties at Malmaison. The flower can be found all around the hotel, either as a wallpaper, a chintz and the carpets throughout the hotel which have been designed by the decorator herself.
Enters Bambi Sloan. A-Gent of Style was mesmerised by all of the images of the hotel he found online as soon as he delved into her creation. Sloan’s approach is studied and intelligent but also frivolous and gay. The hotel captures the insouciance but also the refinement of the post-French revolution era as well as the eponymous heroine’s character. Sloan playfully throws bold patterns and colours together referencing to the Directoire style with a gentle nod to Madeleine Castaing too (the leopard-print carpet, the turquoise colour, the gauze curtains…). Walls and upholstery are adorned in either plush velvets, Toiles de Jouy, striped tricolour cockade, leopard-print or swirling swags of roses, some of which come from the archives of the iconic Le Manach at Pierre Frey. The explosion of hot pinks and reds of the Adelphi Paper Hangings wallpapers and friezes as well as the flower power carpet give the corridor a sophisticated and glowing Red Lights district-esque atmosphere. The trompe-l-oeil marquetry parquet and the ebonised and brass detailed furniture anchor the rooms whilst the bathrooms have a more neutral yet impactful palette of black, silver and white marble mosaics. As for the entrance to the hotel, the colourful, flowery, chintzy tented courtyard certainly sets the tone for the rest of the hotel.
Last but not least, thumbs up to the owners of the hotel for having a whole section dedicated to the interior decoration. Not only do they credit the decorator (I always find it puzzling that, online or in some magazines, the creators of what makes the whole venue are hardly ever credited; surely, without them, it wouldn’t be what it is so why ignore them!?) but also they describe the feel and design of the rooms as well as mentioning the names of some of the fabrics or wallpapers and their manufacturers. I like that. A lot.
This wacky but witty rock ‘n’ roll luxurious boudoir has undoubtedly a lot of character and is not for the faint-hearted nor the taupe brigade! It is eccentric, zany, and imbued with history and cheekiness. A-Gent of Style knows exactly where he will be heading first next time he is in ze French capital. The main dilemma will be then: which type of bedroom to stay in?…
And if you want to delve a bit more into Jobo’s life, read the feature Josephine, Imperial Tastemaker I wrote after I reviewed in 2014 an exhibition at the Musee du Luxembourg celebrating the legend.
Pearls are considered to be the oldest known and the most valuable gems in history as well as being regarded as ones of the highest for their beauty.
Similarly, timelessness, desirability and beauty are attributes that perfectly befit David Collins Studio who turns thirty today and is celebrating its pearl anniversary.
Having reached this milestone, A-Gent of Style, a long-standing admirer of the Studio’s work and aesthetic, wanted to mark the occasion in his own way as a tribute to and celebration of a towering and much-missed personality of the design world by making a special collaborative feature with the Studio. Rather than looking back at the Studio’s past canon of work, which is much cherished and admired but has already been widely publicised, A-Gent of Style wanted to focus this time on the present and the future by showcasing a diaporama of some of David Collins Studio’s projects since the untimely death in 2013 of its acclaimed and influential creator David Collins, as well as revealing a fascinating interview with the Studio’s Communications Director, David Kendall.
Far too dynamic to ever rest on its laurels and without a lot of fanfare and too much distraction, the Studio itself is hosting from today for two days only a one-off exhibition curated by Nick Vinson of The Vinson View, Wallpaper*: ‘PAST PRESENT FUTURE” at Philips auction house on Berkeley Square. Bringing together imagery and physical elements from some of the Studio’s most celebrated projects as well as a sneak peek at upcoming ones, the exhibition offers an insight into some of the its most definitive creations of the past three decades including its first trailblazing project La Tante Claire at Royal Hospital Road through some of it most famous destinations including Claridge’s Bar, The Wolseley, Mirabelle, Nobu Berkeley St, Bob Bob Ricard, The Connaught Bar, the Gilbert Scott and Colbert, to name but a few.
In the last year, David Collins Studio has collaborated with a number of prestigious luxury brands on some of its notable projects to date, including the Continental restaurant at Pacific Place Hong Kong, VOGUE Lounge in Bangkok, and the Garden Lounge at the Corinthia Hotel, London. Two new departments were realised at Harrods and opened during the summer; Eveningwear and Luxury Collections. These followed the 42,000 square feet Harrods Shoe Heaven launched in August 2014. In September 2015, Alexander McQueen launched a new duplex flagship store on Rue Saint-Honoré, which follows flagships in Miami, London, New York and Tokyo, all designed by the Studio. During The London Design Festival 2015, David Collins collaborated with Italian master furniture creators Promemoria to realise the London collection: 14 pieces of furniture expanding an original Capsule Collection launched in April 2013 which have been continually refined and finessed over the last two years. The Studio also provided creative direction for the design of the new home of London Fashion Week at The Brewer Street Car Park last month. Some of you will have seen snippets of some of these projects on A-Gent‘s Instagram.
Over the last three decades, David Collins Studio has become synonymous with redefining luxury interior design around the world and with revolutionising the contemporary aesthetic and urban landscape with its distinctive vision. Remembered for designing some of the most remarkable, innovative and desirable hotels, bars, restaurants, boutiques and residences of the last thirty-odd years in London and all around the world, its achievements are extra-ordinary and its legacy indisputable.
In the last couple of years, The Studio’s imagination and creativity has brought to fruition luxury interior design and architectural projects worldwide that are once again inspiring, unexpected, unique and thankfully not formulaic and faddish. Its incredible team of in-house designers as well as its trusted network of artisans and craftsmen have effortlessly carried the designer’s name and have kept his legacy alive and flourishing without any compromise. Reflecting myriads of influences and inspirations, the new projects are notable for how richly textured their interiors are – The Collection of David Collins estate sale last November at Christie’s was aptly named “Luxury – Colour – Texture” – and these new projects feel simultaneously contemporary and already established, rooted in the life and traditions of their respective location. Each of them exemplifies the Studio’s extraordinary capacity to grow, flourish and reinvent and reinterpret itself.
An interview with David Kendall, David Collins Studio’s Communications Director
How did David Collins Studio look back on the last three decades?
Why an exhibition? Can you tell us about its genesis and purpose?
How is the studio balancing the David Collins legacy with the need to develop new ideas?
Would you say there are David Collins design hallmarks or is it more about an underlying ethos?
You can look at our work and say it is about colour or symmetry or geometry, or texture and detail and lighting, but really the consistent is that our projects function and operate allowing them longevity. Simon Rawlings our creative director worked with David Collins for over 15 years and so he understood and shared his vision. There is an underlying ethos, and that is the spirit with which David built The Studio and mentored his team and the processes that were instilled in the office.
The images below are the undeniable proof that David Collins Studio has turned all of their new enterprises into glorious hallmarks that already bear the creator’s unique and indelible style, vision and DNA. David Collins Studio’s journey to enhance our lives is far from over. It has just started.
– Happy anniversary –
Projects by David Collins Studio 2013-2015
A special thanks to David Kendall and Jodi Feder at David Collins Studio for their help, trust and support.
– Photos by David Collins Studio –
The Turkish Turkish fantasy created by Serdar Gülgün has been an assault on
A-Gent of Style‘s senses since he discovered the quintessential Renaissance man a few months ago through his latest book, celebratory press coverage and of course Instagram.
For those who are not familiar yet with this magician of interiors, Istanbul native Serdar Gülgün is a world-renowned interior designer, Ottoman art collector and expert, and an internationally acclaimed lecturer, historian, and author. And now one of A-Gent of Style‘s favrourite new designers. From his now well storied stunning 19th-century historic mansion on the Bosphorus to his collections of historical art to his books, The Grand Bazaar Istanbul and Ottoman Chic, Gülgün is known for his passion for bringing Turkish history to life. For those who have visited Istanbul in style, he is the man behind designing the A’Ya rooftop terrace at Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet.
Standing at the crossroads of many cultures between West and East, the Ottoman style this sultan of chic excels at is also spiced with influences from Chinese and Indian to French and Italian, all of which are present in his enticing interiors. Constantly inspired by the atmosphere of his ancient city, Gülgün believes a successful interior design is a place of experience in which authentic elements of culture fuse and achieve alchemy, awakening all the senses and transporting its inhabitants to a place of fantasy.
“The word ‘extravagant’ generally refers to something in excess and is related to flamboyance, which can easily turn inelegant, but Ottomans found a way to achieve an elegant extravagance,” explains Serdar Gülgün
You can follow Serdar on a short tour of his house (and marvel at his French)