GREEN WITH ENVY: BRUNO DE CAUMONT’S ‘LA VILLA VERTE’



 

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A-Gent of Style was delighted to be able to get his hands on his first copy of
Design Anthology a couple of few weeks ago at the Design Centre Chelsea Harbour. Asia’s new, premier English-language interiors, design, architecture and creative culture magazine will be published quarterly and available internationally.
The brainchild of Hong Kong-based interior designer Suzi Annetta of Studio Annetta, Design Anthology claims to be “for design connoisseurs and bon vivants”. It is now officially on A-Gent of Style‘s list of noteworthy publications.


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Amongst the different, eclectic projects featured in Design Anthology’s first issue, ‘La Villa Verte’ is, according to A-Gent of Style, the most arresting of them all. Situated in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, this stunning house belongs and was decorated by the brilliant French interior and furniture designer Bruno de Caumont who settled a few years ago in the Vietnamese capital city, once a French territory, where he makes his own furniture, mostly with lacquer, one of A-Gent of Style‘s favourite finishes (see his retrospective on lacquer in interiors here).

Whilst there are sadly no exterior shots of the house (the project was also published last month in the French Elle Decoration), each room in ‘La Villa Verte’ – inspired by the verdant green colour of a local lotus flower – is set alight and suffused with vibrant, glorious colours, mostly solid and plain (bar the tiled floors and walls reminiscent of Andrée Putman, there are no patterned fabrics here; ok, one tiny black and white check on the sofa next to Caumont’s own wool rug), represented in either close tonal gradations à la David Collins (have you all got your own copy of ABCDCS yet??) or in wonderfully clashing combinations.


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In this 1950s house where no ornate mouldings or florid ceiling rose take centre stage, the pared down, uncluttered almost streamlined look redolent of some of European designers of that era (Gio Ponti’s blue masterpiece, the iconic Hotel Parco dei Principi in Sorrento, springs to mind here when you see the blue bedrooms) is complemented with Chinoiserie and Japanned elements. Despite the vivacious palette and explosion of colours similar to India Madhavi’s, you could never tell this oxymoronically bold but tranquil house is located in the noisy scooter-ridden city centre.

Caumont’s own designs of lacquered wood furniture, taken mostly from his latest collection Annam consisting of 25 Asian-inspired pieces like his brass-sabot Thalos stools, benches and tables, find their inspirations from 19th and 20th centuries with reinterpretations of classical work and original creations, eschewing fleeting seasonal trends. Caumont’s pieces are juxtaposed with timeless objects and antiques, sourced locally or regionally (notice Caumont’s beautiful Georges Jouve-esque metal wall sconces).

A-Gent of Style wishes he had seen this delightfully charming house when he went to Vietnam a few years ago. For now, he will have to keep contemplating these glorious photographs.




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– Photographs from Design Anthology and Elle Decoration



‘ABCDCS’ THE BOOK: A SPECIAL FEATURE AND INTERVIEW WITH DAVID COLLINS STUDIO





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“I have always wanted to see things I imagine made into a reality”

– David Collins –



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The wait is now over. Finally. The much-awaited ABCDCS book by David Collins Studio, heralded as the most important interior design book of 2014, is now available. After months of speculation and anticipation, the publication of the first monograph on (and partially by) David Collins will allow design connoisseurs and enthusiasts to ‘own’ a part of the rich legacy that the late designer left behind him in a career spanning almost three decades which somehow redefined people’s lives in public and private.

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A-Gent of Style has expressed in various features on his blog the unswerving admiration and deep influence David Collins has had on him over the years,
which reached their peak when his design icon unexpectedly left a marvellous and rather flattering comment a year ago on his feature of his latest Alexander McQueen store.


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Two weeks ago, A-Gent of Style had the privilege to be invited by David Collins’s long-standing team, now the custodians of his vision, to interview Communications Director, David Kendall, about the book, its genesis and its conception. Little did A-Gent of Style know he would be the first person outside the Studio to see the book that had arrived the day before from the publishers (Instagramers would have been teased that night by a preview shot of the final book cover). 



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And this is what A-Gent of Style will reveal about the book. ABCDCS is beyond chic. And timeless. Everything in this weighty tome is considered and striking (would you expect anything else from their studio?). It delights, surprises and is resonant with meaning. Organised alphabetically rather than chronologically, and showcasing David Collins’s myriads influences and inspirations, this unique and sleek epitaph boasts a bold portfolio of stunning images themed around buzz words and commentaries Collins had written himself.

As A-Gent of Style discovered ABCDCS for the first time, iconic but also lesser known or even unpublished projects  – hotels, restaurant, bars, residences or retail spaces – popped up, as well as a great sense of pace and colour permeating it. Madonna’s foreword is honest and well-worded. A meticulous attention to details appears and captivates. Favourite collectable objects such as Line Vautrin, Fornasetti and Primavera resonate with ideas and mesmerise. The palette of colours associated with Collins’s works, principally his beloved trademark blue and its various gradation, shines through and dazzles.


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ABCDCS
is a unique piece of memorabilia, an essential reference book and a fitting tribute and celebration to a towering and much-missed personality of the design world. No doubt ABCDCS will instantly become a must-have and a classic on many coffee tables.


The interview:

David Kendall, Communications Director, David Collins Studio

David Kendall, Communications Director, David Collins Studio



What was the inspiration for the book?

Back in 2009, we wanted to put together some sort of collateral for the launch event of our Ritz-Carlton residences, MahaNakhon, in Bangkok, and David came up with the idea of an alphabetical portfolio which would take the form of a small give-away book (fifty-two pages in the end) organised from A to Z, with one letter for each page, each letter representing a word, for instance Architecture, Beauty, Colour etc, and one image illustrating that word.


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MahaNakhon, Bangkok

MahaNakhon, Bangkok

 

MahaNakhon, Bangkok

MahaNakhon, Bangkok



How did the ABCDCS come about?

After the event, David thought about turning this small book into a ‘proper’ book. We worked on it on and off for five years, updating it along the way. David would at times look at it, make amendments, edit it. The keywords changed every time we looked at it. M was for Music then he wanted it to be Madonna [he settled for Music in the end]. But the themes are the same; they were just refined over the years. We were very fortunate David finished writing the text for every letter by the end of last year. He was very good at writing. He was very much involved. He’d laid out the bones. There was little editing to do in the end [David points out David Collins had written a book on hotels, not his own, called ‘New Hotel: Architecture and Design’ published in 2001]. And we already had all the images. David had chosen some of them already and he also suggested we cropped others or use some details. All we had to do was produce and edit the final version.



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ABCDCS. Why this title?

ABCDCS was David’s choice from the beginning. He always said that’s what it would be. And that’s what it is, ABCDCS!


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Can you describe the covers?

The front cover is David’s home in London. We went through many images but we wanted it to be one of his homes in the end. This image captures materials, colour, texture, a slightly abstract, dream-like quality, which is more engaging and intriguing than a ‘hero shot’, with the usual symmetry. We also preferred a close-up to show details. The image is layered with antique marble, metalwork, mohair carpet, shagreen, silk velvet. And of course, it shows shades of blue, David’s favourite colour. We worked for instance on the gold lettering which was too gold originally and settled on a more subtle brass finish. The actual book without the sleeve is covered in a purpley blue linen, another favourite colour of David’s.
The back cover is a close-up of the hand-stitched green upholstered walls in David’s home.

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Can you tell us about the graphics?

The typography and the font were developed by the same graphic designer as the original small book, which were somehow inspired, amongst others, by the Goyard logo.


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Are all of David Collins Studio’s projects in the book?

Most of them have been included. The book has a variety of sectors, residential and commercials, and includes some of the last projects up to the last nine months.
We didn’t want to have a portfolio whereby there would be a section dedicated to each project. The themes dictated the images.

Private residence

Private residence

 

The Blue Bar, The Berkeley, London

The Blue Bar, The Berkeley, London



What can we expect from the book?

Something chic but also a sense of pace and colour as you flick through the book. 

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Can you tell us about your collaboration with Assouline?

It was a great collaborative project. I remember we’d produced first drafts. I had different dummies on my iPad and I ended up having a meeting with a publisher from Assouline in New York and, soon after showing them to her, she decided then and there they would love to publish it because it was so chic. Assouline were very supportive from the inception of the project. We’re delighted with the result. The photos are so strong as we worked with so many talented photographers over the years. The quality of the print is amazing. It would be lovely to see it translated in different languages.


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How was the process for you?

It was a fun process, quite emotional of course too, but I thoroughly enjoyed the process and finally seeing the final copy. For me, personally, it had to be done properly; it’s David’s book, it had to be perfect. We’d been working on it for so long. We came close and true to David’s vision, I hope. We think he’d be happy with it. I’d love to do another one.


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How was Madonna involved?

We reached out to Madonna because David had always said he’d like her to be part of it. She was wonderful. What came back from her blew our mind. It is a long, personal, beautiful and touching introduction. It hasn’t been changed at all, it’s completely verbatim. We’re very grateful to ‘Muriel’. You’ll have to get the book to understand why…


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David Collins


What does ABCDCS represent?

ABCDCS is a landmark for us. It marks the legacy we’ve inherited from David. It is timely. It is also a way of celebrating the Studio. We are very lucky to still be very busy; we have some exciting projects coming up. It will also be fun to celebrate the book, which was a huge task in the last year. We hope people will like it.



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A-Gent of Style would like to thank David Kendall, Jodi Feder and Simon Rawlings at David Collins Studio for giving him the amazing opportunity to preview the book with an interview, and for all their help and support.


– Photographs by Assouline, David Collins Studio and A-Gent of Style







A EURO STAR GETS ‘LE MAKE-OVER’





 “Travelling from the capital of cool to the capital of fashion, we think the Eurostar needs an urgent make-over.” – Christopher Jenner, globe-trotting designer.





A-Gent of Style
has been a regular voyageur on Eurostar since its launch in 1994 and his student days in France; as I was boarding this most cherished train on my way back to London last night after a wonderful long weekend in France, I couldn’t help but daydream about the fanciful, conceptual project South-African, UK-based designer Christopher Jenner envisaged for the Eurostar.

 




Emotively layered with various references, Jenner’s splendid hybrid version takes cue from the luxury means of transport of the golden age from the turn of the past century and also from futuristic visions: I couldn’t help but pick up visual associations with the Orient-Express, First Class seats on aeroplanes, David Collins’ Bob Bob Ricard and Japan’s ‘Bullet Train‘.




In essence, Jenner’s visionary Eurostar would be brighter, more spacious and isolated and ultimately glamourous.

There would be individual cantilevered, high-backed wing chairs-cum-booths providing privacy, noise reduction and a cozy place to relax and enjoy the panoramic views. A tribute would be paid to the original colour palette but this time the cocooning seats would be made of white material with a ‘gaufraged’ pattern and the inner upholstery would have a vibrant lemon fabric ornamented with deep-tufts.





These modern-day ‘porter chairs’ would provide ultimate luxury: reclinable armrest providing services for air, power and connection, retractable footrests, adjustable headrests and high-tech screens behind each seat.

The carriages would be finished in carbon fiber, have polished brass detailing on the seats and all the way up to the olde worlde luggage racks (one of my favourite specifications here) and the floor would be covered in rubber wood, have no harsh corners and will curve seamlessly up to dado  window level.




What A-Gent of Style would like to see (or even work on!) is the staff sporting bespoke uniforms and branding that would match the aesthetics of the train. Imagine boarding the Eurostar and being greeted and served by ushers and usherettes dressed like Virgin Atlantic cabin crew in their newly designed Vivienne Westwood uniforms or any outfits designed by the fantastic No Uniform, the award-winning uniform design company which is responsible for some of the most striking outfits in the hospitality, corporate and retail worlds – think Bob Bob Ricard, Skylon, Gaucho Grill, Crème de la Mer, The Goring and many other established brands. Now that would be glamourous!

Let’s hope this divine conceptualisation materialise one day.




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