IN MEMORIAM: DAVID COLLINS








The world of Interior Design is bereft today as it has lost one of its greatest contemporary geniuses.

The sudden and untimely death of the acclaimed and influential interior designer and tastemaker David Collins sent shock waves yesterday amongst designers, fashionistas and the many other circles of people who knew and admired him.





David Collins will be remembered for designing some of the most remarkable, innovative and desirable hotels, bars, restaurants, stores and residences for celebrities of the last thirty-odd years not only in London but all around the world too. His achievements are phenomenal and his legacy indisputable.

To A-Gent of Style, David Collins was probably the main reason why he changed careers five years ago to become a designer. I used to refer to him as ‘the God of Interior Design’ – a saccharine utterance I admit that irritated a few envious decorators at an Awards party but made him laugh with embarrassment last year when I told him in person. I feel really honoured today to have met him on a few occasions; after all, you don’t get to meet your icons very often, if at all.

To me, David Collins was also a linguist and a translator – he invented throughout his vision a unique language which had its own syntax, an unmistakable vocabulary and a distinctive cadence through which he interpreted and realised his clients’ briefs. He was also a painter: he revolutionised and redefined London’s landscape and other worlds’ cityscapes working from an old or a new canvas.

I particularly admired the way the Irish designer used various shades of one colour, played with varying luxury textures and materials and the way he designed incredible, bespoke furniture and lighting fixtures. Passionate about fashion, he was masterful at creating interiors that seamlessly linked both worlds: degradé dresses of variegated shades seen at a Prada fashion show inspired Collins to use the same technique and fabrics on curtains in his own house or for instance in the Penthouse of the Connaught Hotel.

I realise this may sound a bit mawkish but David Collins was somehow part of my life: yesterday, as I was browsing through his website and looked at the vast and impressive list of his projects, I came to realise that since I moved to London in 1997, I had actually ‘been’ to every single one of his London projects (sadly, only the commercial ones) on numerous occasions.

Whether it were for eating, drinking, shopping, sleeping, or resting, memories and flashbacks started flooding through my mind:

I will never forget seeing for the first time the Blue Bar at the Berkeley Hotel (that lavendery blue!!), going on a date at Nobu, Mayfair (those incredible polished steel columns!!), using the Artesian Bar like my own drinks trolley when I temporarily lived at the Langham, (that jewelled Pagoda bar!!), being reunited with a group of friends at Bob Bob Ricard (that Orient Express-esque diner!!), drowning my sorrows with a consoling confidante at the Connaught Bar ( that blissful modern Art Deco look!! and still my favourite London bar today), going on an annual celebratory breakfast with a dear friend (those Viennese Olde Worlde ceiling lights!!) and awaiting with great anticipation the opening of the Corinthia (those eau-de-nil shagreened walls at the Bassoon Bar and that brown and green palette at Massimo!!).

 

Here are some examples of David Collins’s astonishing, award-winning creations and contribution to Interior Design:


The Blue bar, The Berkeley Hotel, London

The Blue bar, The Berkeley Hotel, London

 

Nobu, Berkeley, London

Nobu, Berkeley, London

 

Private residence

David Collins’s residence, London

 

The Delaunay, London

The Delaunay, London

 

The Artesian bar, Langham Hotel, London

The Artesian bar, Langham Hotel, London

 

The Bassoon bar, Corinthia Hotel, London

The Bassoon bar, Corinthia Hotel, London

 

Private residence

 

The Callas restaurant, Budapest, Hungary

The Callas, Budapest, Hungary

 

The Ritz- Carlton Residences, MahaNakhon, Bangkok



Massimo, Corinthia Hotel, London

Massimo, Corinthia Hotel, London

 

The Charles Hotel, New York City

The Charles Hotel, New York City

 

J.Sheekey, London

J.Sheekey, London



Private residence

Private residence



The Ritz- Carlton Residences, MahaNakhon, Bangkok

 

Lobby of Port Baku Residence, Azerbaijan

 

Private residence

Private residence

 

Bob Bob Ricard restaurant, London

Bob Bob Ricard, London

 

The Gilbert Scott restaurant, St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, London

The Gilbert Scott, St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, London

 

Maze by Gordon Ramsay, New York City



Private residence

Private residence

 

The Connaught Bar, Connaught Hotel, London

 

Lime Wood Hotel, Lyndhurst, Hampshire

Lime Wood Hotel, Lyndhurst, Hampshire

 

private residence

Penthouse, Connaught Hotel, London

 

Delaire Graff Estate, Stellenbosch, South Africa

Delaire Graff Estate, Stellenbosch, South Africa

 

McQueen store, Bal Harbor, Miami

McQueen store, Bal Harbor, Miami

 

The Wolseley, London

The Wolseley, London

 


and some of David Collins’ latest projects:

Coffeemania, Moscow, David Collins' latest project

Coffeemania, Moscow

 

The Charles duplex-penthouse, First Avenue, New York City

The Charles duplex-penthouse, First Avenue, New York City

 

The Charles duplex-penthouse, First Avenue, New York City

The Charles duplex-penthouse, First Avenue, New York City


Lately, he was hired by fashion luxury names such as Bergdorf Goodman, Harrods, Jimmy Choo and Alexander McQueen to work on their stores; he also just collaborated with the Italian furniture brand Promemoria on his first collection.




David Collins will be greatly missed. My thoughts are with his family, friends, clients, staff and anyone in his life at this difficult time.

David Collins Studio will undoubtedly turn all their future enterprises into glorious hallmarks that will bear their creator’s unique and indelible style and vision.

A-Gent of Style wishes them continuing success.

 


“CHIC WICKEDNESS”: MCQUEEN & DAVID COLLINS





Entering an Alexander McQueen store is not just entering one of the most world-renowned fashion houses. It is also entering a phantasmagorical and hybrid world composed of hidden references to flora and fauna, 18th C salon Romanticism, the female body, the macabre, Francis Bacon, Rorschach inkblot test, Antonio Gaudi and HR Giger.


That’s certainly what you will get when you visit the 2,300-square-foot new flagship store which was conceived by Creative Director Sarah Burton and David Collins Studio and which opened at the end of last year in the chic shopping mecca of Bal Harbour in Miami.



Burton stated on the new store concept, “It’s very McQueen to see something from a distance and think it’s one thing and then to look up close and discover something else. It’s important to us that everything in the store feels very precious.” 



“It’s about McQueen as a point of view,” Collins added. “The idea of making a dress out of razor clam shells or sheaves of corn, the manipulation of nature to make ornament. We were thinking about eroticism and sexuality. Everything is exaggerated and very slightly distorted.”






Once again, A-Gent of Style fell head over heels for David Collins’ magic touch and the result felt like an assault on my senses…

First and foremost, the palette: an über-chic mix of off-white, black, hints of gold and an envelope of lavender pink.



Two amazing coffered ceilings enwrap the room with layers of subtle light: a spaceship-shaped one at the front of the store with Art Deco moulding and an imposing chandelier composed of delicate pink Murano glass flowers and a more contemporary and curvaceous one at the back with organic contours and a spine-like light fixture. Both of them reminded me of the shapes you would find in the curvy lines of Antonio Gaudi’s architecture and the surreal, nightmarish and fetishistic world of HR Giger and his Alien the Movies designs.






Burton and Collins have used here as well as in their latest store creations the help of Solomon & Wu, an artisanal company that creates bespoke contemporary mouldings. I visited their studio a few months ago after I discovered them at last year Decorex fair on the Fromental‘s stand. I found their work just brilliant and will make a special feature about them very soon.




Solomon & Wu have developed a hugely elaborate and visual vocabulary that incorporates a miniature world made of wings, leaves and scrolls in the confines of a classical panel that becomes the perfect backdrop for displaying McQueen fabulous clothes. They have also developed cast bronze door handles, clothes hooks, feet and legs for furniture in the shape of McQueen’s emblematic skulls but also real animals – lion claws, antelope hooves, gazelle legs – or even imaginary ones.




Brilliantly executed plasterwork that protrudes like an impasto painting and has the similar complexity of the work seen in the facades of Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia. The panels take the shape of wings but also actually incorporate wings along with leaves, flowers and other naturalistic elements. The symmetrical result looks like a Rorschach inkblot test




A-Gent of Style
 has always adored screens in interiors and instantly fell for the majestic Eileen Gray-esque, multi-faceted glass screens that punctuate the store. The dusty pink with a dash of lavender reminds me of The Paint & Paper Library‘s ‘Diva’, the kind of pink you would find in some of Francis Bacon’s paintings. Divine.




Don’t you love the black marble with white veins, perhaps an Empredor, on the floor and also cleverly used on some of the furniture?




“Chic wickedness” doesn’t get any better.


– Thank you to the World Redeye blog for some of the photos –



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