The interiors star is famous for his opulent style, which he employs in hotels and restaurants from Marrakech to Miami Beach, as well as in spaces for private clients like the Sultan of Brunei. This fall, he journeyed to High Point, North Carolina, for the semiannual furniture market to introduce his latest collection for Baker. We caught up with him there.
1. Why did you decide to work with a U.S. manufacturer instead of a French company, given France’s great tradition of ebenistes [master craftsmen]?
Here in the United States the quality is much better than in Europe. And in America there is both quantity and quality. Ebenistes were famous in the past for their individual pieces but not for mass production. And Baker has not only craftsmen but also salesmen.
2. You are famous for your wonderful color palette. But for this furniture market you made everything white. Why?
For 15 years I’ve been known as a person who worked with a broad range of colors and used elaborate materials: velvets, brocades and damasks. I reinvented this look in the ’80s. So it was time for a change, time to go back to pure form.
3. Why is it the right time for pure form now?
It’s because shape is global. Americans, Europeans, Russians, Chinese, Japanese, Arabs. It doesn’t matter where they are from—they all want the same thing.
4. Is there a reason why you think this is true?
They go to the same hotels, which are all decorated the same way. They eat at the same restaurants. They shop at the same couturiers; fashion today is international. Airports—they’re all the same. Aesthetically, national identity no longer exists. From that we conclude that people want simplicity, luxury and elegance.
5. How do you define luxury?
Luxury is the simplest thing in the world: It is knowledge. Otherwise it’s only money. People get rich in four years and know nothing except that they have $50 billion. Their sole reference is the hotel room in which they stay. And their decorator tells them that if you don’t have this Picasso, you don’t exist.