Christian Liaigre , islander extraordinaire

World-class furniture and interior designer and decorator Christian Liaigre, with residential projects for Calvin Klein, Karl Lagerfeld or Valentino, and interiors for New York’s Mercer Hotel or Selfridges of London as just a few samples of his work, needs no introduction. He is also the author of the iconic (and often copied) Nagato stool, a rough-hewn oak tribute to Brancusi’s stone pedestals, which Liaigre discovered at age 17, on a visit to the sculptor’s atelier, accompanied by Giacometti. One envies the man’s signature style, deceptively austere and simple, underscored by his passion for texture, finishes and exacting craftsmanship. And we are tempted to blame him for the run on wenge wood, the dark African timber synonymous with luxury furnishings today exploited to the risk of extinction. Except that Liaigre’s source is an old stock of railroad ties…

One pictures the elusive Christian Liaigre evolving in the select circles of Paris’ 7th arrondissement, of Hampstead or Silom Road, more readily than in a Saint-Barth beach house. Ah, but the sand, unique light and salt marshes here echo the île de Ré of his childhood, with its peasant roots and fishing culture, preserved from tourists at the time, like Saint-Barthélémy before the airplane. Think of the artist’s fascination with islands, as in Gauguin and Tahiti, Jacques Brel and the Marquises… Liaigre, between Ré and Saint-Barth, is a living link to both sides of the Atlantic. What if these two isles were precisely the key to his style? Island light, pristine sands and sea salt, subtly sun-bleached colors, magical driftwood, stands of reeds rustling in the wind… And his perfect sense of proportion, intrinsically linked to island life where everything counts, and is counted, except for sunlight, space and the vast expanse of ocean.

With his clean-lined designs, as precisely crafted as the work of a shipwright, and other pieces as delicate as twigs, Christian Liaigre sketches out his own “Possibility of an Island”, drawing weary jetsetters of New York, Paris and Bangkok under his soothing spell. And then there is Saint-Barthélémy, of course, where he has created an islander’s retreat for his own pleasure and that of his guests. But those outside his intimate circle can also bask in his style: at his Gustavia showroom where one can purchase his latest creations, or at Le Sereno, a sublime boutique hotel completely redesigned by Christian Liaigre.

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