Christian Liaigre, Minimalist Interior Designer, Dies at 77

Mr. Liaigre was born on Aug. 10, 1943, in La Rochelle, France. His father was a veterinarian, and his grandfather, for whom he worked for a decade after attending the École des Beaux-Arts and the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, bred horses.

He is survived by his wife, Deborah Comte-Liaigre; their son, Leonard; and a granddaughter. His daughter, Virginie, died last year.

Mr. Liaigre’s design roots were French Modernism, Asian furniture, African art and riding hardware — bridles, saddles and stirrups. Many compared him to Jean-Michel Frank, the early French minimalist, but “with less ennui,” as Mitchell Owens, the decorative arts editor at Architectural Digest, said in an interview.

“Liaigre’s work had a butchness to it,” he added. “It was very male and very architectural.”

Decades earlier, Mr. Owens had interviewed Mr. Liaigre about how his upbringing had influenced his work He recapped the interview on Instagram:

“We talked of his childhood near La Rochelle, his potent memories of his veterinary surgeon father’s tools and of accompanying him from farm to farm throughout the Vendee, his respect for woodworkers and love of chestnut and oak trees, and his belief in furniture that, no matter how reductivist, held the whiff of the terroir in its design.”

Former employees described Mr. Liaigre as a quiet, meticulous teacher whose drawings were always perfectly to scale. “He felt that to get the proportions right, the only way to do it was by hand,” said Kirstin Bailey, a designer in Mr. Liaigre’s studio in the 1990s.

Mr. Liaigre sold his company to a group of investors in 2016.

“To say that he was detail-oriented would be a gross understatement,” Mr. Balazs of the Mercer wrote in an Instagram post. “‘Obsession’ would be far more apt.”

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French interior designer Christian Liaigre dies aged 77

Christian Liaigre, who fashioned homes for the likes of Karl Lagerfeld and Calvin Klein, has passed away at the age of 77.

The French creative and founder of design studio Liaigre, died on Wednesday 2 September. As an interior designer, he was revered for his restrained aesthetic approach.

Employing clean lines and natural materials throughout each of his projects, Liaigre’s style was seen as particularly unusual when he emerged in the 1980s.

“Christian Liaigre preferred to let his designs speak for themselves,” said Liaigre’s studio in a statement.

“He created furniture and objects that reflected his dedication to beauty, a search for balance, an accuracy for proportions and perfection in the detail,” added the studio.

“His luxurious no-frill designs impressed a demanding international clientele on a quest for authenticity.”

Liaigre had few public-facing projects

Born in 1943 in the French coastal city of La Rochelle, Liaigre started developing his knowledge of the design sphere when he enrolled in art school Beaux-Arts de Paris at age 17, before going on to study at L’ecole des Arts Décoratifs.

Liaigre established his eponymous studio in 1985 and opened the doors to his first showroom on Rue de Varenne in Paris’ seventh arrondissement.

Five luxury villas around the world by French interiors studio Liaigre

Initially, the late designer only made furnishings but soon went on to develop entire interiors for residences, holiday homes, offices, as well as the cabins of jets and yachts.

His rare public projects – such as the 1990 overhaul of Paris’ Hotel Montalembert, and 1997 revamp of New York’s Mercer Hotel – meant that Liaigre was known on both sides of the Atlantic, yet he largely preferred to work with a roster of private clients.

“Surrounded by the best craftsmen, he imagined and delivered spaces that expressed simplicity, sincerity, a modern and timeless style, alongside a natural attention to wellbeing,” said his studio.

Liaigre eventually stepped down from his studio in 2016, handing over the position of creative director to long-term collaborator Frauke Meyer.

“His taste and style was unmatched”

When studio Liaigre announced their founder’s death over Instagram, tributes poured in from notable industry figures. Designer Ronan Bouroullec recalled meeting Liaigre at L’ecole des Arts Décoratifs and him showing interest in one of Bouroullec’s early furniture models.

“He was so gentle, so simple and nice with me. Someone formidable,” Bouroullec wrote in a comment.

Hotelier Ian Schrager also commented, “there is only Christian [Liaigre] and no one else”.

“The world is less without him. To me, he was the best and most talented designer in the world.” Schrager continued. “His taste and style was unmatched and his refined simplicity and elegance stood above everybody else.”

Belgian architect Vincent Van Duysen additionally took to Instagram to celebrate the life of Liaigre, revealing he had been a fan of the late designer’s work since the end of the 1980s: “Since then, he’s been a great source of inspiration to me, not only as a creative mind but also as an overall

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Remembering Christian Liaigre, the Legendary French Interior Designer



a man standing in front of a store window: Christian Liaigre, the iconic French designer whose clients included Calvin Klein, Karl Lagerfeld, and Larry Gagosia, has died.


© David Lefranc – Getty Images
Christian Liaigre, the iconic French designer whose clients included Calvin Klein, Karl Lagerfeld, and Larry Gagosia, has died.

French interior design legend and entrepreneur Christian Liaigre, known for his romantic minimalist aesthetic and whose clients included Larry Gagosian, Calvin Klein, and Karl Lagerfeld, has died at age 77. We asked design-world luminaries to share their thoughts of Liaigre and the legacy he left behind.

“He was such a visionary. As a designer I have always been inspired by his work and loved incorporating his thoughtfully modern and timeless designs into many of the residential spaces I have designed. He cared so about the details, high quality materials, and craftsmanship. This is a huge loss for our community.” — Sheila Bridges, interior designer

“Christian’s passing is such a loss for the world of design. He had an incredible point of view that was distinctively his own. I was always inspired by his warm style and the way he could balance designs that were equally understated and impactful. I always thought of him as our generation’s Jean-Michel Frank and I have no doubt his legacy will live on for generations to come.” — Brad Ford, interior designer

“There’s a stillness to his aesthetic that’s welcoming and warm and his Île de Ré residence captivates me most. Like many of us, Liaigre’s living room table often doubled as his work area—a place where masterpieces were created. What a gem he was.” — Chanae Richards, interior designer

“Although widely known for his hospitality design, Christian Liaigre was among the most influential and widely copied designers of furniture and residential interiors of the 20th century. His artful distillations of forms inspired by Brancusi and Ruhlmann popularized luxurious materials in forms inspired by African sculpture and Art Deco. His powerful palette of neutrals set the tone for what consumers wanted for many years, and still looks fresh today.” — David Duncan, lighting designer

“Many designers help move us along, only a few move us forward. Christian Liaigre did just that. He understood the dignity of the design process and the responsibility of designers, architects, and craftspeople to keep evolving.” — Jeffrey Bilhuber, interior designer

“Christian was a dear friend and a lovely soul with incredible taste. He is a master in creating elegance and comfort with impeccable style. We will miss him and his genius but his work will endure far beyond his lifetime. My family is fortunate to live in a home he designed every day. Thank you, Christian.” — Wendi Murdoch, entrepreneur and client

“Christian Liaigre marched to his own drum creating a seamlessly integrated environment that was both minimal and enriched at the same time. Never distracted by pyrotechnics, he created spaces and the components of spaces that stand the test of time. We all still look up to him and thank him for his stewardship and understanding of what’s important—and above all what’s human.” — Lee F. Mindel, architect and interior designer

“Liaigre is somewhere in

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