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Mon 3 Mar 2008 04:17 PM

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Designer insight: Andrée Putman

With the sheer number of residential projects currently under construction in Dubai, the question is how do developers outpace their rivals in a bid to attract buyers' attention? Well, it's all about the interior design of course. And who better to add a touch of class to a project than the ‘Grand Dame of Modernism' herself, Andrée Putman.

With the sheer number of residential projects currently under construction in Dubai, the question is how do developers outpace their rivals in a bid to attract buyers' attention?

Well, it's all about the interior design of course. And who better to add a touch of class to a project than the ‘Grand Dame of Modernism' herself, Andrée Putman.

Remember the buzz when Emaar recently announced its partnership with Giorgio Armani to create the ultra-lavish Armani Residences in the Burj Dubai? The latest to follow in this trend is Abyaar Real Estate who has signed an exclusive contract with one of the world's leading interior designers, Andrée Putman to inject her innate sense of style into its Acacia Avenues project.

The development, which is the only one to be situated in the Jumeirah area, bills itself as the ultimate in luxury living. It's a claim that is bandied about far too often in Dubai, but with Putman's unmistakable vision of elegance, clarity and wit behind the design, the interiors promise to be something really special.

In fact the designer herself insists that when the first phase of the development is launched in 2009, it will be unlike anything Dubai has seen before. "Honestly, there is nothing in Dubai, which can compare to this development," says Putman. "We are bringing a higher level of sophistication and creativity and an exacting attention to detail, which is what the firm I founded is known for. Our wish was to create something spectacular and to take part in the exciting story of Dubai. Each of the units we are designing is unique in its style and in its level of creativity."

She describes the concept as "an interesting mix of yesterday, today and tomorrow." Emphasis was placed on the high-tech nature of the interiors, but Putman stresses, "we worked on the comfortable and luxurious idea that technology has to be visible or invisible depending on the preference of the user."

Acacia Avenues is Putman's first venture in the Middle East and the designer says she was thrilled with the opportunity to work on a project in Dubai. "It was a great day for us when we received Abyaar's proposal as everyone talked about Dubai and its amazing history. It is always exciting to work in a city that is like a permanent ‘work in progress'."

And luckily for us, it seems we could be seeing a lot more of the legendary designer's work in our part of the world from now on. "We are in the process of structuring our firm to take advantage of new opportunities in this region of the world," says Putman. "This is one of the most dynamic regions in the world, attracting the kind of clientele we're looking for: wealthy but discerning and with a desire to own outstanding properties."
About Andrée Putman

Born in Paris in 1925, Andrée Putman has come to be known as the "Grand Dame of Modernism." With an illustrious career spanning several decades, in the all encompassing world of design there are very few areas in which Putman has not impacted with her quintessentially French style.

Originally a design journalist, then a stylist, Putman really made her mark on the design world with the launch of her Paris studio ‘Ecart International' in 1978 which became famous for reissuing the works of then-obscure designers from the early 20th Century.

So it's all thanks to her that pieces by forgotten creatives such as Eileen Gray, Mallet-Stevens, Pierre Chareau, Mariano Fortuny and Jean Michel Frank were re-introduced to the design world.

Her interiors, every bit as stylish as she, span three continents and include retail spaces for fashion heavyweights such as Karl Lagerfeld, Yves St. Laurent, Thierry Mugler and Cartier, the office of Jack Lang, France's former minister of culture, and her renowned concept for the Morgan's Hotel in New York - which led to the birth of the boutique hotel.

Many more hotels have since followed. She is also responsible for the Bordeaux Museum of Contemporary Art's transformation from a 19th Century warehouse.

Her ever-expanding portfolio of products carrying her signature encompasses flatware, silver, crystal, tableware, textiles, carpets and rugs, towels, sheets and even mannequins.

The gorgeous Putman Hotel, built entirely to her specifications opened its doors in Hong Kong in June 2007 cementing her reputation as an internationally acclaimed designer of legendary status.
10 Minutes with Andrée Putman

What inspires you?

The more you see and do by travelling or by having life experiences, the more it will open your eyes. The number of jobs and activities I have are complementary. I think it is impossible to dissect the reasons of inspiration, because it is the result of one's point of view determined by all the aspects of one's personality, both conscious and unconscious. All of my achieved work seemed like a dream before it happened. Dreams lead you very far.

Do you have a design philosophy?

An infinite attention to detail. Details are more important to me than spectacular effects, as I always keep in mind how things age quickly. I would say also a feeling of freedom and simplicity sometimes almost hiding the elegant details that you notice later in time. I believe more in surprises and warm atmospheres than a strong definition of what you call personal style. I like the idea of being irreverent and free.

Is there anything you would love to design that you haven't yet?

The inside of a plane. I already did the interior of Concorde for Air France in the 1990's but I have never worked in that field again, I really enjoyed it.

How and where do you like to relax?

It took me a lifetime to be a fan of my city, Paris. The beauty of the city is overwhelming especially while crossing from one side of the bank to the other with la Gare d'Orsay; l'Ecole des Beaux Arts, l'Hotel de la Monnaie et l'Académie Française, la Sainte Chapelle et Notre-Dame. I like to go to art galleries, unexpected shops, and try new food experiences. In the USA, some people think I am a typical Parisian. In fact I shock the Parisians. They are too often hostile to avant-garde art.

What do you love most about your home?

I had a clear idea of what I wanted to achieve for my home. I decided to leave it empty with islands of objects and art, to create a space that would make me feel happy and free. I have never liked rooms and closed doors, I enjoy flexibility. Its an industrial space that has never been like what people expect of the traditional rules of a house. My intuitions dictate me to break rules whenever I feel like it. I also wanted to push the lighting experiments as far I could go.

What books do you have on your bedside table?

Ten books are waiting for me....

What designers have most influenced you?

Eileen Gray, Mallet Stevens, Herzog et De Meuron.

Where did you last go one holiday?

I am not familiar with the idea of holidays, but I spent a few days this summer with my daughter and my grand-sons in her beautiful house surrounded by olive trees in the south of France.

What else are you working on at the moment?

We just achieved a dream house in Miami for a daring couple. In a few months the brand of Anne Fontaine [fashion designer famous for her white shirts] will be in a beautiful space in Manhattan on Madison Avenue after two launches in Tokyo and Paris. We have even just created a piano for Pleyel!

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