It would be reasonable to expect the headquarters of Liaigre to be an exercise in architectural elegance. But astonishingly – and despite having 26 showrooms in 11 countries – this is the first time in its 35-year history that this supremely sophisticated French interior design brand has had a dedicated headquarters at all.
Just one of several new developments underway as the company evolves following the recent departure of founder Christian Liaigre and the sale of his eponymous group, Liaigre’s beautiful new Parisian premises finally bring all teams together under one single roof for the first time.
For longtime followers and clients of the maison, the exit of Liaigre’s founding visionary might ring alarm bells. Can the process of handing over the reins of a well-established design brand ever be a good thing? While Christian Liaigre’s interiors have become synonymous with discreet and understated luxury, the question of whether the quality of work that defined such projects such as the Mercer Hotel in New York, the Motu Tane in Bora Bora or the Vertigo Yacht might be diluted under the new management, is a pertinent one.
A Liaigre designed residence
Just as has been his approach with his clients’ yachts, homes and residences, however, Christian Liaigre has been preparing the transition with meticulous attention to detail and the long view in mind.
Beginning seven years ago with the sale of a majority stake of his group to Edmond de Rothschild Capital Partners, in 2014, he appointed his wife Deborah Comte-Liaigre and Frauke Meyer as co-artistic directors of the group, the former in charge of the collections and retail and the latter in charge of the design studio and interior architecture projects. Last year a group of investors led by Symphony International Holdings and Navis Capital Partners completed the acquisition of the group.
To step through the doors of the new, beautifully appointed 18th-century HQ on the Left bank, then, is to enter the world of Liaigre today, where consistency of creative vision is not only crucial but now fully enabled. Where previously different departments and designers were located in disparate offices and studios, it is clear that the changes at the top have enabled some big operational improvements.
A Liaigre designed residence
Anne Schuhmacher, Liaigre’s director of marketing and communications, explains: “As a house of creation, and a very consistent one, we need to draft creative directions in the exact same location: architecture, interior design, products, lay outs, graphics, and so on, so that Liaigre can continue to provide a very strong offering. Having everybody under the same roof helps a lot in this direction: sharing feelings, eyes, convictions and backgrounds to obtain a consistent and unique creative gesture.”
It’s not just a physical shift, Schuhmacher says, but a cultural one, as the interior design brand Christian Liaigre morphs into contemporary luxury business Liaigre. And as the beautifully-heeled and longstanding team floats up and down the four floors of the new HQ via its central oak-floored staircase, surrounded by ancient cedar paneling and impeccably sourced artworks and objets, this culture is clearer than perhaps it has ever been.
Liaigre’s new HQ CREDIT: ROMAIN LAPRADE
Pressed to divulge what these stylistic changes might be, the design team – which is still led, after all, by Christian’s wife and business partner Deborah Comte-Liaigre – is clearly fiercely protective of the brand’s legacy.
“Our will is to preserve the beautiful and internationally respected heritage Christian is leaving to Liaigre,” says Schuhmacher. “Liaigre is a success in terms of both image and business. We want to cherish this. We also want to re-express the modernity of our style: going back to our roots, to what made Liaigre so successful 35 years ago. It was the first brand to embody effortless chic for interiors in the most exclusive and elegant way.”
The new furniture and accessories collection already point to this direction without being overt in their references. The idea, says Compte-Liaigre, is that “they create a feeling of harmony, whilst maintaining the Liaigre style of timelessness and subtle luxury”.
Material samples at Liaigre’s HQ CREDIT: ROMAIN LAPRADE
In the studio, surrounded by inspirational imagery and the finest materials from marble to cashmere, the collections are thoughtfully designed and conceived before they are handmade by Liaigre’s network of world-class craftsmen across the world.
The furniture has been handpicked from a selection of projects Studio Liaigre has designed around the world. Having spent years researching new ideas and inspirations and creating innovative bespoke offerings for each house, yacht or hotel they turn their attention to; from the architectural structure of the property, through to the lighting and accessories, Liaigre’s bank of gorgeous individual pieces of furniture is enormous. It is the favourites among these pieces that will make it to the London showroom from September, in a collection that includes a desk, an armchair and a chair.
Liaigre lacquered trays CREDIT: ROMAIN LAPRADE
For those who can’t wait, the new accessories are available now, and include marble trays, lacquered trays and cashmere plaids – all designed to add “the expression of sophistication and simplicity to a room”. Meanwhile, more new developments are due to be announced in the coming months, not least the announcement of a flagship new Liaigre «house» coming soon to the Rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré. Watch this architecturally elegant space.