Monica Geran -- Interior Design, 12/1/2001 12:00:00 AM
HE TELLS IT BEST in his own words, touching on his formative days in the west of France, where he was born, and alluding also to the tools and methods of his adult career: "Those years of contemplation," says Christian Liaigre, "have generated a creative spirit based on the use of materials such as wood weathered by the sea and the sand, as well as fine leathers worked according to the traditions of saddle making. He upholds the principles of understatement and simplicity yet is apt to interweave a touch of poetry, both in his work and his manner of speaking. And if there's something he does not like, as, for example, seeing little difference between fashions and interiors—the last-named encompasses furniture, a major factor in his business operations—he's equally outspoken. His bête noir is the use of superfluous decorative elements that fuss up spatial integration. On the positive side, his idea of a civilized atmosphere is being able to feel comfortable and to "find one's own place."
Some think of Liaigre as an interior designer, a designation he freely alternates with decorator; others identify him mainly with furniture. (Actually, his fabrication facilities extend to a wide variety of home objects. For a small sampling, see the dining facilities in the Ocean Club/Bahamas report, October Interior Design.) Although he credits Maison Nobilis, the company that commissioned his first furniture line, for building his reputation in this category, one suspects that his preeminence in the field was inevitable. Favorite woods are wenge, wacapou, wamara, and ebony from Africa, and more traditional timbers such as white sycamore and oak.
Liaigre studied at the Paris Academy of Fine and Decorative Arts, then taught drawing techniques at the Academy Charpentier. This was when memories of artists like Brancusi and Giacometti were still alive. But when, in the 1960s, the cultural climate radically changed, he quit the city and returned to the countryside. Back again in the early '70s, he did his Maison Mobilis stint; in '87, he opened his own studio. Currently he employs 13 interior designers and architects; Virginie Liaigre, his daughter, is the press attaché. Major completed jobs include the Market restaurant in Paris and the Mercer Hotel and the Rupert Murdoch residence, both in New York. As it happens, domestic housing on several continents presently predominates among projects in work. In Liaigre's vocabulary, global is indeed a household word.