Clive Christian hung a large chandelier over a kitchen island and changed, in a minute, the design of a traditional room.
By Michelle F. Solomon
In the British luxury world, Clive Christian is to interiors what Rolls Royce is to automobiles. Established in 1978, he began making a statement with how he viewed the kitchen. He opened up the space, knocked down walls, and used classical architectural elements that forever changed the way the world viewed a room traditionally reserved for cooking. Transformed, the kitchen became a grand space for entertaining and for family life at the heart of every luxury home.
In Christian’s Architectural Collection, the use of classical architectural elements and introduction of large Italian-marble islands — over which hang crystal chandeliers — is the style that originally set the design world on fire. Bespoke furniture and paneling, commissioned in ivory and walnut and tailored with silver leafing, create a room that should not be reserved for kitchen help, but as a grand room in the home — where morning coffee is poured or hors d’ouevres shared in the early evening before dinner is served inside the majestic dining room.
There, the Empire dining table with gold gadrooned edge and handpainted chairs with ivory monogram silk fabric cushions create a luxurious entertaining space. Gold-leafed columns complement walnut paneling where the Clive Christian fireplace adds yet another dimension. Over the dining table hangs the spectacular Clive Christian crystal 12-light chandelier.
Inside Manhattan’s Carlton House Townhouse at 19 East 61st Street, Christian unveiled the new Alpha Deco design. Christian was one of 21 interior designers taking part in the Kips Bay Showhouse 2016 — where each designer was given six weeks to transform their assigned spaces in the townhome, up for sale for $49.5 million.
The kitchen spoke of signature Clive Christian, which combined the brand’s unmistakable British craftsmanship and bespoke customization to create a space reflective of a glorious era, yet perfectly able to service a modern family.
Handmade cabinetry finished in cool walnut wood and mother-of-pearl accents — plus Christian’s marquetry and veneers, which are at the heart of every one of the British interior designer’s projects — defined the artistry.
Taking further inspiration from the 1930s, Lalique Merles et Raisins — Blackbirds and Grapes — glass panels were incorporated into the mantle, which frames the stove area. They recall the glorious Orient Express and their classic Pullman carriages where Lalique paneling was used to separate different compartment areas in each carriage.
A cocktail cabinet, handcrafted using eight different veneers — including birds-eye maple, burr walnut, sapele, and cherry — uses the same Lalique pattern in a complete pair of mosaic panels.
Personalization is also a hallmark of Clive Christian. In the company’s own workshops in the United Kingdom, hand-painted fine details or elaborate marquetry are all handcrafted. Previous requests have ranged from simple monogrammed letters, Arabian racehorses, and zodiac constellations — all crafted by hand, using a variety of fine woods, precious metals, and exotic materials such as mother-of-pearl.
A home completely designed in Clive Christian style delivers a dramatic punch. In the
Alpha Deco Collection, art-deco elements are included, yet this is part of Christian’s contemporary collection. Much of the styling is based upon geometric linear principles with clean lines and a design that strongly contrasts with the ornate and embellished style of the classical collection.
For his first Kips Bay Showhouse in 2015, the British designer showed off the Metro Deco Contemporary Collection, which maintains the rich black-walnut wood and burr veneers that are his signature.
Luxurious elements of crystal, marble, porcelain, mother-of-pearl, and mosaic flow throughout the master dressing room and bath, which exemplify the taste of the gentleman of the house whose closets are stocked with only the best attire. Plush, cushioned seating creates a comfortable resting place for a sip of the finest Scotch before a night on the town.
Windsor meets Manhattan. An Englishman in New York.