An architect and designer with activities on all continents, malady Bruno Moinard is an unconditional fan of the Avenue Montaigne. For over a decade, he has coordinated his numerous projects from here.
How did you choose the Avenue Montaigne as headquarters?
I had an office on the rue Pierre-Charron. Then, one day in 2004, walking along the Avenue Montaigne, I saw a telephone number, I called, I visited the site. It had been the office of a Japanese fashion designer, with a view of the Eiffel Tower. To my surprise, I was chosen, the only Frenchman among fifteen occupants! Friends warned me: “If you move your office there, you’ll cut yourself off from your clients”. I began designing the homes and apartments of clients of the Plaza Athénée and, contrary to the warnings of all of the Cassandra’s, my business never wavered. “Avenue Montaigne” on a business card says something to everyone!
You probably began by getting to know the Champs-Elysées?
Yes. As someone from the provinces, originally from Normandy, when I came to Paris, a walk on the Champs-Elysées was fascinating. After having worked for fifteen years with Andrée Putman (with whom I collaborated on the Hotel Morgans in New York, for Cartier and for Chaumet), I went out on my own, and one of my most important missions was to redesign all of the Cartier boutiques around the world, 340 to date, including around 50 in China. The one on the Champs-Elysées was the pioneer. The idea was to eliminate the “bunker” look of a fine jewelry boutique, to open it out onto the street with large glass windows, to create wood paneled safes, and showcases in suspension. And it worked!
At the time, had you already started to work on certain Avenue Montaigne projects?
Yes, I had redecorated the penthouse of Didier Grumbach, who was then President of the Chambre Syndical de la Haute Couture, then the offices of Chequers just above Loewe. I also worked on mounting exhibitions for Artcurial. And at the beginning of my career, when I took part in the conception of Karl Lagerfeld’s boutique, I worked with an architect based on the Avenue Montaigne. My ties with the neighborhood go way back!
Your most recent news is the renovation of the Plaza Athénée.
Yes, I won the commission for the public areas of the hotel. It was one of my most difficult projects! It was necessary to satisfy the most demanding people, the hotel clients, who told me: “Above all, don’t change anything.” It wasn’t really noticeable, but the hotel decor had tarnished. Nonetheless, you can’t jostle an icon, it’s a constant stress. So we did a little surgery, for example, more lighting in the Galerie des Gobelins – I must have done around 30 different projects for this one space! We lowered the ceiling chandeliers, created two new alcoves, re-worked the decorative details in wood, plaster and paper; modified part of the furnishings. In the Relais, we enlarged the bar and renovated the ceiling; in the restaurant, we changed the perspective, gave glitter to the floor, lit up the garden, etc. At the end of the work, people told us: “Perfect, you haven’t changed anything”, while, in fact, we had changed everything!
One of your best clients is headquartered on the rue François-Ier.
I have done a great deal of work for François Pinault, designing the new wine cellar for Château Latour in Pauillac, where it was necessary to merge tradition and modernity, and the headquarters of the auction company Christie’s in New York in 2004.
You sketch and paint often. For you, a desk is a fundamental piece of furniture, and you have also just dedicated a new space to your activity as a designer.
One of the creations of which I am the most proud, is, it’s true, a desk. I designed it
for Jack Lang in 1990. It was subsequently used by Lionel Jospin, Jean-Pierre Raffarin, François Fillon, Jean-Marc Ayrault, when each of them was Premier Minister. Drawing is a necessity for me – in ink, in water colors, all of the time and everywhere, in the office, at my home in Varengeville and when traveling. And I actually just inaugurated a showroom in Saint-Germain-des-Prés where my collection 2015, including sofas, wall sconces, bars, etc. is presented. It is the fruit of more than 30 years of research and passion!
: To read: Bruno Moinard, l’architecte promeneur, texte de Serge Gleizes, préface de Raymond Depardon, Éditions de La Martinière, 2010, 45 €..
To visit: Galerie Bruno Moinard Éditions, 31 rue Jacob, 75006 Paris. www.brunomoinardeditions.com