Patrick Gilles and Dorothée Boissier celebrate the art of living, striking a balance between chic restraint and decorative effect.
Dorothée Boissier and Patrick Gilles’s definition of luxury:
Dorothée: Being alive
If luxury were:
Dorothée: Looking deeply and intensely into the eyes of Patrick
Patrick: Any moment with our children and being together
Dorothée: Anywhere with Patrick
Patrick: My mind, our mind
Dorothée: It would be a fantastic character who was a combination of all the people that I love.
Patrick: My family, Dorothée, Félix and Zoé
Dorothée: A non-object
Patrick: My pen and my watch
Exemplifying a fine romance, the couple met while working for the celebrated French designer Christian Liaigre more than a decade ago. Dorothée Boissier, an interior architecture studies graduate, left the restrained minimalism of Liaigre to later work with the unbridled whimsy of Philippe Starck, while architect and product designer Patrick Gilles established his own architectural practice. In 2004 the couple founded Agence Gilles et Boissier, a joint studio specializing in architecture, interiors, furniture and graphic design. Since its inception just five years ago, the couple have amassed a stellar roster of clients, from hotelier Ian Schrager’s Riande Hotel, currently under construction, to the award-winning restaurant chain Hakkasan and their most noteworthy projects to date, New York’s Buddakan and Lan Club Shanghai, a four-story colonial style monolith dedicated to fine dining. Their ability to fuse the polar opposite styles has won them an impressive following among both eastern and western clients.
Lan’s first two floors pay testament to the country’s cuisine, including the new Orchid Supper Club, and Michelin-star winning chef Yves Mattagne’s much touted fourth floor French seafood restaurant, which has become a favorite among the city’s gourmands. Rising to the challenge of imbuing such a vast space with an intimate and inviting atmosphere, the couple admit, “It was a question of balance, organization, inspiration and work, work, work,” says Patrick. “And by listening to our emotions,” adds Dorothée.
Hakkasan’s Miami outpost and Steakhouse 54, a high-style twist on traditional steak fare, are the latest feathers in the caps of the Paris-based architects. Furthermore, a W Hotel and a spectacular renovation of a hôtel particulier in Paris are currently on the drawing board.
Residential projects take them beyond the confines of commercial architecture.
So impressed was Remo Ruffini - founder of luxury activewear brand Moncler - by the couple’s execution of his luxurious homes, that he commissioned them to create a “floating home” – the interior of Ruffini’s luxury yacht Blackwood – not to mention the DNA of the burgeoning brand’s retail stores around the world. “We met Remo and Francesca Ruffini seven years ago, we learned and progressed together, and became friends. It is a very nice, good working relationship; we don’t need to have thousands of meetings,” notes Patrick.
Reinforcing their fashionable credentials, the agency was responsible for the sartorially-inspired, suitably stylish home of the successful London-based fashion entrepreneur, Joseph Ettedgui and his wife Isabel. Honing in on the couple’s previously overlooked collection of African art, this became the focus of the layout and a linchpin in terms of decoration. “The first idea that Patrick had was to highlight the African collection because in the previous home it was not really seen, they never really looked at this collection, so we placed them in the center so that you have to see it, to go to the kitchen, the living room, they are the focal point of the apartment,” recalls Dorothée. “I would say the most impressive aspect of this apartment is the view from the kitchen, to the collection room, to the living room. I love this view because the life is there. It’s really important not just to do a nice apartment but to create something very lively. It was an honor when Joseph told us, “this is like my best costume sur measure” (made-to-measure suit),” she adds.
The incorporation of art within architecture is a common element within the couple’s portfolio, as artistic collaborations are par for the course of many a project. Patrick lays claim to hailing from artistic stock – his uncle was the artist xxxx. While architects traditionally cite masters such as Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe, Gilles looks to the arts for inspiration “We are more inspired by film makers, such as David Lynch, Luchino Visconti and Alfred Hitchcock, and painters like Louise Bourgeois, Julian Schnabel and photographers Joseph Sudeck and Sugimoto. We are also inspired by writers, and by life.”
Although the couple is currently adjusting to their latest grand project, the arrival of their second child, their work environment seems no less calm. The studio boasts concurrent projects around the world, from residential projects in Italy, to a datcha in Moscow, in addition to a further Hakkasan – this time in Abu Dhabi. Could their success be contributed to a winning formula, born out of a marriage of styles from polar opposites? While Patrick continues to favor a more restrained style, possibly a reflection of his time spent at Liaigre, Dorothée’s input is more flamboyant, or as Patrick defines it, “We are like hot and cold water, it could be very explosive” – or possibly the perfect temperature?
the relationship with the client is the major part of the project, you have to really understand them, to like them, respect them, and to stick with their idea and forget our ego.