This is the first post of a series that introduces some of the most influential female designers of the past and present. We look at the women who have shaped the basics for the design industry and continue to set the bar in creativity and productivity, never settling for anything less that perfection.
The designer who epitomized understated French chic. Putman’s career as an interior designer only took off in her fifties she was almost sixty when she created her most famous design, the Morgans Hotel in New York, in 1984. She loved simplicity and loather “pompous luxury”, values established in childhood, when her summers were spent at Fonteany Abbey in Burgundy, a former monastery. It’s austere architecture , she said, “made me very wary of the awful excesses of anything”. At the behest of her musical mother, she studied piano, but abandoned plans to become and composer after Francois Poulenc warned her of the extreme discipline required to succeed. Instead she became an art and style journalist before gravitation towards design.
“I am interested in that family of things that will never date” – Andree Putman
She is known for her interior that were dominated by black and white with touched of glistening chrome and clean lines. The monochrome was an echo of her musical past: for the Morgans hotel she created black-and-white tiled bathrooms with all the graphic punch of a piano keyboard. in 1978 Putman founded her design company Ecart. One of her first projects was to reissue furniture but forgotten Modernist designers such as Elieen Gray and Jean-Michel Frank, “names that I one had to spell, with rage, even to art historians” she noted. She also became associated with fashion, creating shops for Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld, and a line of oversized sunglasses worn with couture suits and a slash of red lipstick, became her trademark. At her funeral last January, it was Lagerfeld who gave the pair of vases filled with white rose blossoms that flanked her simple, blonde wood coffin. Chic to the last.
To learn more about her, pick up Putman Style by Stephane Gerschel.