Concorde's luxury designer and boutique hotel pioneer Andree Putman dies at 87

Her creativity was writ large - in Concorde jets, boutique hotels and even a luxury tower in HK

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 21 January, 2013, 4:51am


Andree Putman  1925-2013

The internationally acclaimed French designer Andree Putman, whose many achievements include revamping the interior of the Concorde jet, died at her Paris home. She was 87.

Putman helped coin the concept of the boutique hotel, gave her name to a skyscraper in Hong Kong, and designed movie sets and designer stores in a career that spanned nearly seven decades.

Seen by many as the Grande Dame of French design, she was the subject of a retrospective at Paris city hall in 2010.

Her daughter, Olivia, who now runs the Putman design studio and who curated the show, said Putman "became a style ambassador in spite of herself - she just did her own thing, she would never have claimed such a role".

From her upbringing in a wealthy, art-loving home on Paris's Left Bank, to summers spent in the family's historic abbey in Burgundy, Putman was born into a world of refinement.

But her first design project - her bedroom - marked a break with her milieu when, aged 15, she emptied it to get rid of all objects associated with the social-status-conscious past.

Despite showing promise as a pianist, she signed up as messenger girl at women's magazine Femina and began gravitating towards the design world.

The 1960s and 1970s brought her marriage to the art dealer Jacques Putman, her discovery of the art scene, and stints in a design bureau that launched such designers as Jean-Paul Gaultier and Issey Miyake.

But Putman truly came into her own after divorcing her husband, setting up her own design firm, Ecart, in 1978 - and hungrily embracing the Paris night scene where she cut a distinctive figure at the age of 53.

She was the first to re-edit pieces from the 1920s and 1930s, restoring figures such as Eileen Gray to global prominence.

High-profile projects flooded in through the 1980s and 1990s, such as designing stores for the likes of Guerlain or Yves Saint Laurent, movie sets for British director Peter Greenaway, and revamping the Concorde interior in 1994. She was commissioned for the Putman skyscraper, a luxury apartment-hotel complex in the heart of Hong Kong.

One of her most emblematic projects was the 1984 revamp of the Morgans hotel on Madison Avenue - including her signature black-and-white bathroom tiles - creating what star architect Jean Nouvel dubbed the world's first boutique hotel.

She has been honoured in portraits and collages by Andy Warhol and Karl Lagerfeld.