Living Room and Terrace with view.
Detail of Maison F. Barbedienne urn of gilt bronze.
Mirror reflection from Kogler table of Claude Lalanne chandelier.
Geoffrey Bradfield is a world-renowned interior designer, sought after by Fortune 500 clients and others for whom the firm long ago coined the phrase “silent celebrities,” which include some of the most prominent aristocratic and royal families in the world. Among Bradfield’s many highly celebrated projects are: a major overhaul of Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney’s Westbury, Long Island estate, restoration of the late King Hussein’s mansion in Maryland, and the design of Hollywood director Oliver Stone’s riverside New York apartment.
This impressive body of work has garnered Bradfield countless accolades. He has been named among the world’s top designers by Architectural Digest and appeared innumerable times on the AD100 list. The Robb Report recognized him as one of the Top Ten Designers in World. Architectural Digest also anointed Bradfield a “Dean of American Design.” He was included in the Millennium Issue of the book America’s Elite 1000—the Ultimate List. Among the many honors bestowed upon Bradfield have been the Hyland Award for Design Excellence (2012) and New York School of Interior Design’s Albert Hadley Lifetime Achievement Award (2013). Archbishop Desmond Tutu, in his capacity as chairman of South Africa’s Phelophepa Healthcare Train, presented the South African-born designer an Award for Excellence in 2007 “in recognition of his sterling success globally and his contributions to his country of birth.”
His sixth book, A 21st Century Palace: Jerusalem (G Editions, an imprint of Glitterati Incorporated) offers readers a transporting, virtual tour through an exceptionally dazzling palace. In this volume, we find ourselves in Jerusalem. Few places on Earth have exuded more mystery and power than this deified ancient city. And even fewer designers possess the worldliness and talent to bring that mystery and power into the third dimension in ways that both consider its many millennia of astonishing history and also telegraph a modernity as thoroughly fresh and modern as the current moment.
A 21st Century Palace: Jerusalem tells the story of a 20,000 square-foot penthouse in the old Palace Hotel, which is now the new Waldorf Astoria, in Jerusalem. Bradfield has created an unquestionably innovative interior, embracing both the ancient and modern, rich in imagination and garnished with Biblical reference. The palatial home is simply breathtaking with its exquisite design and panoramic views of the city. Bradfield’s designs complement the environs of the city, while maintaining modern design.He speaks with The Chic about his life in interior design.
Bradfield recalls, “I always knew intuitively what I wanted to do. My first major assignment was in Johannesburg. I designed the apartment of the Impresario, Pieter Toerien. He was my first celebrity client – I was 23 years old and it garnered me a lot of attention. Of course, everything is relative and I was swimming in a very small pond.
“Interior design is a wonderful, fascinating practice. The ability to transform raw space into something that is at once exceptional and highly specific reveals a deep understanding and appreciation for aesthetics and their impact on our lives.
“I find myself in a very privileged position, to be able to work for clients of this stature. I believe, as designers, we are only as good as our clients allow us to be. We are also fortunate to collaborate with some of the world’s top architects—in this instance, Don Goldstein, a man who shares my vision.
“There are certain projects that simply cannot be reduced to a ten-page magazine article. It is almost impossible to capture the full story of this enviable penthouse, overlooking the Old City with views of Suleiman the Magnificent’s Jaffa Gate. This book on Jerusalem has fulfilled a very personal aesthetic. It was my quest and design directive to bring to life a modern lifestyle with biblical references. The photography successfully captures the elusive principle of Ancient and Modern, another important factor in this particular project.
“It was imperative that I understood the unparalleled importance of location. One feels the city is so present. The selections of art embody the uniqueness of the Holy City. The exquisite treasures contained within these walls bridge thousands of years. I wanted the outside setting to resonate on a profound level with the interior.
“An adage I like to embrace is Oscar Wilde’s: ‘All things of beauty belong to the same age.’ Two examples in this particular book stand out: One is the pairing of a Baccarat masterpiece from 1880, the crystal and bronze Le Vaisseau du Désert, placed in the Entrance Hall on a unique ramate Console au branchettes by Claude Lalanne. Similarly, at the end of the long corridor, an extraordinary 1966 Diego Giacometti étagère housing a beautiful collection of ceramic vessels designed by Pablo Picasso. Four great artists from different periods, coexisting in perfect harmony, complementing one another.
“‘Chic’ for me, is a combination of understated, yet daring elements that prove to be timeless. A perfect architectural example is Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye on the outskirts of Paris.
“I inaugurated the A 21st Century Palace series in 2012, a theme rarely surveyed to this extent by the industry. This is the second volume out of the intended five book series. Volume III focuses on an estate in Washington D.C., scheduled for publication toward the end of this year. Each book takes readers on a virtual tour through a particular project, examining in depth its materials, architecture, art collections and antiques, and illustrating the concatenation of ideas and elements that coalesced to create this unique new breed of palaces.”
Claude Lalanne monkey chandelier (detail).
Bradfield’s rendering of the library as envisioned.
The library and view.