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Andrée Putman, Beyond Style To Open at the Embassy of France in New York
Anne Fontaine New York Boutique 1 (Courtesy Anne Fontaine).

NEW YORK.- Twenty-five years ago, Andrée Putman revolutionized the world of style. Her innovative design for Morgans, the world’s first boutique hotel, ushered in a new approach to luxury: it became sleek, minimal, contemporary. For its 25th anniversary, Morgans will be re-imagined and updated by the "High Priestess of Style,” as the press has dubbed her, for a September 10 re-launch in which she will pay homage to her original design, with its iconic black and white palette, while boldly re-interpreting it for today’s guests. On this occasion, the Cultural Services of the French Embassy will mark Putman’s illustrious career with an unprecedented retrospective of her designs, including the new Voie Lactée grand piano (pictured below), which will make its first appearance in America.

Andrée Putman – Beyond Style will go beyond being a mere exhibit. It will be Ms. Putman’s take on the Payne Whitney mansion, on which she will stamp her distinctive style. Blue lighting will bathe the halls and objects chosen by the curator, her son Cyrille Putman, giving the exhibit space a soothing aquatic aura. Most importantly, it will be another celebration of French-American cultural exchanges, specifically of Ms. Putman’s strong transatlantic ties. Commissioned by an American, Ian Schrager, to design Morgans, Ms. Putman, who counts New York fixtures Warhol and Louise Bourgeois among her closest friends, says "To me New York is the most vibrant city. It's where many things started, and for me too." Andrée Putman – Beyond Style will follow in the footsteps of several other recent exhibits at the Embassy’s Cultural Services that have celebrated the French-American cultural connection, such as Jean-Michel Basquiat – French Collections, Bob Wilson in France, Happy Birthday Pierre Paulin, and the Guerlain Collection.

One of the exhibit’s centerpieces will be the new Voie Lactée grand piano, which Andrée Putman recently designed for France’s Pleyel, the oldest piano manufacturer in the world. The 7.12–foot Voie Lactée was unveiled on June 12, and made an appearance at President Sarkozy’s Elysée Palace for this year’s Fête de la Musique, and for his investiture as the European Union’s president. The exhibit’s other highlight will be the innovative Parrot wireless digital photo frames which will cover two entire walls. Released this July, these state-of-the-art high-tech frames, designed to display hundreds of digital photos in a slim, elegant manner, will showcase hundreds of photos covering Ms. Putman’s entire oeuvre.

The other pieces on display will include an Hoesch bathtub with Morgans-style faucets, the Elephant bench, a Crescent Moon 300 canapé, Clair de Jour and Towel Caddy chairs, a Trois Carats et Demi coffee table, a confidante and a desk designed for Poltrona Frau, a Luminator and an Altère lamp, a Taquin mirror, Dessinsux music stands that will display models and materials used by Ms. Putman, and a Glaçon platform on which will rest several of her designs.

Andrée Putman, who has been called a “national, living treasure” by former Minister of Culture Jack Lang, is known for the eclecticism of her projects as well as for her elegant yet facetious style. She has designed fashion and luxury stores (for Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint-Laurent amongst others), hotels, restaurants, office interiors for French ministries (Culture, Education, Finance) and business leaders, private homes throughout the world, skyscrapers (including the brand new The Putman in Hong Kong, whose reception is on the last floor so that no one misses the incredible view), and the 10th anniversary VIP lounge in the Stade de France (named Espace Andrée Putman in her honor). She has also worked for the Guggenheim New York and the Universal Exposition in Seville, designed the interior of Air France’s Concorde and the scenery for Peter Greenaway’s movie The Pillow Book, and reinterpreted Louis Vuitton’s classic steamer bag.

The September 10 unveiling of her redesign of Morgans is eagerly awaited. In it, she retains the freshness of her original monochromatic black and white palette but reinterprets it with rich gradations of white, gray and black tones. Indeed, she has kept the rooms’ architectural characteristics intact but changed the color scheme and furnishings, introducing a series of objects, such as an armchair upholstered in wool, a metal-inlaid Corian table and a new lacquered aluminum chair, produced by Emeco. The bathrooms, a signature design feature of Morgans, retain their strong, visual identity and update their striking black-and-white checkered pattern, combining the evocation of the 1930’s and the digital age, referencing oversized pixels. New design additions include an art installation, commissioned by Ms. Putman, created by the French design collective Trafik.

In addition to Morgans, Andrée Putman’s latest New York undertaking is the Anne Fontaine boutique which just opened on Madison Avenue, and which will be outfitted with a spa in 2009. She has several other projects under way throughout the world, including a hotel in Paris, apartment hotel towers in Dubaï and Hong Kong, private homes in Paris and Brussels, a furniture collection which will be presented at the “Frieze Art Fair," and a collection of eyewear to be launched in October. Ms. Putman has just been named the first president of the new Paris Design Committee, which will advise the French capital’s mayor on matters of design for street furniture and public facilities.

Andrée Putman – Beyond Style was made possible thanks to the generous support of the Andrée Putman Agency, Pianos Pleyel, Parrot, Baldinger Architectural Lighting Inc, Reflex Angelo, Maharam, Morgans Hotel, Asia de Cuba, Air France, the Cultural Services of the French Embassy and FACE (French American Cultural Exchange).

We would also like to thank Baccarat, Baldinger Architectural Lighting Inc, Christofle, Emeco, Parrot, Pianos Pleyel, Ralph Pucci, Reflex Angelo, Space Lighting and Zwarovski for agreeing to lend their pieces for the exhibit.

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