In the realm of the sublime

Refined details, perceptive interfacing of art and design, delicacy of forms and exquisite style make every project by New York-based architect Peter Marino a mise en scène of elegance

Peter Marino - Photo © Manolo Yllera
Peter Marino - Photo © Manolo Yllera
DATA SHEET

Portrait photo: Manolo Yllera
Projects photo: Manolo Yllera (Bulgari 5th Ave, Chanel Ginza Namiki, Lehmann Maupin Gallery, The Lobster Club), Evan Joseph, March (The Getty, New York), Stephane Muratet (Louis Vuitton Place Vendome)

A protagonist of contemporary creativity, a devotee of beauty in all its forms, and one of the world’s leading art collectors, the architect Peter Marino never fails to get noticed thanks to his eclectic look, accentuated by a constant, signature accessory: the black belt. His sophisticated vision of design unfolds through exclusive details and precious materials, interacting with a selection of works of art that establish a dialogue with the interior design, in persevering pursuit of magnificence. From the boutiques of fashion houses like Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Dior and Bvlgari, to the collections designed for the historic Venini glassworks; from the works of architecture for luxurious private residences – including the new Getty in New York, facing the High Line – to art galleries, 5-star hotels, gourmet gathering places and enchanting resorts. The quintessence of luxury, narrated by a contemporary master.

Boon the shop, Seoul

Many – if not all – of your projects connect art world with design. Can you talk about that?
The very real value of what I bring to architecture is my fine-art background and my interest in fine arts, my involvement with artists, and the way my career was launched with artists. My involvement with artists is why my projects are good, and why people like looking at them.

How and when was your passion for art born?
I was drawing from a very early age – I had a pencil in my hand and was drawing from three years old. I did a special study of art in high school, which meant I had four hours of art every afternoon after school. And I got the gold medal from Mayor Lindsey for a painting I did in 1966. After high school, I went to study at Cornell – a program I chose because the college of art and architecture was one. I took two years of sculpture. My fine-arts background enables me to intertwine the two. An interesting background is what can make each architect different, make their buildings more individual. Calatrava was a medical student. Mongiardino was a set designer.

Lobster Club, New York

How would you define your vision for hospitality projects? a recent example is The Lobster Club restaurant in New York City. What led you to take on the project in such a famous building with a lot of history?
I love The Seagram Building and the opportunity to re-create an atmosphere that I so enjoyed in the past was too good to pass up. It’s one of my favorite buildings in New York and one of the most elegant buildings in contemporary architecture in the world. Part of the design process was to respect Mies but to evolve the space into a playful experience without losing sight of the restaurant’s history and the midcentury detailing. For me as a young adult in the Seventies, the original Brasserie was where all of us went after [Studio] 54 and had breakfast at 4 a.m., 5 a.m., 6 a.m. Everybody was there. Now our intention was to design for flexibility and different times of day. If you look at the leather curtains they all go back in the wall, so it’s all white for breakfast, half the leather curtains for lunch, and then at night all the leather curtains close. The Seagram Building since its inception has always been interested in integrating artwork into the space. Not just the restaurant, but the Plaza itself, the Seagram’s had a huge collection. Art for the restaurant wasn’t viewed as just an add on, but an integral part. In some ways you can say the restaurant comes from the art, rather than the other way around. The artwork that comes from our studio has continued to rotate, so there is always something new – this approach brings a new level of interaction to the restaurant.

Bulgari 5th Ave, New York

Louis Vuitton Place Vendom, Paris

Chanel Ginza Namiki, Tokyo

And how does this perspective translate to flagship stores? You work for the most important fashion, and fine jewelry companies in the world. How does your work with artist play into that, it certainly has a major presence?
It provides a triple reflection. The art must be super high-quality because, number one, a good piece of fine art reflects the owner’s attitude toward the customer – it says, “We’re going to show you an incredible amount of respect.” It also reflects on the merchandise. A department store will put a poster up on the wall – what does that tell you about the quality of their goods? You think, “Posters. Second rate handbags.” If you’re in a store looking up at a giant Michal Rovner video of the incredible gas fields of Kazakhstan, you’re thinking, “I’m looking at something of quality. I’m not looking at cheap goods here.” It communicates that the product is above and beyond what you might expect at another store. So, it puts everything in context. What I always say is that my architecture is a brand advertisement, because if only one out of every four people who go into a luxury store purchases something, the goal is that the three people who aren’t purchasing have a really worthwhile experience and leave with a positive attitude toward the brand.

The Getty, New York

And then for residential; The Getty building in New York City is not just a residential building created by the ‘art architect’ but actually contains 4 stories of gallery and foundation space.
The Getty is a new 56,400 sq ft building in Chelsea which utilizes one of the last available corner parcels in the former manufacturing neighborhood, with views onto and from the High Line park. It was named for the Getty Gas Station which used to be at the intersection of West 24th Street and 10th Avenue. Chelsea is known as the premier art gallery neighborhood in NYC and with The Getty it makes complete sense that art is integrated into every aspect of the building, in terms of apartment living. The first two floors are occupied by Lehmann Maupin Gallery, the following two floors the Tom Hill Art Foundation. Then 5 residences above. The purchaser is drawn into the creative process, by being able to select a one of a kind residence. The buyer becomes the curator. As a building the façade is something of a sculpture – a combination of structures rather than a layered apartment design. For the apartments you have double height ceilings, an abundance of natural light, designated art walls reinforced to support hanging and installation.

Lehmann Maupin Gallery

You are developing an art foundation, which you publicly announced last summer. Can you tell us about your plans for the space in The Hamptons?
The building and site is 11 Jobs Lane in Southampton. I was very distraught to see what had happened to the building. The American architect, R.H. Robertson who has done a number of major buildings in Manhattan that you can still see – and in the former Rogers Memorial Library he designed one of the best buildings on Long Island. The exterior is historic – the interior unfortunately was never landmarked, so we will focus on restoring/renovating that. It will be restored to the original intention of its generous founder and save the village from further commercialization. It will be a premier spot for art on the East End of Long Island.

Residence, Southampton

The vases and lamps for Venini translate one of your symbols: the black belt. What caused you to work with Venini?
Venini’s Murano based techniques date back to the 13th century. Venini has a strong history of working with architects and allowing collection to be unique to each designer. The vases were made using Venini’s Murano glass-making techniques, incorporating the “asbruffo” (puffed) and “sommerso” (submerged) processes. The black bands wrapped around each vase were created by pulling and laying them hot on top of the glass. For how it represents me? I tried as hard as I could! I got the black to look as much as a leather belt as I could!

You’ve begun to be known for your books, (Peter Marino Art Architecture, Phaidon, 2016), your commissions and work with artists…I understand you have something coming out again soon?
In October Phaidon is releasing Théodore Deck: The Peter Marino Collection. More than 250 pieces are included from my collection. Deck was a central figure in the revival of ceramic art in France – and one of the most important ceramic artists in the 19th century.

Black Belt for Venini

Theodore Deck – The Peter Marino Collection

What are the retail and hospitality projects you are creating now? And other projects that will come?
We have over 40 projects underway. This fall we’ll open a new Louis Vuitton flagship on New Bond Street in London, one in Seoul, and another in Sydney. We’re working on La Samaritaine – our scope includes the transformation of the historical building into a 72 room luxury hotel with rooftop suites, restaurants, gardens overlooking the city. Two new flagships for Bulgari are underway in Paris – and houses for private clients are in design and under construction all over the world, just to name a few!

Your favorite buildings in New York?
The Seagram Building. Lever House, The former worldwide headquarters for Pepsi-Cola. For residential: The Dakota, 740 Park Ave, 322 East 57th Street.

You dream of designing…?
An opera house. We won and completely designed an opera house in Palm Beach. Before it was built the project was cancelled due to the tech crash in the late 90s. Mine is not always a happy profession.

Is there an artist you feel similar to your own creativity? And specific artists that inspire your work?
Kiefer for his amazing textures. Instead of paintbrushes, he pours and creates incredible work with lead and clay. Richard Prince for his sardonic commentary on the decadence of our culture. Damien Hirst for his dealing with the big themes of life, death, god, beauty and nature. Y.Z Kami for his poetic spirituality. Michal Rovner for her video presentations of humanity.

You have designed so many projects. What is your secret to staying creative?
I garden. I go the opera. I ski. I read art history. I go to galleries and museums non-stop. I travel. I play tennis. I collect sculpture. I visit artist’s studios. As Chairman of the Board of Venetian Heritage I go to Venice every year. That is enough inspiration for 1000 lifetimes.