You may recognize the deco-inflected globetrotter look of Christopher Guy from the sets of The Thomas Crown Affair and Casino Royale. In the wake of the ribbon-cutting on the brand’s showroom at the New York Design Center, designer Christopher Guy Harrison was on hand to discuss his “contemporary with classical values” style and how he conveys it in an increasingly digital world. We sent writer Nancy Lazarus to pull up a sumptuous chaise longue and observe.
While online platforms have left their mark on interior design in recent years, they’ll never replace the need to discover and experience design in person. Interactive technology has created innovative ways for designers to build their brands and businesses, communicate with clients, go shopping and provide inspiration, said Elledecor.com editor Amy Preiser at last week’s New York Design Center What’s New/What’s Next event.
Digital platforms are certainly not a substitute for perusing a design showroom, especially when it’s a colorful state-of-the-art NYDC penthouse. Christopher Guy Harrison, CEO and founder of Christopher Guy, shared his brand’s approach to digital from his new flagship space. His furnishings have been featured in movies such as The Thomas Crown Affair, The Devil Wears Prada, and The Hangover, and he’s designed hotels like the Bellagio and Wynn Resorts in Las Vegas as well as the Ritz Carlton in Tokyo.
“We need to embrace the internet to add another dimension. At its start, the internet was just an extension of the catalogue,” said Guy. For his business, the web and digital tools have become a priority, and he reported having a dedicated web staff of 20 in his Singapore office. He uses the platforms to showcase interactive spaces, share design influences, and convey different moods.
Guy said he set out to integrate industry news and product design, using mood boards from 1920s Paris as a frame of reference. His goal was to reinvent manual mood boards and wall planners for the digital era. The in-house process led his brand to the iBuild software platform featuring interactive applications, including iWall, iRoom, and iPlan Pro. Users are able to virtually turn the designs around, change wall layouts, and revolve colors.
“The website is no longer the domain of one single company,” noted Guy. One can even selectively incorporate competitive brands, he joked with the audience. His digital tools also allow users to lay in various designs and see items side by side.
For Guy’s brand, it’s also about mood, especially in cosmopolitan cities like Los Angeles and New York. “Websites need to deliver something you want to come back for,” he added. He’s a fan of using videos to “make it exciting,” and online his brand features a video of his new Mademoiselle collection.
To ensure brand longevity, Guy noted, “Websites should also show who you are and what you represent.” He focuses on making sure his collections are clearly understood, both in terms of their essence and inspirations. His brand is known for elegance with an edge, and his trademark Chris-X chairs. A thirtysomething Coco Chanel in Paris served as the influence for his Mademoiselle collection.
Moving forward, Guy’s plans include an increased focus on the global market. He’ll also debut a new CG logo and an updated version of his website tools later this year.
Nancy Lazarus’s last contribution to UnBeige offered a peek inside a model micro apartment at the Museum of the City of New York. Learn about her here.