PHOTOGRAPHY HANS FONK | TEXT PAULINE PRINSEN
He is one of the foremost interior architects of recent decades, of his day in fact. He is a master at fusing classical and modern into a timeless totality. And that is also true for his architecture. Thierry W. Despont, who hails originally from France and has his office in New York, has enrich-ed the world with his striking creations. Over the years OBJEKT©International has reported on the maestro’s creative talents and now features a holiday retreat on the Bahamas: a design in which nature and architecture are miraculously united, and in even the smallest details.
The plane takes off from Fort Lauderdale in an easterly direction. It flies quite low over a totally fascinating scene, in every imaginable shade of blue and turquoise, a picture that seems to have been captured beneath a gigantic glass dome. Occasionally a boat’s white wake interrupts the hallucination with reality.
This is the area of the ocean where the islands of the Bahamas are situated – a group of 700 islands and 2,000 cays or keys, of which only around 40 are inhabited. Hardly surprising, therefore, that the sandy beaches and clear waters hold a magical appeal for holidaymakers. In 1973 the islands gained independence from Great Britain and since then have been a member of the British Commonwealth.
On one of the islands Thierry W. Despont was commissioned to build a holiday residence that proves to merge extraordinarily well into the landscape of sand dunes, palm trees and indigenous vegetation. The house actually comprises two volumes beneath pitched roofs and connected by a passageway. It is a symphony of wood and stone, which is demonstrated from the front door on.
“I see myself as a dreamer of houses. I want to make beautiful houses and interiors, but certainly no fancy statements”, according to Despont – architect, interior designer and artist – who confirms that adage time and again in his projects in the United States and countries much farther afield.
The Bahamas house nestles in the dunes leading to startlingly white beaches. It is not large, certainly not by Despont standards, but beautifully proportioned. In fact, the rooms are spacious, partly thanks to the lofty ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows. The interior is a composition of timeless luxury and comfort, in a deliberate mixture of furniture he designed himself plus local accessories. The rooms flow together logically: from the entrance with garden room and living room/kitchen, via a corridor to the wing with the master bedroom and children’s rooms. The appointments and colour palette can to some extent be accounted for by his ‘French-ness’ – both timeless and titillating, unexpected and responsive to the genius loci.