Immortal Beloved

Full of eye-popping interiors and theatrical flair, a new book about the David Collins Studio is a fitting epitaph for the British master

A private residence in London designed by David Collins.
A private residence in London designed by David Collins.
Photographed by Michael Paul; all images courtesy of Assouline

Any environment by David Collins leaves an indelible mark on your consciousness. Wickedly glamorous and unabashedly luxe, the spaces he created include an honor roll of iconic restaurants, bars, hotels, and boutiques—from Claridge’s in London to the Ritz-Carlton Residences in Bangkok. Low lighting, opulent materials, and a sense of scale and grandeur pervade his interiors, along with the palette of blues that evolved into his signature. Yet the handsome Dublin-born architect and designer, who died of skin cancer in 2013, managed to eclipse even his outsize body of work. “I do not think of myself as particularly talented,” he writes in the Introduction to Assouline’s new book ABCDCS: David Collins Studio, “but I do consider that I am particularly hard-working and passionate or rather committed to doing my best.”

He was a romantic, and the way he wore his heart on his sleeve always touched me.

–madonna on david collins

Immortal Beloved
The Apartment at the Connaught Hotel in London.
Photographed by Damian Russell
Immortal Beloved
A detail from the London West Hollywood hotel.
Photographed by Thomas Shelby
Immortal Beloved
The Blue Bar at the Berkeley hotel in London. 
Photographed by Luke White
Immortal Beloved
Claridge's Bar in London.
Photographed by Richard Powers

Organized from A to Z and spanning such topics as architecture, heritage, music, and imagination, the volume paints a picture of a man whose generosity was as celebrated as his wit. “David always had a naughty story to tell, or an amusing anecdote or the juiciest gossip,” recalls Madonna in a foreword that does justice to their 17-year friendship. Celebrity associations notwithstanding, what jumps off the pages are the settings Collins dreamed up—public or private, intimate or sweeping. To him, design was clearly secondary to the experience it evoked. “I do not deliberately set out to create something glamorous just for the sake of it,” he writes. “My role is to try to make sure that anything I do has a sense of quality and aesthetics that contribute toward making people feel good about themselves.” —Irene Edwards

ABCDCS: David Collins Studio, by David Collins: $75; Assouline

Immortal Beloved
The Wolseley restaurant in London.
Courtesy of the Wolseley
I'm the former Executive Editor of Lonny.