Timothy Corrigan – Simple Elegance

Timothy Corrigan’s interior design philosophy is elegant in its simplicity: surround yourself with beauty that can be cherished and appreciated every single day. 

  Photography by Nicole LaMotte
Photography by Nicole LaMotte

“What’s the point of having a beautiful room if you don’t use it on a regular basis because, despite its beauty, it doesn’t fit the way you live?” he asks. “We all respond to visual clues throughout the day without necessarily realizing it. So any time you stop to appreciate something — a piece of art, a beautiful fabric, a flower arrangement — you are in essence practicing gratitude. That is what art has the ability to do, and how I strive to live each day.”

It’s a philosophy that’s brought Mr. Corrigan global acclaim to be one of the world’s premier tastemakers. As founder of Timothy Corrigan Inc., he’s the first American designer honoured by the French Heritage Society for his restoration work of landmark buildings in France, and one of only nine designers named on Architectural Digest’s international list of top 100 architects/designers for nine consecutive years.

Yet there’s an almost boyish charm to Mr. Corrigan’s smile when he says his ah-ha moment came after he realized his “night job” designing houses was far more interesting and satisfying than his first career, in advertising. 

“I was so removed from the creative process that I could have been selling paper clips,” he says, laughing at the recollection. “It’s easy to let yourself slip into an autopilot way of living, and when you do that, you stagnate. Exposing yourself to new ideas or putting yourself in situations that feel unfamiliar stretches you as a person.”

A fan of the classical elegance of European design, Mr. Corrigan says he’s also drawn to the laidback ease of the California lifestyle. Mixing the two periods and styles, then adding a generous dash of playfulness, has created the lively, inviting style that’s become his signature look. “We’ve all been in formal, uptight spaces that scream ‘Look, but don’t touch.’ Adding an unexpected touch of whimsy counteracts that feeling and immediately helps set people at ease. After all, no one wants to live in a museum.”

A self-confessed auction junkie, Mr. Corrigan typically spends at least half an hour each day combing through art catalogues, either in person or online, for unique treasures that will breathe life into his designs. “Each style of art creates a different ambience,” he says. “For example, landscapes are calming, portraits are intriguing and modern art is exciting. A stark white room comes to life with a pop of colourful modern art, while classical art can make a space feel elegant and sophisticated.”

Art, he stresses, also needs to be fluid to be fully appreciated. “Don’t ever feel you have to keep everything in the same place forever. We actually stop “seeing” an object when it stays in the same place too long, so moving your pieces around means you’ll actually enjoy them more.”

Corrigan’s Favourite Things:

Corrigan’s classical tastes walk hand-in-hand with antique treasure hunting, with two of his dearest fids being a massive 1940s table by Jean-Charles Moreaux in his French chateau, and a c. 1975 mahogany cabinet depicting, in porcelain, 32 great Greek gods and philosophers, in his Los Angeles study. Though Corrigan boasts a diverse art aesthetic, classical artist John Singer Sargent currently takes the spotlight. A furniture fave is the simple Saltworks chair he designed for Schumacher, along with the icy “Cap Ferrat” fabric he used to drape the walls of his Paris bedroom. At home, the designer loves to kick back with a book: “My favorite is George Eliot’s novel Middlemarch about maintaining one’s humanity in the face of an increasingly technological world,” or entertain with his Timothy Corrigan Star Collection for Royal Limoges. Going out may mean seeing a play — Barry Lyndon is a love for its beautiful set design, or perhaps jetting off to Paris for inspiration, or the French countryside, where his soul-soothing home, the Château du Grand-Lucé, awaits.

Text by Susan M Boyce  

Translated by Tiantian  

Produced and Edited by Many Ngom