The Paris-based director of Cabinet Alberto Pinto, the acclaimed interior design firm originally founded by her late brother Alberto, is famed for refashioning The Lanesborough. She reveals what inspires her.
I like to have one really beautiful trip a year to somewhere where you can discover something new. I particularly love the refinement of Japan – it’s very simple and minimalist. I couldn’t live in a minimalist interior in Europe but in Kyoto it’s completely different – we go to a wonderful ryokan called Tawaraya. It’s so elegant. I love bamboo, and when you see it in the forest it’s so beautiful, so tall and thin but also so powerful. Everything there is perfect: when you arrive, the room has been prepared, your bed is faultless, there are small containers for water… just chic, chic, chic.
I’m not a real collector, but I love monkeys. I have a lot on my desk and at home – some are from Japan and lots are in bronze. I get them from auctions, shops and as presents from friends. I have a huge one at home; I can’t remember where I found it. I think it started because when Alberto and I were young, a friend of ours had two real monkeys at home. They used to wear sweaters and pull them off over their heads just like people!
I’m waiting for my youngest grandchild to be old enough so that I can take them all to Africa on safari. That’s my plan.
You can learn a lot from India: I find all the fabrics and embroidery, the marble floors, paintings in the temples, and the inlays so inspirational. When you see beautiful ladies at dinner there, the saris don’t have to be the most embroidered, but the way they dress, the way they arrive, dripping with jewels, and the men with turbans and jewels… just incredible. I know Rajasthan very well but I would love to explore other parts. The beauty of the people in the streets is amazing, the positivity of life. Visiting there takes you inside yourself.
Morocco has been a big influence in my life. I think the fact that Alberto and I were born there really opened our minds.
If you ask me, Paris is the chicest city in the world. New York is more booming, London more international, but Paris is the most chic. I live here and I have so many favourite places. Although there are so many wonderful grand hotels like Le Bristol Paris, I go to small bistros like Chez L’ami Louis the most often. It’s a very old place; you can’t change it. If you change the décor or the food then you lose everything. I also love Le Duc, a fabulous fish restaurant – just real Parisian places.
When I really need to rest, the best thing is a holiday on a boat. You go with four or five friends, and you don’t have to make any effort – no shoes, no make-up, nothing. It’s bliss…
Our office takes on very eclectic projects – contemporary, classic, whatever our clients want. Personally, I like an interior to feel warm. With clients, it’s about interpreting what they want, even when they’re not sure how to explain it. Of course we need inspiration, but everything starts with talking to the client. After that, things develop naturally.
When we design the interior of a plane, it’s a very small space, so the work has to be of incredible quality – very good wood and fabric. Everything has to be tip-top, because it’s like a jewellery box. You have to remember that boats and planes are just like toys to the client, and they tend to be very involved with the project.
I love Bali, especially its spirituality. You really feel something powerful there. I can stay for hours in those temples, admiring all the beautiful women dressed in amazing colours, giving offerings to the gods.
With The Lanesborough hotel in London, the idea of the renovation was clear: the interior had to be very English, and it had to be brought back to what it was supposed to be. It was a very big space, super dark – that was the first thing we noticed when we arrived. So our main thought was to add in some light, to redo all these very English ceilings, and to create the main salon. Now people think it’s always been like that.
I’m very particular about my bedlinen. I really love antique sheets and I like the pillows to match, and then I just like to have one very special cover sheet on top. I have everything pressed each day and it has to be super clean. It might sound strange but I have to have a perfect bed all day long. This is what I call raffinement français!