Jean-Michel Gathy talks personal taste: Part Two

The architect concludes his list of likes with Barcelona’s best galleries, Truefitt & Hill and the pagodas of Bagan

Jean-Michel Gathy
Jean-Michel Gathy | Image: Sebastian Boettcher

My style icon is George Clooney. I like his contemporary classic style; he is always properly dressed without looking old-fashioned or overly trendy. He gets debonair just right.

An object I would never part with is one of Niki de Saint Phalle’s Nana artworks. It is an original resin piece from 1947 of a voluptuous woman in a bikini – it’s very colourful and an icon of contemporary art.

George Clooney
George Clooney | Image: Getty Images

The people I rely on for personal grooming are Truefitt & Hill in Kuala Lumpur, where I live; they are no-nonsense professional barbers. The Majestic Hotel, 5 Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin (+603-2785 8000;

The best gift I’ve received is something done for me from love, such as having patience with all my travelling.


An indulgence I would never forego is visiting art galleries. The first thing I do when I arrive somewhere is ask the concierge where the best ones are. In Barcelona, for example, I like Galería Joan Prats and ADN, which both favour less-established contemporary artists. ADN Galería, Carrer d’Enric Granados 49 (+3493-451 0064; Galería Joan Prats, Rambla de Catalunya 54 (+3493-216 0290;

If I didn’t live in Kuala Lumpur, I would live in a quaint village in the mountains. My life is so dominated by travelling and deadlines that what inspires me most is tranquillity, good, natural food and extended outdoor activities. But this village would need to be near a major city where I could occasionally top up on culture and visit new restaurants. I love the Swiss Alps where I would head to Zürich to eat at Tao’s and stay at The Widder Hotel. In Geneva, I would eat at Patara and stay at La Réserve. La Réserve, Route de Lausanne 301, Bellevue 1293 (+4122-959 5959; Patara, Quai du Mont-Blanc 13, Geneva 1201 (+4122-731 5566; Tao’s, Augustinergasse 3, Zürich 8001 (+4144-448 1122; The Widder Hotel, Rennweg 7, Zürich 8001 (+4144-224 2526;

La Réserve, Geneva
La Réserve, Geneva

A recent “find” is the Apricot Gallery in Hanoi, where I discovered the artist Bui-Hu Hung, whose paintings tell stories. I look for the artwork for each hotel project we do, but if I see something truly wonderful, I buy it for myself. 40B Hàng Bông, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi, Vietnam (+844-3828 8965;

The site that inspires me is Bagan in Myanmar; it is the most beautiful, affecting place. It is 40sq km, with over 2,000 pagodas, many of which are abandoned or in ruins. You just look and melt.

A bottle of Perrier
A bottle of Perrier

In my fridge you’ll always find honey, organic milk and yoghurt, grapes, Perrier, Sauvignon Blanc and sake. Plus various organic foods such as goji and sesame seeds; I am pretty health-conscious.

My favourite room in my house is my bedroom. I travel so much and this is my private retreat. I love the peace and quiet and being surrounded by art I have chosen. Every object and painting has emotional significance. It provides an opportunity for introspection.

Galería Joan Prats
Galería Joan Prats | Image: © Galería Joan Prats

If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose San Marco in Venice, where my favourite brands are surrounded by historic palazzi, canals and bridges. A stroll might take in Louis Vuitton, Loro Piana and Prada, followed by a visit to the Galleria d’Arte Contini and Caffè Florian overlooking the duomo. Caffè Florian, Piazza San Marco (+39041-520 5641; Galleria d’Arte Contini, Calle Larga XXII Marzo (+39041-523 0357; Loro Piana, San Marco 1289 (+39041-522 9367; Louis Vuitton, San Marco 1345 (+39800-308 980; Prada, San Marco 1464 (+39041-528 3966;

If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be a sportsman. I used to perform at national level in several sports – tennis, skiing, track and field – though I’d probably be coaching by now.


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