Thierry Despont talks personal taste: Part Two

The architect and designer rounds off his list of likes with Givenchy, the Italian island of Palmarola and dreams of space travel

Thierry Despont at his office in New York
Thierry Despont at his office in New York | Image: Circe Hamilton

My style icon is Hubert de Givenchy, a dear friend and design genius, particularly of haute couture. He’s also an incredible connoisseur and avid collector of beautiful art and furniture. He has always inspired me to a higher level of excellence.

Despont’s tortoiseshell AR Trapp reading glasses
Despont’s tortoiseshell AR Trapp reading glasses

The last item of clothing I added to my wardrobe was a brown tweed suit from Brunello Cucinelli. I like its unstructured but slim cut. I wear suits every day and I tend to favour Italian tailoring. $4,015; www.brunellocucinelli.com.

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A recent “find” is the Italian restaurant Roc near my office in Tribeca. I love everything about this place: it is casual yet discreetly elegant, the service is excellent and the chef will basically cook anything you want, your way. The spaghetti carbonara and steak with broccoli rabe are particularly delicious. 190A Duane Street, New York, NY 10013 (+1212-625 3333; www.rocrestaurant.com).

Roc restaurant in Tribeca, New York
Roc restaurant in Tribeca, New York

An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is the tiny Italian island of Palmarola in the Tyrrhenian Sea. I was fortunate to be able to enjoy this mostly uninhabited part of the Pontine Islands from a friend’s yacht. There’s one small beach with a reef and a quaint village with one not very good restaurant. We loved everything about this place – especially a cosy, relaxing dinner set in an abandoned house with opera playing in the background.

The island of Palmarola, Pontine Islands, Italy
The island of Palmarola, Pontine Islands, Italy | Image: Getty Images/DeAgostini

An object I would never part with is a pair of round tortoiseshell reading glasses that I had custom-made at AR Trapp in New York. As I love books and writing, these glasses are indispensable. From $290; 488 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10022 (+1212-752 6890; www.artrappopticians.com).

Flight of the Eagle: A Strategic History of the United States by Conrad Black
Flight of the Eagle: A Strategic History of the United States by Conrad Black

An indulgence I would never forego is a long walk on the beach, either near my home in the Hamptons or on the Ile d’Yeu off the coast of western France, where I have another house. I find this peaceful time and the light – on either side of the Atlantic – both inspiring and restorative.

Hubert de Givenchy
Hubert de Givenchy | Image: © Julie Dennis Brother/Corbis

If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose the Left Bank in Paris. Librairie Alain Brieux is wonderful for scientific books; Assouline has a beautiful selection of more contemporary tomes; Barthélémy is an amazing cheese shop with a wonderful atmosphere; and Muriel Grateau is a boutique full of handmade porcelain and linen in beautiful colours. After an afternoon’s shopping, I love a good meal at the classic bistro Le Voltaire. Assouline, 35 Rue Bonaparte (+331-4329 2320; www.assouline.com). Barthélémy, 51 Rue de Grenelle (+331-4222 8224). Le Voltaire, 27 Quai Voltaire (+331-4261 1749). Librairie Alain Brieux, 48 Rue Jacob (+331-4260 2198; www.alainbrieux.com). Muriel Grateau, 37 Rue de Beaune (+331-4020 4282; www.murielgrateau.com).

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The people I rely on for personal grooming and wellbeing are my hairdresser Karin Jacobs at Hiro Haraguchi, who has been cutting my hair for 25 years, and my personal trainer Armando at the New York Sports Club. Hiro Haraguchi, 41 East 57th Street (+1212-593 3030; www.hiroharaguchi.com). New York Sports Club, 151 Reade Street (+1212-571 1000; www.mysportsclubs.com).

The books on my bedside table are Flight of the Eagle: A Strategic History of the United States by Conrad Black, a brilliant history of US diplomacy and the country’s founding fathers; Cyber War: The Next Threat to National Security and What to Do About It by Richard A Clarke; and Paul Jankowski’s Verdun: The Longest Battle of The Great War, which provides an engrossing account of this pivotal, bloody conflict.

If I didn’t live in New York, the city I would live in is London. In my dreams, I’d live in one of those amazing houses in Kensington Palace Gardens. I love visiting the V&A for decorative arts and textiles and the Royal Academy for more contemporary art, as well as the furniture and antiques shops on Pimlico Road such as Soane Britain and Ciancimino. London’s restaurants are fantastic, too: Cut at 45 Park Lane is one of my favourites – it serves the perfect burger – and I like to have a drink at the old-fashioned fumoir bar at Claridge’s that I helped to restore. Ciancimino, 85 Pimlico Road, SW1 (020-7730 9950; www.ciancimino.com). Claridge’s, 49 Brook Street, W1 (020-7629 8860; www.claridges.co.uk). Cut at 45 Park Lane, W1 (020-7319 7467; www.45parklane.com). Royal Academy, Burlington House, Piccadilly, W1 (020-7300 8000; www.royalacademy.org.uk). Soane Britain, 50-52 Pimlico Road, SW1 (020-7730 6400; www.soane.co.uk). V&A Museum, Cromwell Road, SW7 (020-7942 2000; www.vam.ac.uk).

If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be an astronaut. I would love to travel through space and walk on the moon – and to be the first to design houses there.

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