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Peter Marino on Rooting for the Ugly Ducklings

Fleur Burlet

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PETER’S PARIS: Have you ever heard of “Place Vendômarino?”

“That’s what they should rename it, because with the Bulgari store opening on Place Vendôme at the end of the year it’ll be my eighth job there,” laughed architect Peter Marino, speaking at his book signing on Tuesday.

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The architect — who has a busy year ahead, with the opening of La Samaritaine in May as well as the two Dior stores on Avenue Montaigne and Rue Saint-Honoré — has just published a tome on Theodore Deck, a relatively unknown French ceramist who specialized in turquoise varnish.

“These incredible new industrial dyes were created in the 19th century, and they were an explosion of color,” explained Marino. “When I was in architecture school, everybody thought it was really bad taste. But I like anybody who is a bit of an ugly duckling.”

The project behind the book, edited by Phaidon, was to shine a light on Deck, whose work got somewhat lost in art history. “I think he was a great artist, but nobody has ever heard of him!” marveled Marino. “I want to say to people — look what he created! I mean, the guy was unbelievable.”

Marino was signing 100 copies of his book that evening, with the entire sales proceeds going to the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, of which he is a loyal patron. Delphine Arnault, second-in-command at Louis Vuitton, stopped by to pick up a copy and congratulate Marino, as did designer Rick Owens and his wife Michèle Lamy.

“His eye is ruthlessly discerning and witty,” said Owens. “He definitely makes offbeat choices, but they are always studied and learned. He is a great collector of my furniture, which I am thrilled about. To be recognized by such a discerning eye, it’s a triumph.”

Owens was carrying one of Marino’s books, signed by the architect in gold pen. “I’m sure it’s going to be a pretty addition to the library,” he said.

Does he have a large collection of books?

A look of utter disbelief crossed the designer’s face. “Who doesn’t?”

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