U.S. Markets closed

Top Designers Reveal What Notre-Dame Means to Them

Whitney Robinson
Photo credit: Getty

From ELLE Decor

Sadly, the Notre-Dame Cathedral-the iconic Parisian monument-caught fire on Monday, resulting in the collapse of its roof and wooden spire. People all around the world, including design professionals, feel a deep sense of loss over the damage to this architectural treasure. Here, a selection of designers share some of their favorite memories of the Notre-Dame Cathedral.

"Having been born in Paris, and as it for all Parisians, Notre-Dame-almost unrelated to its religious affiliation-is the center of the city. It is her heart. It is where most historical events have happened. This is where we celebrated victories and even defeats for the last 850 years. To see it desecrated, ravaged, and burnt is deeply troubling. It is as if the heart of France herself has been wounded. We all watched and wept, unable to take our eyes away from this horror." - Robert Couturier

"I have lived both part time and full time in Paris for the last three decades and, like most Paris dwellers, felt the sturdy, comfortable presence of Notre-Dame every time I veered towards the Isle de la Cité. Apart from the odd Midnight Mass and Easter Sunday morning service, the interior of the cathedral remained fairly removed from my daily life. This changed about two months ago, when I joined a group of friends on a somewhat lofty, private tour of the cathedral. The stunning beauty and spiritual life of the architecture and glass suddenly came to life and left me in a state of wonderment. Last night, I shed tears. Today, I am full of hope that, from the ashes, the cathedral will rise again, more magnificent than ever. - Alexander Doherty

“I am grateful that I was able to see my children take in the splendor of Notre-Dame not too long ago. The sweep of the interiors, the darkness of its corners, and the reverence of it all, was impossible even for young children to ignore. We each lit a candle for loved ones lost and had a moment. They haven’t forgotten the visit and this recent, epic wound of a fire has cemented for us how lucky we were to be there together as a family.” - Alexa Hampton

“A few years ago, Andrew and I rented a beautiful flat on the Seine, overlooking Notre-Dame. We spent the week appreciating that glorious edifice at sunrise, throughout the day, at sunset, and under the stars. We marveled at how the sun played on its multifaceted surfaces, and the palpable delight in the never-ending crowds who came to pay homage. Notre-Dame had an ancient permanence and stern beauty that we can’t imagine not always having. What a relief that France is determined to rebuild.” - Jeffry Weisman

"It was always an honor, to enjoy the Cathedral's majesty after studying its glorious stained windows, eaves, turrets and balustrades for so many years. I cried a million tears, as sounds of Édith Piaf played in my head. Long live vital architecture, which makes historic cities and times, all they are." - Joy Moyler

Photo credit: Getty

"A building like Notre-Dame acts as a shared nerve between centuries and generations. It is an example of architecture and craftsmanship so electrifying, so awesome. It is a reminder that modern or medieval, we are humbled by beauty and also capable of great things." - Celerie Kemble

"Walking to the top of the Towers of Notre-Dame, you feel like you are traveling through history. Up the claustrophobic spiral steps, once you ascend the top, the views are endless from the Eiffel Tower to Sacré Coeur. It's one of my favorite spots in undoubtedly my favorite city. We have all been so devastated by the news of the recent fire destruction, but at least somewhat relieved to know these iconic 800-year-old towers are still intact. With any tragedy, somehow there’s always a ray of hope. The unified spirt that was felt during this heartbreaking event was somehow uplifting and, without a doubt, we all know Notre-Dame will rise again.” - Mark D. Sikes

"Notre-Dame was the first cathedral I took my three boys to on their first visit to Paris. I remember so clearly their tiny little drawers literally dropping! We all lit candles, which has since become a tradition. It's one those iconic buildings seared into the DNA of anyone fortunate enough to have seen the building. How lucky we are." - Kathryn Ireland

"Now, more than ever, I’m struck by the sublime idea and integrity of the flying buttresses; the stunning presentation of essential support for this jewel that once again unites generations of witnesses to follow in kind." - David Kaihoi

Photo credit: Anne Hepfer

"My first visit to Notre-Dame was in July 1988. I was a 15 year old exchange student living with a French family for the summer. I remember being in awe of this magnificent, enormous, impressive gothic building. It really is quite powerful in size and scale with its graceful flying buttresses, vaulted arches and Corinthian columns, which create incredible drama. It’s also a curious home to the enchanting gargoyle creatures, thought in medieval times to ward off evil. Eleven years later, I was finishing my degree at Parsons in Paris for the summer, studying French Architecture. Our class spent hours at Notre-Dame studying, discussing and sketching. I still have one of my rough charcoal sketches, dated 7 Juillet 1999. I hope to visit again when the cathedral is rebuilt in all its glory after this tragic fire." - Anne Hepfer

('You Might Also Like',)