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Five-Star Luxury, Never One Style

Adam Tihany, the design magnate behind Per Se and more world-renowned restaurants and hotels, tells DuJour how he does it all

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“I really, really like clients who cannot express an idea in words,” says Adam Tihany, who’d much rather they cook for him instead. That’s because Tihany’s clients are Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud and Jean-Georges Vongerichten—just to name a few. They’re some of the world’s top chefs renowned for their legendary, reservationist-wardened restaurants, and “they want something original.”

Transylvania-born Tihany—the mastermind behind such iconic spaces as Per Se and Le Cirque 2000—is, at heart, the Italian definition of designer. The first restaurant he designed in 1980 can explain: “The project was La Coupole, a recreation of the legendary Parisian Brasserie and the first grand cafe in New York,” Tihany tells DuJour. “I not only got to design the interiors, but also the furniture, the uniforms, the graphics—everything! I made the discovery that in this microcosm of restaurant design, I could practice every discipline of the profession that I love. I decided to call myself a ‘restaurant designer.’ ”

Decades later Tihany is at the top of the restaurant design business, and his broad range of skill has taken him beyond the dining experience, as a new book out this month titled Tihany: Iconic Hotel and Restaurant Interiors showcases. Right now, he’s leading the restoration of the landmark Beverly Hills Hotel and most recently, luxury cruise line Seabourn tapped Tihany to design the interiors of its latest ship, now being built in Italy and due to launch in 2016. “It is right up my alley as far as choice projects go,” Tihany says. “Seabourn represents the best in luxury cruising, with unparalleled service and customer experience. This is exactly what we do.”

Adam Tihany

Adam Tihany; photo by Bill Hughes

Whatever the project, Tihany’s secret to ensuring a successful venture is, surprisingly, not sticking to one style. “Each must remain unique,” he says of his work. “My designs are portraits of chefs, owners, operators and brands. Every project is site specific and complementary of the chef and his particular style of cuisine.” The fact that Tihany ran his own restaurants for years helps, too, especially in dealing with notoriously mercurial chefs. “My clients see me not only as a designer but also as a restaurateur and colleague,” he says. “Makes the interaction much more fluid and easy.”

Tihany’s relationships guarantee he’ll never have to tangle with a reservationist at the most sought-after spots, but you could very well spot him lunching at The Nomad (“It’s a stone’s throw away from my office and has good food and attentive service”) or on the Upper East Side for dinner. “My wife and I like to hang out at Antonucci, my old partner’s exceptional Italian trattoria. We also enjoy great food at ABC Kitchen, and our favorite Chinese is Red Farm.”

Even Brooklyn isn’t off-limits. “Our foodie daughter lives in Brooklyn and gets us to experiment with the latest and the greatest when she discovers a new eatery.”

Click though the gallery above for a glimpse of Adam Tihany’s work in Tihany: Iconic Hotel and Restaurant Interiors 



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The Rise in Luxury Hotel Restaurants
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