Prolific and talented designer Christopher Guy Harrison died on August 19, 2020, after battling lung cancer for 21 months.
He leaves behind a remarkable legacy of luxury decorative design around the world.
We spoke to the Dubai-based team who worked with him to find out about the impact on the region of the man they say drew inspiration from being exposed to different and diverse cultures.
Tell us about how Christopher brought his brand to the Middle East
"With a clear objective to create uniquely beautiful furnishings that appeal to an international audience, Chris embarked in the mid-90s with a fabulous mirror frame collection under the name Harrison & Gil. It was received with astounding acclaim and quickly grew into a complete lifestyle and luxury collection, rebranded in 2007 as Christopher Guy.
"A contemporary mood with classic values, his designs bridged a gap between contemporary and classical, and set him apart from the pack, fusing timeless elegance with a cosmopolitan lifestyle and Art Deco elements.
"Signature designs include the silk-slice that can be seen on several chairs, dining tables and cabinets, as well as the patented Chris-X (pronounced criss-cross) leg design. This trademark feature is seen throughout his collections, inspired by the female silhouette and the pose of a ballerina.
"His creations soon established him as one of the world’s most prolific and talented designers. International exhibitions like Maison & Objet, and the Milan Salone Del Mobile gave the brand visibility and propelled it to the worldwide stage of luxurious interiors.
"The young brand was a disruptor in its category, offering a contemporary twist on classic designs, with a touch of glamour and opulence that resonated especially well with the designers and high-end clients coming from the Middle East.
"This paved the way for the brand’s entrance to the region, facilitated by Chris’ long time Emirati friend, Sultan Al Qiwani. The collection was introduced in a showroom in Saudi Arabia, followed by Kuwait, Qatar, and Dubai.
"Since 2017, CG’s regional showroom and Design Lab found home in Dubai’s Design District, offering members of the industry, as well as end clients a workspace to create projects and select bespoke furniture."
What about the region did he enjoy?
"Chris made many friends in the Middle East. He mingled happily with people from all cultures and walks of life; his warmth and charisma contributed to the success of the brand. He was a regular at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, as well as the Dubai Design Week. A lover of architecture, he admired many of the buildings in the UAE, especially Burj Khalifa, and had the greatest appreciation for the leap and progress that the young country had experienced in a short span of time.
"Chris embraced luxury in all aspects of his life. With an uncompromising sense of style, he ensured that each and every one of his creations captured beauty and elegance in every detail.
"He enjoyed art, culture and film and his talent was welcomed by Hollywood, with many Christopher Guy pieces being featured in several productions, including Casino Royale, The Devil Wears Prada, Ocean’s Thirteen, Tomorrow Never Dies, The Thomas Crown Affair, Charlie’s Angels, Rocket Man and many others."
Tell us about the legacy he's left behind
"Today the brand is present in 42 cities across the globe. His furnishings grace some of the world’s most exclusive residences and high-end hotels, including the iconic Savoy Hotel in London, the Wynn Resorts in Las Vegas and Macau, the Ritz Carlton in Tokyo, the Presidential Suite at the Beverly Hills Hotel, the Rixos Hotel in Abu Dhabi, the One and Only Suites in Dubai, the Faisaliyah Hotel in Riyadh, to name a few.
"Chris was also awarded the centenary refurbishment of The Georgian Restaurant in Harrods, a landmark project involving what is undoubtedly the world’s most famous department store.
"Chris was the recipient of numerous international awards, including the British Interior Design Association’s ‘Outstanding Design Award’, and the Las Vegas Design Centre’s prestigious ‘Design Icon Award’. For his many outstanding contributions to the arts he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles in May 2014'
"He was diagnosed with lung cancer in late 2018. The illness did not affect his creativity or his work ethic; he never stopped working and used his last 21 months to safeguard his company and the future and livelihoods of his employees, assembling a management team that would secure the success of his business without him at the helm.
"Chris felt that he had experienced a wonderful life and in his own words: “a life that hasn’t been easy but has been absolutely fascinating all the way. I have done everything that I wanted to do, I have seen all the places that I wanted to see, met so many interesting people, made so many excellent lifelong friends.'"