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If you want proof that “some are born to sweet delight,” as William Blake once augured, look no further than interior designer Alberto Pinto (1945–2012). Seldom does one come across a life so charmed. What he accomplished during his 41-year career of wild, wondrous creation — the extraordinarily opulent yet restrained decoration of palaces, villas, pieds-à-terre, townhouses, corporate headquarters, yachts, jets and hotels — is more than most of us might ever dream.

The projects that came out of his 70-person Paris office were often swashbucklingly dynamic, replete with overscale patterns, bold color schemes, and sumptuous appointments that found favor with Middle Eastern royals and international captains of industry. A study in Cairo was paneled with wood inlaid à la parquet de Versailles, while a Geneva dining room’s Louis XVI scheme seemed to await the arrival of Marie Antoinette.

In 1971, the interior designer founded Cabinet Alberto Pinto, housed in a suitably stunning 17th-century hôtel du Particulier on Place des Victoires (visiting the headquarters on an initial consultation was all but required by Monsieur Pinto, as his staff still call him).

“Most people are afraid of houses on a grand scale, but I’ve always been completely at home in them.”

Which perhaps explains why royals from the Middle East flocked to his door when it came time to decorate a new palace. The Moroccan-Argentine interior designer made Oriental interiors a global fad.

The clients who called on Alberto Pinto for projects came to include European aristocrats, Saudi and Qatari princes and numerous financiers and business tycoons from across the globe. When he died, in 2012, his studio had a staff of 70.


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