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Are the Red Coats Coming?

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Clive Christian’s first kitchen, designed in the 1970s, is the Victorian painted in classic cream. Famous for its use of crystal chandeliers and detailed architectural embellishments, it prompted Clive Christian to purchase a factory in the northeast of England where he could make it himself.

Could a Clive Christian showroom be coming to Boston?

The answer is a resounding maybe. The superstar of British brands is placing its proverbial toe in the waters around the Charles hoping that the ripple will reach a proper partner for its line of kitchens, interiors, and furniture. Clive (its website is simply clive.com) does have showrooms and partners on this side of the pond, most notably a corporate-run shop in New York, but no one from headquarters had set foot in Boston in 10 years until last week. Victoria Christian, the eldest daughter of company founder and design clairvoyant Clive Christian, was in town for a meet-and-greet with design industry types at the British Consulate on Beacon Hill.

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Victoria Christian, who represents the company her father founded worldwide, presented the company’s line of kitchens and other architecturally distinctive interiors to guests at the British Consulate. Here she poses with architect Patrick Hickcox of Hickox Williams Architects of Boston.

Despite the recession and slow economic recovery, which, we note, are not unique to Boston, a lot has changed (for the better) in the New England luxury market over the last decade. The time may be ripe for another player targeting super-affluent patrons and Clive Christian’s approach, a mix of opulence, craftsmanship, and tradition, could be a tour de force. Kitchens with gold leafing, crystal chandeliers (Clive was the first to set them dangling above the corbel-supported ogee-edged-wood topped island in his debut 1970s kitchen), and statuary in one’s own image are selling worldwide, so why not here?
One reason, an attendee at the consul’s party posited, is that we have so many fine designers and workrooms right here in New England. Why import? Because, one could argue, there are those who specifically seek out the brand. (Victoria would not reveal any Clive clients, but we did find a report that Rod Stewart and Celine Dion are fans. Our guess is that the brand’s base is more off-the-radar than those Las Vegas headliners, however.) Clive Christian has, after all, been named to the Order of the British Empire for his work in bringing worldwide awareness to luxury UK products. (There was no talk of it between the champagne and the canopies, but Clive Christian also produces what Guinness World Records has deemed the most expensive perfume on the planet.)

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This Architectural Kitchen painted in ivory with black walnut countertops is highlighted with a pair of elaborate chandeliers. Niches with puttis (that can be made in any likeness), and other architectural embellishments can be customized to make this design a bespoke fit for the client’s home.

And while there are Clive Christian showrooms from Singapore to Moscow, everything is bespoke, reminds Victoria. From that first Victorian Kitchen, which prompted Clive to buy a factory where his own craftsmen could create his vision, to baths and closets, to the pared down (for Clive) new Alpha Kitchen line, everything is tailor-made in the company’s workrooms in northeast England to suit each client’s needs, desires, and spaces. Customizing every detail until the fit is perfect is Clive Christian’s trademark. The product is classic, dignified, proud, and sturdy. Sounds pretty New England to us.

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At a client’s request, Clive Christian designed a kitchen that has more modern lines. Here it is shown in English white with soft pastel accent lighting and, of course, a crystal chandelier.

Great design is always at your fingertips — read the September/October 2013 issue online!

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