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Remembering Robert Kime, the esteemed British decorator and AD100 Hall of Famer

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Given the outpouring of grief and disbelief on Instagram last week at news of the death of 76-year-old British interior designer and AD100 Hall of Famer Robert Kime, it’s pretty clear that he was revered – not a word too strong, I think – by the world’s top talents, many of whom could be considered competitors. Some of the eulogies they published were: Hero, Genius, Master, Teacher, Legendary, Inspiration, Remarkable, Great, and Esteemed. For many, his London boutique is a sanctuary, and his products, from antiques to fabrics to wallpapers and more, are unmistakable and aesthetically essential.

Why? For one thing, Kime’s rooms were as homey and as modest as the man himself. Even when he was tapped to shake Highgrove House for the Prince of Wales (apparently with cheerleading from the future Duchess of Cornwall), the results were heritage-rich rooms everyone could feel deeply in. comfortable and gently stimulated. Ditto for his work at Clarence House, the royal couple’s digs in London and one of the reasons he was made a Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order in the 2004 New Year’s Honours. His international commissions included the House of French campaign by fashion entrepreneur Tory Burch, which was featured in the March 2020 issue of The world of interiors.

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During a photoshoot for Home & Garden in 2005, textile designer and decorator Robert Kime perched on a chair covered in his Indian Pear fabric, while rolls of printed fabric and antiques filled the room.

Photo: Fritz von der Schulenburg

“Robert was an extraordinary designer and one of the most charming men in the world,” Burch writes via email. “He was elegant in every sense of the word, and his sense of beauty was simply unmatched.” Kime and Burch also worked together to create a collection of fabrics and wallpapers based on Japanese documents – and they chronicled its development on my old podcast, AD Esthete. Burch adds, “I will miss my brilliant and dear friend.”

What Kimes’ interiors didn’t appear to be was professionally decorated, which might confuse many observers. They seemed put together over time, relaxed even, and that overused word: moving. His eye was unfailing, ever since his well-to-do childhood in Hampshire. Kime grew up among collectors and remembers as a university student having to sell family assets to make ends meet when his mother and stepfather’s marriage fell apart. A constant interest in archeology and history followed him throughout his life, and it is often said that at the age of 18 he returned from an eventful trip to Iran with two carpets so thin that more than one expert was amazed. that Kime had recognized their value at such a young age and managed to bring them back to London while battling amoebic dysentery. A career in the antique trade was born, followed by one in decoration.