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21 August 2014

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Restaurant designer David Collins dies

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restdesign3 - david_collins_10.jpgDavid Collins – undoubtedly the biggest name in the restaurant design world – has died after a short illness. The 54-year-old had been diagnosed with skin cancer three weeks ago; his death, which took place in the early hours of this morning, was due to complications caused by the cancer.

Collins’ signature dining rooms are some of the most well-known and luxurious destinations in the capital, and include The Wolseley, Claridge’s Bar and The Blue Bar at The Berkeley. His style was opulent, rich in colour and glamour, and famous for its attention to detail: for The Blue Bar, Collins commissioned pieces in a unique shade of periwinkle blue – one of his favourite colours.

Collins trained as an architect in his native Dublin, but moved into interior design after graduating. In 1985, he founded David Collins Studio, which established itself as the go-to agency for projects throughout London and globally, including Bob Bob Ricard, J Sheekey and Restaurant Gordon Ramsay and, more recently, Bassoon bar at The Corinthia, The Diamond Jubilee Tea Rooms at Fortnum & Mason, and Brasserie Zédel.

Both the studio and the man behind it have won countless awards, including designer of the year accolades from House & Garden, Elle Decoration and Wallpaper magazines. Madonna was a huge fan of The Blue Bar (pictured, below left) – so much so that she reputedly had Collins design a version of the bar for her own house.

blue bar at the berkeley 2012 - The-Berkeley_TheBlue-Bar_2012_resized.jpgKeith Barker-Main, Square Meal contributor and Metro columnist, was a friend of Collins.

‘I first met David when he was a student,’ he told Square Meal. ‘Here was clearly a kind, reflective, stylish lad with a cheeky glint in his eyes and a stream of delightfully dry observations to share. As to his prodigious design talent, the fine London interiors he leaves behind – The Connaught Bar, Artesian and The Blue Bar are among my favourites – speak volumes. David was a class act with a wickedly witty edge.’

Square Meal editor Ben McCormack paid tribute to Collins and the legacy he has left behind.

‘David Collins deserves to be remembered as being as much of a key figure in the transformation of London’s restaurant scene over the last 20 years as Terence Conran and Gordon Ramsay,’ he said. ‘His memorable designs for restaurants including Nobu Berkeley St, Cecconi’s and, recently, Colbert put him at the vanguard of the restaurant world and played a central part in making eating out in London as much about enjoying a glamorous night out in cool surroundings as eating fine food. Our condolences go to his family, and all those who worked with him at his design studio.’

Collins leaves behind his mother, two sisters and one brother.

This story was published on 17 July 2013.

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