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May 2018


As the parisian interior designer gets set to unveil one of the city of lights’ premier projects – the fully renovated Hôtel Lambert – she sat down with Alexander Lobrano to talk about inspirations, the crucial role of colours.

On a drizzly dove-grey morning in a stylish salon with a beautiful braided raffia carpet, African masks and potted white orchids at her offices in the heart of Paris, Linda Pinto changes the subject. The director and owner of one of the world’s most legendary interior design companies has just been talking about overseeing the renovation the Hôtel Lambert, an elegant 17th-century mansion designed by the French neoclassical architect Louis Le Vau and built between 1640 and 1644 on the Île Saint Louis in Paris’s 4th arrondissement. Awarded to Cabinet Alberto Pinto at the beginning of the decade, this is one of the most prestigious interior commissions in France for many years, and this is why the world’s art-and-design community is awaiting its unveiling this summer with bated breath.

“It’s been an immensely challenging and rewarding project, and we’re very proud of the work we’ve done there,” says Linda Pinto, a striking woman with a soft bob of silver hair and warm, bemused smile. Now she pauses briefly, and then she segues into the role of solicitous hostess by offering coffee. “So where do you live in Paris?” she asks her visitor, me, to the polite consternation of her assistant.
“It makes me feel rather humble, really,” says Pinto, “because it’s part of the history of Paris, the history of France. It’s a great honour to have done this work.”
Linda Pinto,Cabinet Alberto Pinto
The conversation returns to her headliner project, the Hôtel Lambert. It’s one of many she’s currently working on across a portfolio that includes private residences, yacht and plane interiors as well as hotels. But for all the glories of her acclaimed career, the rebirth of the Hôtel Lambert may be the project for she is most enduringly remembered. 

This is because there are few buildings in Paris that have the cachet of this elegant limestone building, a place that is still special to the international beau monde as the venue for the dazzling parties of Alexis von Rosenberg, Baron de Redé, when he had a flat here from 1949 to 2004, and Marie-Hélène de Rothschild, after she and her husband acquired the property in 1975. The Hôtel Lambert was purchased by Sheikh Abdullah bin Khalifa al-Thani, brother of the then Emir of Qatar, for the purported sum of €60 million in September 2007. In 2010, Sheikh Abdullah’s son Sheikh Hamad bin Abdullah al-Thani hired Alberto Pinto, known for his opulent interiors and founder of the eponymous design firm, to renovate the mansion in 2010. Alberto died in 2012, and then a fire caused severe damage to the building in July 2013. Now, under the auspices of Linda Pinto, who had already been working with her brother for 30 years but took over their business on his death, the magnificent building has been renewed and revived. “It makes me feel rather humble, really,” says Pinto, “because it’s part of the history of Paris, the history of France. It’s a great honour to have done this work.” 
So what exactly did Pinto and her team of nine decorators and seven project managers (80 people work at the company in total) do at the Hôtel Lambert? “The mansion is a listed French national monument, so we had to respect the building’s good bones at the same time that we responded to the needs of the new owner.” It’s about creating beauty and giving it life, maybe by inventing décors that are a little off-centre and very subtly surprising.” This aptly describes the sensibility of another much-lauded recent Pinto project, the renovation of the Lanesborough Hotel in London. “We respected the visual DNA of the great English country houses, but rescaled the usual decorative idioms, including furniture and mouldings, to make them more legible. We also used colour to create modernity,” says Pinto, who admits that hues and pigments are her true passion. “For me, colour and light are essential elements of every interior I design, whether it’s a mansion or a jet,” says Pinto, who joined her brother’s firm in Paris as a young woman after working in art galleries. Alberto studied at the École du Louvre in Paris, and then moved to New York and opened a photographic agency that specialised in architecture and decoration.

This led to regular work for the American magazine House & Garden, along with other Condé Nast publications, which allowed Pinto to meet and work with some of the greatest interior designers of the 20th century, including Luis Barragán in Mexico and David Hicks in England. Pinto returned to Paris in 1968 and launched his own interior-design business, the Cabinet Alberto Pinto, which quickly attracted commissions from the royal families of Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Pinto’s world view is courtesy of a life as an inveterate and enthusiastic traveller for both personal and professional reasons – something that is further enhanced by her experience as a NetJets Owner, as she explains, “Flying with NetJets allows me to work in complete serenity, which makes travel time as productive as it is pleasant. Everything is so efficient and expedited. The aircrafts are impeccably well-maintained, and my privacy is absolute. The staff are so consistently welcoming and charming and the level of service is outstanding. NetJets is my biggest luxury, and it’s probably my smartest one, too.” Home is still where the heart is, though, and today she lives in the sumptuous apartment of her late brother on the Quai d’Orsay in Saint-Germain-des-Prés in Paris, but she’s made the often-photographed rooms her own through the years. “My life is different from Alberto’s,” she explains. “You know, when my grandchildren come to visit me, my attitude is, oh well, if something gets broken it’s not the end of the world. What we need in the world today are decorations that are elegant but warm, comfortable and cosy,” she says: and that quartet of adjectives describes both the woman and the Pinto style to a T.
Linda Pinto worked alongside her brother, Alberto, for over thirty years. Since 2012, she holds alone the reins of Alberto Pinto Interior Design.

At the age of seventeen, she left her native Morocco to live near Alberto where he first put her in charge of his Parisian gallery. Shortly thereafter he asked her to join his interior design firm where she quickly became his privileged associate: he taking care of the artistic direction, she the management and always together for the presentations to the clients.

Today, alone at the helm, she works in close symbiosis with her team of nine decorators and seven project managers established over the years by Alberto: “a close-knit family” she emphasizes.
It is with the same passion, energy and creativity she continues with her team in what has always made Alberto Pinto Interior Design successful: eclecticism, luxurious details and refinement.
Linda Pinto
Cabinet Alberto Pinto
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