A Tribute to Randall Ridless

Randy with one of his beloved cats, Mack

Last week, the design community lost one of its great talents, Randall Ridless. Not yet fifty, Randy had an extraordinary career which masterfully encompassed both commercial and residential interior design.

You may not have heard of Randy before, but chances are you have stood in one of his impeccable spaces, such as the seductive shoe salon at Bergdorf Goodman

or one of Burberry's flagships, where he effortlessly channeled cool Britannia chic....

The one thing you could say about Randy's entire portfolio is that no two projects were identical: for each project, Randy delved into the client's needs - whether it was an international luxury brand or a private client on the Upper East Side; considered the architecture, and created a completely unique space perfectly tailored to each client. One of his signatures was bringing the intimacy and comfort of the home into the showroom.

Van Cleef and Arpels, 5th Avenue

No detail was overlooked. In fact, Randy's attention to the finishing touches - from hand-embroidered decoration on the back of a chair to red Venetian-plastered walls - recalls haute couture both in its custom design and superlative quality of execution.

Many of us have had an Aunt Mame in our life who urged us to be bold and to see that anything is possible. Randy's was his Aunt Renee. At the age of 11, she took Randy into the city to see the Wrightsman Galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Kip's Bay 2000 showroom by Randall A. Ridless and his associate Beth Martell - the lacquered paneling is after one of the rooms in the Wrightsman Galleries, but with a twist - its decoration is inspired by Picasso and his interest in African art

A life-long passion for the crisply elegant neoclassical was instantly born. He immediately redesigned (on paper) his family's Long Island ranch house into a pavilion worthy of Marie Antoinette.

Randy loved to draw and even as a child, drew rooms constantly.

After a childhood trip to Thomas Jefferson's Monticello, all his drawings of rooms suddenly had dentil moldings. He possessed an insatiable curiosity and tremendous retention of design history. Henri Samuel and Jansen were Randy's sacred masters.

His major weakness (besides a love of "Wife Swap" and Diet Coke) was for books. Anita Brookner and biographies were especial favorites.

Even though Randy was an acclaimed designer with a blue-chip roster of clients, he didn't take himself too seriously. "We're not doing brain surgery," he would say. He had a sense of proportion about the extravagance of the industry and could spot pretense a mile away, which he detested.

This aligned with his philosophy of choosing the authentic over the "tricky" and "gimmicky". He prefered a simple barn to a trendy restaurant - the genuine and humble over the souped-up, latest thing.

Randy loved what he did. His sincere enthusiasm and passion were so titanic that his presentations often ended in applause. He lived and breathed each project - and always devoted himself 100%. The results speak for themselves.

A Memorial Service for Randy will be held on Tuesday, October 6 at 6:00pm.

Friends Seminary Meeting House
15 Rutherford Place
(at the corner of 15th Street and Rutherford Place, just east of Third Avenue)

A memorial fund has been established at Randy’s alma mater, the Rhode Island School of Design.

Contributions can be made to:
The Randy Ridless Memorial Fund
Rhode Island School of Design
Attention: Louise Olson
All photos courtesy of Randall A. Ridless LLC

Thank you to Beth Martell and Tim Rearden for their help.