Born in 1945, Edward Tuttle, the Seattle-born architect and cofounder of Paris-based Design Realization has died on 21 June 2020. Throughout his career, he enduringly kept a low profile, so much so that many lauded architectural tomes and periodicals are bereft of his quotes. Perhaps Tuttle’s success relied on his lifelong discretion. Unbeknownst to many, he was the man behind the main house owned by nefarious billionaire Jeffrey Epstein. His oeuvre of work was prodigious and these included prestigious residences, commissions for hospitality brands such as Park Hyatt, and of course, the Amanpuri resort located in scenic Phuket, Thailand. He also created designs for Jim Thompson’s textile products and a Chesterfield-inspired seating system for Wittmann called “Edwards”.
Tuttle’s career evidently reached an apogee, as revealed in the debut of the 40-something-villa Amanpuri, Thailand in 1988, which later on snagged headlines across the world. The property was quoted as “groundbreaking” by Architectural Digest when it celebrated a milestone – its 30th anniversary; whereupon, its unparalleled guest service and stunning landscape were feted.
In fact, a 2020 Wallpaper magazine feature cited Tuttle’s accomplishments, particularly, Amanpuri which was “the blueprint for every Aman resort that followed”. The design glossy even mentioned, “to this day, one sees the iterations of the larger Aman imprimatur in terms of design, service, and hospitality levels in luxury resorts everywhere.”
Tuttle worked tirelessly for Aman Resorts through the 2010s, sprawled across four continents. These included Amanjena in Morocco (2016), Amangani in Jackson, Wyoming, US (2016) and Amanzoe in Greece (2016).
“It’s about making the individual feel comfortable and stimulated in a space that functions well.” – Edward Tuttle
Tuttle made humble beginnings, working for Gump’s in San Francisco, including doing interior design work in Greece and Hong Kong. While he finally settled in Paris, cofounding Design Realization with Christian Monges in 1977, Tuttle was still raring to go out, be curious and work across the globe to oversee his numerous projects in residential and hospitality.
When it came to building structures on sensitive landscapes, he responded with a quote for Architectural Digest in 2010, “Respect for both the cultural context of the location and the potential impact of the structures on the surrounding environment is fundamental to his approach.”
Uncannily, his passing also reminds us of architects who have left an indelible mark on Aman resorts, who similarly bestowed posthumous works as well – Kerry Hill who designed nine Aman resorts, chiefly among them Amansara in Cambodia, Amanemu in Shima, Tokyo, Japan, and Amanyangyun in China; there is also the late architect Jaya Ibrahim who designed for Summer Palace in Bejing, Amanfuyun in Hangzhou and Amandayan in Lijiang, both in China.
In fact, the main architect, Malaysian-based Jean-Michel Gathy of Denniston, of which he designed eight properties for Aman was quick to point out that Aman was not a singular brand signature but rather his, Hill’s, and Tuttle’s work. While they are disparate in design personalities, they operate in a similar DNA which has established the look of Aman all over the world. Read more about Gathy here.
Even Bill Bensley – the Bali- and Bangkok-based designer, famed for his Midas Touch on luxury tropical resorts Capella Ubud and Shinta Mani Wild passionately opined in a recent Wallpaper article, “I don’t think there is a resort designer on the planet who has not been influenced by Aman. I was most influenced by Tuttle’s space planning which really set the scene for a new era. Imagine, he made the bathroom the same size as the bedroom and with natural light from four sides, when the rest of us were cramming tiny bathrooms into dark corners.”
Well, his legacy clearly lives on! Just pop yourself over to one of Tuttle’s many hospitality projects, once international travel begins, and you can attest to Tuttle’s deep respect for the lay of the land and nature. Rest in peace, Mr Tuttle!