François Frossard (Megeve, France, 1964) easily transitioned as an Industrial Designer for the acclaimed Lee Weitzman into one of the most cutting edge interior designers in the country. François’ signature “grand style” infused with “high bold drama” can be found in celebrated venues around the world. He leads the current new romantic design movement, infusing decadent glamour with whimsy and mystique, pairing contradiction with tradition.
“Shareef has bestowed incredible trust in my ability to get it right”
Francois’ latest work was recently unveiled with the re-opening of Shareef Malnik’s “The Forge” a Miami culinary masterpiece; a restaurant with a regal pedigree; The Forge was a monumental design challenge, a “redux” of a cherished venue, known for impeccable design, beloved by the owner and his coveted clientele which includes current and former heads of state, A-List celebrities and socialites. For this project François was sensitive to America’s new economy, however he did not limit himself to understatement, instead, inspired by the psychology of the opulent environment he created a template of optimism.
A collection of current projects are in the works including a new restaurant for Chef Todd English at Developer Jorge Perez, Icon, in Miami’s financial district, a revelation in contemporary design channeling a dream sequence of Eddie Sedgwick having tea with Anne Boleyn.
“Yesterday is history, tomorrow a mystery, but today is a gift”
Francois was born into the hospitality industry in Megeve, a small town in the French Alps in 1964. His parents were hoteliers/restaurateurs and he is the grandson of one of Europe’s greatest chefs. Although his earlier years may seem that of privilege it was the contrary. Francois’ humble beginning helped develop an acute imagination and a special attention to detail, patience, hard work and education. Apprenticing as a craftsman in furniture construction and carpentry, Francois honed his skills from classic French and European artisans and became a master craftsman, earning degrees in cabinetry and carpentry.
Francois moved to Geneva, Switzerland to further his education in engineering and construction management. He later returned to France (1984-1987) and earned a degree in Design at the prestigious Ecole Boulle of Design in Paris.
In 1987, Furniture Designer, Lee Weitzman announced Francois as her new Industrial Designer and he moved to Chicago. Naturally his scope broadened when he accepted the position as Head of Design & Production for internationally acclaimed designer, Jordan Mozer. The position opened the door to significant commercial projects such as Las Vegas Bellagio Hotel & Casino’s Race and Sport Book Lounge; Cirque du Soleil Retail Store; Hudson Club, Cheesecake Factory and Disney Quest.
In 1998, Francois opened his own design firm FFD in Miami. As Miami Beach evolved from a bohemian hot-spot into Americas’ Riviera; a Mecca for the young and wealthy, the hospitality industry clamored for great designers. Francois pioneered a new era in nightlife design. He set new standards in interior design around the world. His early projects included (Mirai Sushi 1999); Heat Restaurant Chicago (2000).
In 2002, The Opium Group, a national nightclub firm known for their jet-set celebrity clientele retained François as lead designer. Francois unveiled PRIVE, the first in a series of uber-chic venues for the group. Prive was certainly the first American nightclub to depart from traditional dark bawdy atmospheres and go minimal, simple elegance, modern, white on white. The design was the first in Miami Beach meant to appeal to the young and fashionable that intentionally had no specific dance floor encouraging guests to dance where they please. Francois drew on his expert knowledge of furniture and fabrics to meet the challenge of the bacchanalian atmosphere. Prive’s concept inspired an entire generation of nightlife.
Soon after the opening of Prive, François revealed his next design for Opium Group. An open air Asian inspired amphitheatre called Opium. The venue located adjacent to Prive in the burgeoning South of Fifth District in Miami Beach is truly unique, a contemporary landmark and the largest nightclub complex in South Florida.
Opium Group dominated American nightlife by acquiring Miami’s crown jewel; a former Vaudeville theater located in the heart of South Beach. François took the lead, inspired by the ultra feminine Erte style deco, the romance of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s magnificent Gatsby house on West Egg and the twenties sexual revolution. François created Mansion, a hedonistic palace with a grand staircase; opulent chandeliers swathed in chiffon; a fully functional library with a private bar, drawing rooms, bedrooms and a colossal VIP area reputed to be the largest in the world. Mansion dominated and was heralded in the pages of People magazine and also featured in Michael Mann’s motion picture, Miami Vice.
By 2007, François carved a significant niche, his signatures were now inspiring other designers around the world. His projects were competing with themselves. Each new venue outdid the last. As Opium Group’s portfolio expanded, each venue was designed specifically to a particular demographic.
Francois confronted each venue with a careful meditation on style, function and originality; a marriage of art and business with a profound understanding of his extremely fickle clientele. François deals with the complexities of building multiple venues in various cities at the same time masterfully, considerate of local building codes, politics, labor laws and community; designing showpieces capable of withstanding time.
The simultaneous unveiling of SET, another transformed theater located on Miami Beach’s Lincoln Road; PRIVE at Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas; Mansion in New York City was a “tour de force” securing a feature in Wallpaper Magazine and François “Best Designer” award for Set.
SET features a “euro-hip” go-go style interior. François made sense of a property known for notorious epic failures. Francois understood the mistakes of his predecessors and drew on Miami’s “modern” European style. Although SET is majestic it is free of pretension and a satire of the buildings’ former lives. François installed a working glass fireplace; glass elevators connect the two-leveled venue; each piece of furniture is covered in luxurious Pucci fabric and the Chihuly inspired chandeliers mock authority.
François’ master plan included the inevitable cross over to retail. His ingenious lighting designs are licensed by international distributor, Tech Lighting. Lumid, from Montreal manufactures Frossard’s over scaled lighting elements for his commercial projects.
Respectfully, François cherishes each day as a gift and embraces tomorrow’s mystery. He does not take his good fortune for granted and applauds his team, talented craftsmen, manufacturers, designers and tradesmen that service his projects state-wide and internationally. As his company expands further into world class markets his grounded classically trained past narrate his future.