The Ultra Creative Hugo Toro Is Just Getting Started


Hugo Toro

Photo: Alexandre Onimus

Since last fall, interior design aficionados have been making a pilgrimage to an astonishing aerie on New York City’s Upper East Side. At just 700 square feet, the space is a fever dream of rich color and dynamic form featuring oxblood walls, a golden-glass chandelier, lily pad- shaped tables and a green-lacquered fireplace with ripples like the surface of a sun-dappled pond. Combining historic and contemporary elements beneath a hand-painted barrel-vaulted ceiling, the interior is unlike anything else in the city.

Its creative mastermind is Hugo Toro, a rapidly rising young interior designer and architect who has designed some of the buzziest spaces in the UK and Europe. Later this year, the designer will unveil his second collection of limited-edition furniture at Paris’s Kolkhoze gallery and debut his first hotel project, Orient Express La Minerva, in Rome. The jewel-box room in New York—the Villa Albertine Atelier, located on the top floor of the landmarked Payne Whitney Mansion, which serves as the U.S. headquarters for the French ministry of culture—is the Franco-Mexican’s first project stateside.

jewel-box space designed by Hugo Toro with golden chandelier and lily pad-shaped tables

Photo: Stephan Julliard

“Fortunately, I am a bit hyperactive,” Toro says with a laugh. He’s in his elegant Paris office, outfitted with lush palm plants and artwork, including some of his own. “I sketch every single day and also paint for myself,” he adds, pointing to an easel with a canvas in progress. Toro takes pride in his 360-degree approach. “I like to do everything and create a full experience.”

Born in the Lorraine region of France to a French father and Mexican mother, Toro’s aesthetic influences are far flung, reflecting not only his dual heritage but also his time studying architecture in Vienna and Los Angeles. Intense color combinations and dramatic stonework are signatures of his interiors, but the primary thread linking all his work, he claims, is “narrative.” Toro’s forthcoming projects will certainly be no exception, possessing narratives all their own. “I don’t like to get bored,” he says. “What is important is to always create a new story.”