The location is, in a word, dreamy. Set on a hillside promotion high atop St. Barts in the French West Indies, the home of Kathrin Bruss, owner of Hamburg’s high-fashion emporium Petra Teufel, and her husband, automotive executive Oliver Bruss, commands seriously seductive views of the island pleasure dome. From one side, the house looks out to the venerable Eden Rock hotel and the cerulean waters of St. Jean Bay. From the other, it affords sweeping vistas of Saline beach.
The views in and between the various pavilions that comprise the Bruss compound aren’t bad either. Designed by Vanessa Alexander of Los Angeles–based Alexander Design, the home presents an idiosyncratic vision of classic St. Barts chic, with pitched roofs and exposed beams, peppered with glamorous accents and a few hints of flash. “It’s really my style seen through her eyes, and vice versa. Kathrin brings a lot of personality and style, and she collaborated heavily on the furnishings. My job was to put it all into a cohesive story. The house has moments of glam, but it’s also really comfortable, livable, and elegant,” the designer says.
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Alexander worked with local architect Johannes Zingerle of Design Affairs to craft the compound, which includes a series of interconnected pavilions that celebrate the best of indoor-outdoor living. The main pavilion—the only structure with a second floor—has a living room and kitchen on the main level and the primary bedroom suite above. Vintage Mario Bellini seating, upholstered in olive green leather, anchors the living room, accompanied by a striking Lindsey Adelman wall light/sculpture, a shapely Pietro Franceschini console, and a Paul Matter floor lamps. The primary bedroom on the second level radiates a similar vibe of restrained luxe. A floor of ebonized gray French oak coupled with walls sheathed in pale textured plaster create a backdrop of dramatic chiaroscuro for the furnishings, a spare assemblage highlighted with a jewel-like Gabriel Scott chandelier, a brass-lined portal to the primary bath, and other luminous accents.
The humbly-scaled guest pavilions follow a similar aesthetic path, allowing the views to do the heavy lifting for dazzling beauty but not capitulating to natural splendor entirely. Artworks by the likes of Imi KnoebelRene Ricard, and Barbara Probst add a contemporary gloss to the more traditional elements of island decor, as do strategically placed furnishings such as a Soriana lounge by Afra and Tobia Scarpa and a marble bookcase by Piero Lissoni. Bruss’s connection to fashion becomes explicit in the alfresco gym setup, which features a Louis Vuitton punching bag, a Chanel basketball, and Chrome Hearts medicine balls. “The decor isn’t overtly beach-y, but it has the right feeling and the kind of easy comfort you’d want in a place like St. Barts,” Alexander says.
Of the many sybaritic spots on the property, the pool and the adjacent dining pavilion are “the place where life happens here,” the designer says. “The clients love to entertain, so there’s always lots of music and lots of activity.” Custom canopied daybeds arrayed along the pool, which offer views of shimmering beaches to the north and south of the island, are the best seats in the house—save perhaps for one. “The hot tub is incredibly tranquil. You really feel the rock wrapping its arms around the property,” Alexander muses. “You’re surrounded by lush green mountains, looking down on the red roofs of St. Barts. It’s heaven.”