By  on October 5, 2009

Randall A. Ridless, a talented interior designer who was instrumental in bringing stores such as I. Magnin, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman into the modern era by reconceiving many of their selling floors and setting prototypes, died Friday morning at his Manhattan home. Ridless, who was 49, suffered from cancer.

Ridless also created Burberry’s London flagship, which set the mold for several international flagships, as well as Temple St. Clair jewelry stores and Iridesse pearl stores for Tiffany & Co.

Since 1999, Ridless operated his own New York-based interior design consulting firm, but spent most of his 25-year career at leading retail corporations, first at Bloomingdale’s as a designer for the 59th Street flagship’s model rooms. He later joined R.H. Macy & Co. as vice president of store design and planning, and for the I. Magnin division created prototype stores. At Macy’s, he created the Corner Shop Antique Galleries, conceiving rooms in collaboration with Bill Blass, Audrey Hepburn and Bobby Short.

At Macy’s, he met Rose Marie Bravo, who was running the I. Magnin division in the Eighties. The two developed a close working relationship that lasted more than two decades.

“I knew way back then that this person was unique,” Bravo said. “Randy had great style and taste. He was easy to work with, and he always got things done on time and within budget. He had the discipline. And he really got what that specialty store carriage trade was all about, and made an effort to put it into the 20th century.”

After his tenure as a decorator with David Anthony Easton Inc., Bravo and Ridless resumed their collaboration at Saks Fifth Avenue. When Bravo was president, she recruited Ridless as vice president of store design, where he created 30 store interiors across the country. He was ahead of the game in bringing a residential sensibility to the stores, something other retailers would ultimately try to copy.

Later, when Bravo became Burberry ceo and Ridless had established his own firm, she brought him in as a consultant to create the Burberry flagship on London’s Bond Street, which became the model for other flagships in locations such as New York, Düsseldorf, Moscow, Chicago, Barcelona, Beverly Hills, San Francisco and Moscow, though he adapted each unit to reflect local aesthetics and culture.

At Burberry, “Randy was so important helping us bring a very traditional brand into a more modern vernacular,” Bravo said. “He was truly a class act.”

Ridless demonstrated a knack for executing and sometimes even crystallizing the visions of those he worked for into dramatic and elegant interiors. He was known for exhaustive research to help set the direction on projects.

Ridless also designed the main and second floors and shoe salon at Bergdorf Goodman, and designed for Van Cleef & Arpels, Frette and St. John Knits, which recently hired Ridless to design a store prototype.

His talent extended to residential and hotel design, and furniture, fabric, bedding and china collections. His projects included the Grand Club at St. Andrews, the main floor of Holt Renfrew in Montreal, and one of his most acclaimed projects, the Mayflower Inn & Spa. He also re-created Manhattan House, a landmarked 1953 Skidmore, Owings & Merrill apartment building. He was five times named one of America’s top 100 designers by House Beautiful and one of the top 10 designers to watch in the 21st Century by House & Garden, among other honors.

A memorial service will be held Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the Friends Seminary Meeting House, 15 Rutherford Place on 2nd Avenue at 15th Street in New York.

Ridless is survived by his life partner, Tim Riordan; his mother, Marilyn Cohen; his stepmother, Adele Ridless; his brothers Hank, Glen and Joshua, and Joshua’s wife, Jennifer.

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