The first time I photographed the creative genius John Loring, he was seated at his desk in his office at Tiffany & Co. with a sweeping view of The Plaza and Central Park in the background. The year was 1984. Our paths didn’t cross again until I photographed John in 1990 for an article in Architectural Digest about New Yorkers in their favorite places—John holding a giant mound of cheese in his favorite downtown gourmet market.
Twelve years later, my wife, Gigi, recognized John at a Palm Beach cocktail party and reminded me I had photographed him years earlier. Since then, John and I have collaborated on a book on Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens, and several of John’s 23 coffee table books for Tiffany have included my photographs.
In the photograph shown here, John holds the instantly recognizable Tiffany Blue Box, and is wearing his own classic Atlas watch. John told me he designed the Atlas watch while in a Zurich hotel room in 1980—there was no stationary in the room; therefore, he drew the design on a napkin. Introduced by Tiffany in 1983, the watch became an instant classic, and John’s Roman numeral design now includes rings, bracelets, earrings, and necklaces.
Linda Buckley, the vice president of public relations at Tiffany for 20 years, and now the president of her own firm, recalls, “The first Tiffany watch I wore was the original Atlas in stainless steel that John Loring designed. The design was inspired by the clock tower in Zurich that John passed as he made his way to the train to the Basel Watch Fair each year. The watch face featured raised Roman numerals and instantly became a classic icon of Tiffany style.
“Zurich was always a great trip to take with John. There was the obligatory stop at the favorite Kronenhalle restaurant, with their amazing collection of Impressionist paintings and bar designed by the Giacometti brothers. All trips with John were great fun, in addition to lots of work! We always started at a favorite haunt—the China Club in Hong Kong, Brasserie Lipp in Paris, the Chelsea Arts Club in London, or even escaping from the New York office for lunch at Doubles and no talk of work.Revisiting John’s favorite restaurants was always a homecoming in each city. John and I explored many of the world’s great cities together, and it was always educational and entertaining.
The elaborate 30th celebration in the New York flagship store when John moved from design director to design director emeritus after 30 productive years was filled with a glittering and eclectic group, including longtime friends Paloma Picasso, her mother Francoise Gilot, and Warhol superstar Ultra Violet.
John is still involved with Tiffany projects all over the world. With every project he tackles, John’s instinctive brilliance produces a little magic. I would venture to say he has become as iconic as the Atlas watch itself.