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Bruce James Brigham

1951 - 2014
Bruce James Brigham Obituary
Bruce James Brigham

Acclaimed international designer and former Seattle area resident Bruce J. Brigham dies at 63

Bruce J. Brigham, an acclaimed interior designer whose credits include everything from a makeover of Cartier stores worldwide to the short-notice revamp of a Seattle hotel suite for the Sultan of Brunei, has died in Boise, Idaho. He was 63.

The cause was cerebellar ataxia, said Jan Ambrose, his wife of 30 years.

Brigham was a pioneer in retail branding and design and won numerous awards for his work. He was a Fellow of the American Society of Interior Designers and served as president of the ASID National Board of Directors in 2009. He appeared on ABC's Good Morning America and wrote for several design and marketing magazines. He was involved in the addition of 150,000 square feet of retail space to the Raffles Hotel in Singapore and design of a 105,000 square-foot waterfront resort and casino for the Lummi Indian Nation. Brigham's design talents were applied to the makeover of 180 Cartier boutiques around the world and store redesigns for Hong Kong-based TSL Jewellery, the largest jewelry company in China.

One of Brigham's noteworthy Pacific Northwest efforts was revamping the penthouse suite of the Alexis Hotel in Seattle for a visit from the Sultan of Brunei. Brigham reportedly had 48 hours to do the job - and was given an unlimited budget and access to the Seattle Art Museum's collection, said his cousin, Adrienne Robineau. Brigham's design and renovation of the Seattle Supersonics Courtside Club was also widely acclaimed.

Bruce James Brigham was born Feb. 4, 1951, in Sona-Bata, Belgian Congo - now the Democratic Republic of Congo - where his father was a representative for a New York export company. The family moved to the United States when Brigham was 2 months old. He graduated from New Trier West High School in Winnetka, Illinois, and earned a bachelor's degree in Art and Architectural History from Williams College.

He moved to Vashon Island after college and worked as a carpenter before becoming involved in design and branding. He met Ambrose on the island in 1984. They were married Oct. 11, 1986.

Brigham was managing principal of Planet Retail Studios - an international brand development and design company based in Seattle - before opening his own consulting firm. He designed and supervised more than 400 projects.

Brigham was known for his love of jazz. Avid boaters, he and Ambrose lived aboard their 49 foot Alaskan trawler and often cruised the San Juan Islands and Canada's Gulf Islands and particularly loved Desolation Sound. He and Ambrose moved to Mexico in 2001 and Brigham designed and built homes for the couple in Turtle Beach - north of Puerto Vallarta - Sayulita and, most recently, San Carlos. They moved to the Boise area to be closer to family a few years ago as his illness became more serious.

Brigham died July 8 in Boise with his wife, and his best friend, John Seakwood, at his side.

He is preceded in death by his mother, Betsy, in 1996. He is survived by his wife, Jan Ambrose; his father, Georges Brigham; sister Denise Morocco; brother Peter Brigham; stepsons Peter Clark and Tom Clark; brother-in-law Stephen Morocco; sisters-in-law Penny Brigham, Kelly Ambrose, Laurie Ambrose and Lisa Ambrose; six grandchildren; five nephews and six nieces.

The family suggests memorial donations in Brigham's name go to the American Society of Interior Designers Foundation (http://www.asidfoundation.org/CONTRIBUTE.html). Arrangements for a private service are pending.
Published in The Seattle Times on July 13, 2014
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