Bruce James Brigham
1951 - 2014
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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 ( Arrangements for a private service are pending.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in The Seattle Times on Jul. 13, 2014.
Memories & Condolences
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8 entries
December 3, 2014
My name is Peg Nakatsu. Though I did not know Bruce, I was so touched by his obituary when a friend brought it to my attention. My 60-year-old husband had also just died in February due to cerebellar ataxia. We never knew anyone else experiencing the devastation of this terrible disease. I live in downtown Bellevue, Jan, and would love to meet you if you are ever in the area and inclined to talk. My email is I think of you often and pray that you are strong enough. Peg
August 17, 2014
So sorry to hear this. Love and peace to all the family. Cheryl Harrison Renfroe
August 15, 2014
Childhood pal from Seattle. Good0bye my friend
Charlie Scott Harrison
July 22, 2014
My deepest condolences. I had the pleasure of working with Bruce on several occasions. He was truly a gifted designer and just a really nice guy.
Bruce Dickinson
July 17, 2014
Jan, Bruce was a lovely man and you were a special couple. Love, BJ Peterson
July 14, 2014
Dear Denise,
Sorry to learn of the passing of Bruce. He was a well respected professional. I worked with on several ASID ventures, including the old email system, where I believe he was chair of hospitality. He always sought to involve the underserved. Bruce will be missed. You and your family are in my prayers. Vincent G. Carter, FASID
Vincent G Carter, FASID
July 14, 2014
Dear Denise and Family-
I am so sorry for your Loss. Through the years I had the honor of serving with Bruce on various ASID national committees. A truly amazing man, an absolute delightful person who inspired so many designers. Bruce's legacy will live on. Wishing you comfort and peace.
AnnMarie Jackson, ASID - National Board Member At Large 2014-15
July 13, 2014
Dear Denise and Family,
I m am so sorry to hear about Bruce. I remember you all fondly from John Muir in the Mt Baker area and when you moved away . Im sorry it has taken this to reconnect. My prayers go out to all of you . It would be nice to hear back when you have the time . God bless.
Tony Volchok
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