The principles of Zen Buddhism can cover all dimensions of life and, for Chief Eric Ripert, that was the goal when designing his Sag Harbor home. Austerity, simplicity, naturalness, subtlety, imperfection, originality and immobility, these were the concepts that the French culinary force presented to the architect Blaze Makoid for the design of his new home. Considering that Ripert has been practicing Zen Buddhism seriously since the mid-1990s, it was only natural for him to have this priority easily.
“My challenge was to create a monastery, but I didn’t want my wife to know that she was living in a monastery,” says Ripert, referring to his partner, Sandra. “I wanted her to think it was a beautiful, luxurious house, which meant creating a bridge between what we both wanted: a shrine and a monastery.” Fortunately, the Riperts were able to find the perfect team to execute their combined visions. Besides Makoid, a key member of this team was Marie Aiello Design Studio, with whom the Riperts worked on the interior design of the house. Another was Landscape details, which was the spearhead of landscape architecture. And finally, Greg Diangelo Construction, who looked after the building.
“The landscaping was very important because the house is part of nature and vice versa,” says Ripert. “I wanted it to make the house look like it’s in a forest – cultivated and a little bit wild.” Ferns, towering oaks and wild grasses surround the house in a natural and deliberate way. “The bedroom, in my mind, looks like a treehouse. You’re in the trees when you shower too, ”he says, adding that the bird feeders and statues are placed in perfect sight lines throughout the yard. Ripert notes the beauty of just walking down the aisle – trees and animals everywhere. Natural and still: check.
Of course, another very important aspect of home design is the kitchen. Ripert being the co-owner of The Bernardin—Which received three Michelin stars for the excellence of its cuisine and received four stars from The New York Times four consecutive times, making it the only restaurant to maintain this unique status during this time – cooking is a big deal. And, while the kitchen doesn’t necessarily look flashy, it’s all about simplicity and efficiency. “I went to Gaggenau, the best for building kitchens, and they figured out my nonsense,” says Ripert, who chose to equip his with an induction cooker, easy to maintain and energy efficient, and worked with SieMatic on the design of space. “It’s very effective to have a one-man show. I call it Formula One cuisine.
Ripert’s other passion, his practice of Zen Buddhism, is more evident in his meditation room. “It was very important for me to have this room, and it was designed with the help of a Nepalese monk – my teacher – to have good feng shui.” Filled with statues made in Nepal, sanctified and sealed with gems and prayers, the room was designed to accommodate these pieces collected over the years. From the window, we can see a statue of Buddha over 12 feet high.
When Ripert and Sandra bought this land on Long Island almost 22 years ago, it included a lovely 1980s house, but at some point everything in the house started to fall apart. Still, the couple liked the energy of the place, so they decided to rebuild. With the full space, it has clearly become an oasis. Chef Eric Ripert adds: “Every detail of the house was non-negotiable. “