Esprit de France has moved into an exceptional venue that has been rebuilt from the ground up, refurbishing the Hôtel du Rond Point des Champs Elysées with the same philosophy as ever, building on the hotel’s history and heritage. That was certainly the case with this project, which was conceived by the legendary Dimore Studio and delivered by the no less famous Artefak: influences abound, but are always interpreted with style. This exceptional taste is reflected in the luxurious quality of the materials used, which include marble and precious wood as well as the intricate effort that has gone into shaping each space. The history of the hotel is reflected in its designer refresh, becoming a theatrical universe with Art Deco influences, a nod to 1960s Italian design finished off with a delicate Bohemian touch. To ensure that everything is perfectly pleasurable, with a timeless visual appeal down to the finest detail, the hotel now has a pool while the view from the rooms is stunningly framed by the new terraces overlooking the Parisian rooftops that we all adore. A moment of suspense where history exudes from the walls and into our hearts.
Hôtel du Rond Point des Champs Élysée, 10 rue de Ponthieu – 75008 Paris. Tel: +33 (0)1 53 89 14 14.
Arnaud, can you tell us about your background?
I’m 44 years old and married with children. I was born in Tehran and was adopted in Paris at the age of eleven. My obvious passion for architecture appeared quite late in my story. And nonetheless, when I look back over time, I was interested in materials, the ways that materials come together, and the ambiance surrounding me even as a child. I would take apart anything I could get my hands on, I drew anything that came to mind, and I would take photos of the city, the gardens and the facades of the buildings, developing the photos in my parents’ basement. I studied at the Ecole Speciale d’Architecture and jobs with various agencies gave me the confidence to create my own studio. In 2013, I crossed paths with Vincent Bastie. He’s a decade or so older than I am with a portfolio of not far off a hundred hotels opened or refurbished in the last 25 years. We quickly started working together and put our names to our first Parisian hotel before forming a partnership under the name of Artefak.
How did you come up with the idea for the project, and how did the creative process go? What inspired you?
One of the big names in modern architecture, Alvaro Siza, said that “Architects don’t invent anything; they transform reality.” When we visited the hotel for the first time with the Esprit de France team, we were all powerfully moved. The owner told us stories about every single space. The hotel was still in its original condition, but we could really feel its soul and its story. It was furnished like a house, without any architectural consistency but with the heart of a homeowner. It was obvious, from the perspective of Esprit de France Hotels and, indeed, from our own perspective, that we needed to refurbish the entire premises. The Art Nouveau style facade, Art Deco style furnishings and some a few 60s touches clearly inspired our approach to the furnishings inside. By working with Dimore Studio, we were able to add an element of stagecraft to the golden years of Italian design, combined with the Bohemian chic that is typical of their work. You can’t miss the inspiration from Lombardy and the architects that embody this image, such as Piero Portaluppi and Gio Ponti, nor the homage paid to Carlo Scarpa and Osvaldo Borsani.
Can you tell us about the various spaces and the worlds that they inhabit?
Our initial vision was to flood the space between the front-facing building that overlooks the street and the rear building with light, then to organise the ground floor of the hotel around the courtyard. A lounge area and a dining room with a vaulted roof and some “pinch points” tie the two buildings together somewhat theatrically on both sides. On the upper floors, this link continues to create interest with an exposed stone and steel passageway, which we have fully preserved. The basement represents a spectacular transformation, because the service areas have been transformed into a spa that covers almost a hundred square metres, with a fourteen-metre pool. The look is a mixture of powder pink and greyish blue, with a very clear contrast between the two tones, referencing the 60s with Harry Bertoia chairs and a large black and white striped bench. The entrance to the hotel is deliberately subtle, with patinated beige walls and a large cherry wood reception desk that adjoins the staircase, while the reception desk can be seen as soon as you cross the threshold by looking through a porthole. The floor features Rosso Levanto white-veined mineral marble.
What were the highlights of the project?
During my fairly regular site visits, whenever I was looking for a team leader or one of the tradesmen, I’d be told that he was “up there.” And rightly so: “up there” meant the terraced roof, with one of the best views of Paris including a 360-degree panorama of monuments and zinc roofs. It’s definitely worth a look!
Some of the items were found in flea markets and antiques shops: can you tell us more?
From the outset, the aim has been to create a home from home. We found some seats from antique dealers, then renovated them, as well as light fittings that included an exceptional set of Fun mother-of-pearl lamps by Verner Panton. We also indulged ourselves by creating bespoke items to reflect the mood of the property, including the lighting in the restaurant, the seats in the bar and in the lounge. And we continue to seek out new items to bring the hotel to life.
What kinds of project do you work on?
The Art Nouveau style facade, Art Deco style furnishings and some a few 60s touches clearly inspired our approach to the furnishings inside.
Photography & Text: Eve Campestrini – Translation: TextMaster @thesocialitefamily