Mandarin Oriental - Paris
Architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte has worked with designers Sybille de Margerie and Agence Jouin Manku to create a new landmark hotel in the heart of the City of Light.
Mandarin Oriental Paris is located at the heart of the city’s fashion district, a Chanel handbag’s throw from the couture boutiques which surround the prestigious Place Vendôme, and within airkissing distance of the high end stores lined up along rue Saint Honoré. The designers of this new Art Deco landmark for the French capital have woven a typically Parisian sense of style into the very fabric of the hotel.
Architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte has supervised renovation of the building, its façade and patio, in consultation with landscape design agency Neveux-Rouyer. Sybille de Margerie of SM Design was responsible for the interior design of the rooms, suites, spa and public spaces, with Agence Jouin Manku crafting designs for the bar and restaurants.
Their schemes take inspiration from the Art Deco era and Parisian fashion. The 1930s ushered in an era of elegantly simple styles for women in softly draped fabrics, trimmed with jewels and lace, embodied in iconic Parisienne femmes such as Madeleine Vionnet, Gabrielle Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli, and the fashion photography of Man Ray – particularly his sensual photographs of his companion and muse Kiki de Montparnasse.
Mandarin Oriental, Paris revisits the aesthetic of this era, with its feminine, romantic mood, subtle shades and textures, and delicate detailing. Butterflies, a recurrent motif throughout the hotel, are embroidered on cushions, or made from crystal and ceramic in an installation by the sculptor Marcello Lo Giudice. Others are printed or painted onto furnishings and wallcoverings.
The lobby features shimmering finishes of stone, lacquer and gold leaf, in a palette of grey, plum, rose, mauve and ecru. The centrepiece of the lobby design is ‘Air’ – a sculpture by artist Nathalie Decoster which describes as “suspending fragile liberty from a thread.”
Sybille de Margerie’s guestroom designs combine Parisian sophistication with Art Deco details and oriental touches. A subtle reproduction on velvet of Man Ray’s famous photograph ‘The Kiss’, dresses each bedroom alcove, and is mirrored on the headboard. Bathrooms, in glass, wood, white marble and mosaic, feature basins that are ridged with leather and finished with bold, hammered bronze buttons.
The hotel’s suites are reminiscent of private apartments on rue Saint-Honoré. They have been designed in shades of ecru and lime green, with purple-toned wood combined with leather, lacquer and silk. The white marble and mother-of-pearl bathroom opens onto the bedroom, where another Man Ray photograph – ‘Masks’ – has been reproduced on velvet, and set into an alcove.
Each suite also features the work of Ali Mahdavi, a young Iranian photographer, chosen by Sybille de Margerie for his creative use of light and the stunning impact of his images.
The 350m2 Royale Mandarin Suite is split over two floors with a stunning panoramic view of landmarks including Montmartre, the Grand Palais, and the Louvre. Here Sybille de Margerie has used a palette of gold, white, beige and plum complemented by gilded oak, marble, lacquer, velvets and silk. A beautifully embroidered headboard by Lesage, this time featuring Man Ray’s ‘Neck’, took some 650 hours to complete. Gold cabochons are scattered across the bathroom floor and the oversized bath looks out onto the glittering Eiffel Tower. The suite also comes with a stunning terrace overlooking the Garnier Opera.
The subtle warmth of the guestroom designs contrast with the restaurant and bar designs by Agence Jouin Manku, which are noticably more contemporary in feel. Fine dining restaurant Sur Mesure par Thierry Marx was imagined as a cosy cocoon, away from the hustle and bustle of the city, with walls and ceiling draped in white fabric. Artist Heidi Winge Ström, in collaboration with Jouin Manku and Siegeair and Lallier, has created folds and layers within the fabric of the wallcoverings that again reference the fashion world. A light well in the centre of the restaurant frames an elliptical, ethereal structure that appears to float in mid-air. The design forms a backdrop for Chef Thierry Marx’s menu that pays particular attention to shapes and colours, textures and temperatures. Heidi Winge Ström also created the napkins and tablecloths and menus are printed on Japanese rice paper for a discreetly elegant touch, whilst Agence Jouin Manku has designed a bespoke French porcelain dinner service in white and gold. Named in honour of the flowers whose scent fills the garden on a summer’s day, Camélia is a light-filled space. Intended as a continuation of the indoor landscaped garden, the stone floor gradually gives way to wood as you approach the outdoor courtyard. A menu of simple instinctive dishes combines classic French ingredients with the culinary traditions of Japan. A live cooking counter in the centre of the restaurant seats seven and is open all day, while the al fresco La Table du Jardin, reminiscent of a delicate bird cage, seats six to eight guests.
In contrast to the modern, white spaces of the restaurants, the atmosphere created by Jouin Manku in Bar 8 is deliberately intimate with warm browns and black, and dark wood walls inlaid with Lalique crystals, intended to look like delicate raindrops. The wall treatment in shades of green conjures up the feel of a forest after a rain shower. The centrepiece is the bar itself, carved from a monumental, nine-tonne block of brown marble which was quarried in Spain and sculpted in Italy. The bronze-coloured low tables have smoked glass tops, dotted with tiny lights.
The spa, at 900m2,is one of the city’s largest. The white and carmine glass mosaic floor of the entrance is studded with butterflies in silver leaf. A wall, unfolding over two levels, is composed from Origami-style flowers. The 14m indoor pool is embellished in powdery, pearly whites and pinks, with a light-and-video installation of fluttering animated figures casting images of foliage and yet more butterflies on the walls. The seven Spa Suites are decorated in shades of amaranth, taupe and silver. A fully-equipped fitness centre affords a plunging view of the pool but guests may instead opt for a morning run in the Tuileries Gardens, one of Paris’ most beautiful parks, situated just minutes from the hotel.
Words: Matt Turner Photography: Courtesy of Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group