The French Art of Welcoming
An encounter with architect Edouard François, who took part in the construction of Fouquet’s Barrière Paris.
France’s history reveals that we have cultivated a true art of living and welcoming. This expertise and thoroughly French art of welcoming has been considerably developed in luxury hotels, where it remains a source of inspiration for the great names in the hotel industry. What is your professional approach to the French art of welcoming? In what ways can it influence architecture? Is it a distinguishing feature for architecture?
At a luxury establishment, it’s almost all about the service: the lobster has to arrive right away and steaming hot! At Fouquet’s, for instance, there are 350 people in our work hive…350 people who show up with a smile to serve you! A smile is not always so easy to give out on a daily basis, unless you think of yourself as a Very Important Person on a mission winding around corridors that are as spacious and swift as highways. Forget the worker ants who work underground—the times have changed…I have constructed a building where things appear and disappear with a virtuosity worthy of Houdini. The double bottoms and other tricks won’t be revealed to you; they have formed the object of a research development that we have called “the architecture of service”…
The intimate spaces are just as fundamental…and call for a particular architectural conception. Fouquet’s Spa, for instance, is a project in itself. One walks incognito in a bathrobe from one’s suite to the Spa. It has to be strategically located. The path is conceived on a flat plane, as is ideal, before delicately gliding up one level along noble dimensions to be confronted by the building posts. Posts that then plunge in the water of the pool, like those of the great cisterns of Istanbul in my travel journal.
Laurent Delporte, an editor and conference speaker, is a strategic expert in the sector of hotels. A visionary, he brings his unique look on hotels in service to the decision-makers in the industry, whether to enhance the development of new projects or strategic visions.
Laurent has visited and audited over 350 hotels across the world and also participates in mystery visits to provide quality control for the world’s finest hotels.