Opening Up a Breathtaking Space for the Bar of the Plaza Athénée
Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku
How did you collaborate with the Plaza Athénée? What characterizes your work on the bar, and how did you incarnate the ‘spirit of the Plaza’ in your designs?
Our work at the Plaza Athénée has always remained a highly unique project. We do not work across the entire hotel, but instead in certain zones, namely the bar and the Alain Ducasse Plaza Athénée Restaurant. Our work thus becomes embedded into the spirit of the Plaza.
The bar is an incredible space featuring wonderful proportions. The woodwork throughout the space gives it a warm ambiance. But it is a beautiful room that hails from a different era; it lacks the feeling of our generation, our era, and consequently our spirit.
With each renovation, we ask ourselves what we can respectfully add to this space within the aim of changing the energy of the room. This always involves the work of small touches, and it’s in these very details that we transform the atmosphere of a room. It’s important to find something very modern to add to this room without bringing in a contrast that would otherwise set the client at unease. We look, on the contrary, for a link with history and a gateway into the future. This introduction of contrasts to the bar reflects a magnificently risky move for the Plaza—and thus a proof our boldness!
We also wanted to make an even bolder statement than we did in our previous 2000 renovation and offer a wider gap between the last renovation and this current one. When we made our first visit together, we examined the room for the first half hour, reflected silently, and then shared everything that inspired us. We try to cultivate surprise and an air of magic. We define each stage of the gaze of the client. His first step will be to examine the bar with a touch of magic, then the room across its furniture, before moving on to the ceiling, the floor, and the rest. From there, our work begins.
We wanted to introduce some color up along the ceiling, as well as a more sober color, one that was almost monotone and even darker, for the floor. The idea was to make people’s faces more visible throughout the bar. The furniture is only there to bring in comfort and create private spaces around the folding screens and the large, generous canapés. They recall the furniture of those cars that feature armrests. We sought to create little cells in the bar as well as a space with high tables to satisfy the myriad desires of the clientele. The blue drape along the ceiling is a true source of inspiration. We were after the idea of creating a work in suspension and adding a sense of lightness in the proportion of the room.
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.