THREE QUESTIONS TO –Maison Martin Margiela
You see the white cotton covers, the trompe l’oeil, the subversion of objects and materials, the mixing of styles and eras, the play on aesthetic language and the humour that’s a permanent feature.
What has motivated Maison Martin Margiela to tackle interior architecture on such a large scale?
MAISON MARTIN MARGIELA – The Maison des Centraliens and Maison Champs-Élysées project is the most ambitious ever entrusted to Maison Martin Margiela and is in a prestigious location that affords it a high profile. This is a logical continuation of our interior design office’s work, following on from the Elle Décoration suite in the Palais de Chaillot in 2009. But it is also a challenge, as it means making different aspects cohabit – day and night, private and public – and expressing ourselves within the tight limits set by the aesthetics of a 19th-century Haussmann townhouse and the safety restrictions of a place open to the public.
From fashion to interior design: what are the invariants of Maison Martin Margiela?
MMM – Maison Martin Margiela’s identity expresses itself in parallel, and in the same place, through its fashion collections and interior design work. In the Paris headquarters and the shops worldwide you see the white cotton covers, the trompe l’oeil, the subversion of objects and materials, the mixing of styles and eras, the play on aesthetic language and the humour that’s a permanent feature. Clothing, objects and interior design all communicate the same aesthetic values: an “unfinished” finish and a sense of detail, surrealism and lowbrow culture, oversizing and 2D projection, imaginatively recycled materials.
What style of clientele did you think of when designing the decors for the Maison des Centraliens and what experience are
you trying to create?
MMM – We are thinking of a modern international clientele able to appreciate a pleasant, elegant offbeat attitude. This is the world of a relatively ‘democratic’ luxury offering greater freedom than the top luxury hotels; a luxury that is also, and essentially, defined by its sophisticated quality, irony and focus on detail. It’s the style our customer base appreciates all over the world. We would like guests and diners to enjoy the generosity of our creative offering matching the generous hospitality of this very special hotel. An experience that will induce them to come back. You see the white cotton covers, the trompe l’oeil, the subversion of objects and materials, the mixing of styles and eras, the play on aesthetic language and the humour that’s a permanent feature.
The rules of the game: They are based on an offbeat take of standards, as symbolised at the outset by the paving in the reception hall, where black marble cabochons take liberties with the rule that says they must be placed at the corners of
the white flagstones.
Irony in the literal sense of the word, meaning the deliberate play on what is said as opposed to what is meant, letter as opposed to spirit, appearance as opposed to reality. The cabochons in the French-style paving are indeed there, but not in their rightful place. In the White Lounge, the spotlight rails illuminate only the traces of old picture frames – but these are painted onto new walls. In the guestrooms, the traditional Persian rugs are in fact patterns woven into the carpets. In the suites, the 19th-century mouldings are randomly interrupted. Playing with the vestiges of time in a new setting; a supremely dandified refinement suggestive of Beau Brummell who, it is said, had his clothes worn by his valet before donning them himself.
In the restaurant, the chairs and tables seem to be suspended a few centimetres above the floor but fear not, they are stable and comfortable. Trompe l’oeil reproduces the mouldings in the Empire reception rooms on the landings leading to them; lighting effects create the illusion that a closed door is open, allowing sunlight to filter in. In fact everything helps to create a theatrical world imbued with the magic of a show in which we are, if not actors, at least willing accomplices.
Respect for the building and the constraints of its heritage: walls or ceilings are not concealed unless for technical reasons. Maison Martin Margiela has not covered the mouldings or marble in the foyer to plaster one style over another. On the contrary, the intention was to further enhance the historic features of the place by dramatising them. Respect for the demands of comfort too, as demonstrated by the care taken with lighting, particularly in the bedrooms, and acoustics, especially in the restaurant. And, of course, respect for the project’s inherent safety imperatives.
Hotel La Maison Champs-Elysées
8, rue Jean Goujon
Tel (+33) 1/ 18.104.22.168
Fax (+33) 1/ 22.214.171.124
Laurianne Folinais – MOE