Avant-garde Belgian fashion house Maison Martin Margiela has given a très-cool makeover to a fussy, luxury hotel in Paris, the high Holy Land of fussy, luxury hotels.
Maison des Centraliens reopened to the public in May with a slick interior that turns this ornate, Second Empire townhouse (and former home of a Viennese princess) into a monument to the headscrewy Belgian surrealism for which Maison Martin Margiela earned its fashion-world star.
The place is a study in optical illusion. It’s got chairs and tables that appear to suspend in mid-air and trompe l’oeil wall coverings done up in the Hausmannian style that make closed doors seem like they're open. Laser in on the photos, and you’ll be hard-pressed to figure out whether you’re looking at new wallpaper or molding that the architect, Jules Pellechet, dreamed up some 150 years ago. There's a corridor covered floor to ceiling in what looks like tin foil and a mirrored, diamond-shaped parallelepiped said to reference 2001: A Space Odyssey. The dominant color scheme: clinical white.
This sort of high-minded impishness is weird stuff in a city that decorates its top hotels with canopy beds and Louis Quatorze tapestries. But there’s a business reason for it. Maison Martin Margiela -- which no longer operates under the aegis of its fearless, but elusive, leader, Martin Margiela -- rumbled to the fore of the fashion scene more than two decades ago with brainy, deconstructivist design often billed as a rebuke to the era’s penchant for opulent clothing. It has since become a cult darling of the taste-making elite, counting, among its loyal fans, everyone from Jay-Z to Thom Yorke.
Which means that in the rarefied world of fancy hotels, where exclusivity is everything, Maison des Centraliens has one thing the Ritzes and Le Meurices don't have: It’s cool. Says Bernadette Chevallier, who helped oversee the rebranding:
The hotels whose openings have lately been in the news, or soon will be, are all top grade luxury hotels embodying quite a traditional idea of luxury, even conventional in some cases. It’s a choice that has its merits but the Maison des Centraliens, by contrast, puts the focus on discretion and an offbeat take on luxury hotel standards. …[I]ts values revolve around light-heartedness, humour and a laid-back attitude. … Rather than a traditional luxury hotel, we are positioned as a prestigious boutique hotel that combines five-star amenities and services with an unconventional vision of the upmarket hotel business.
Even rarer: It’s relatively affordable. Rooms start at 203 Euros. A comparably sized room in a four-star hotel in Paris can cost twice that.
COMMENTARY: The Maison des Centraliens (La Maison Champs Elysees) hotel is so typical of old style classic French hotels. I love what Maison Martin Margiela did in redesigning the interior of the hotel. The white is a bit too much for my eyes, but I could definitely enjoy a stay there.
The Maison des Centraliens is a 5-star hotel and has 57 rooms and suites, offering the ultimate in comfort, exemplary service and attention to detail. The hotel is ideally located off of the Champs Elysee. It has a garden view on the quiet rue Jean Goujon, in the heart of Paris. Amenities include Free Mini bar, Free WiFi, Free video films, and Apple Mac mini in all rooms. Rates start at 500 Euros per night. Check out the video:
I love that gold leaf being applied to the walls. Below is a video of the grand opening of the hotel.
It's definitely a must see if I am ever in Paris and have the spare cash to afford such luxury. It takes $1.41 Euros to the U.S. dollar, so that is going to be an expensive hotel bill, not including food, wine and tips. I love wine, so I could definitely go crazy there.
Courtesy of an article July 18, 2011 appearing in Fast Company Design