Sybille de Margerie on the latest trends in interior design for luxury hotels

CPP-LUXURY.COM has recently interviewed exclusively Sybille de Margerie one of the world´s acclaimed interior designers and architects

How would you define luxury when it comes to interior design?

For a long time, my family owned the Hotel de Crillon, one of the most beautiful places in Paris. I therefore had the privilege of growing up in the particular atmosphere of a place that attaches the utmost importance to traditions, the finest service and savoir-faire.

When I chose to become an interior designer, I recalled the sense of wonder I had felt so early in life and set out to recreate it.

My goal is to achieve a perfect blend of tradition, innovation and creativity.  This is something I accomplished, for example, at Cheval Blanc in Courchevel, Bernard Arnault’s first luxury hotel.

I see my work as a sensual quest for comfort, and the pleasure of the finest quality in the smallest detail.

Being French Culture is part of our DNA  , there is no luxury without culture

Luxury should be timeless, it transcends trends.

Luxury is an intangible dimension that speaks about emotion.

When designing a brand new luxury hotel, what are the must-have features of the interior design?

A hotel has to become a destination

Of course above all, an hotel has to offer functional spaces and impeccable comfort.

A place give birth when thinking of clients expectations in order to offer them even what was unexpected.

Technology shall serve them, and not the contrary.

A luxury hotel should not be trendy, it has to be timeless and transcends trends

A luxury hotel needs to offer a singular experience where the place sparks subtly the city and country scents.

A luxury hotel is to be a place to live where we need to create that “something” about grace and irresistible elegance, this famous intangible dimension which is nearly impossible to describe.

Luxury will be read through details and felt trough those emotions a place can offer.

Interior design is about inventing the layout of a place. It focuses on finding a balance and ensuring the easy flow of people through that space. This is why interior design really is the work of an architect who imagines, designs and organises indoor space as part of a global system.

My work for Mandarin Oriental, Paris began precisely with this organisation of space.

I then defined a concept and a visual identity; a unique Parisian style and atmosphere that exactly fit with the Mandarin Oriental Group DNA.

Hence it is my role to take the strategic decisions that would forge the identity of a new luxury hotel, such as the choice of colours, materials and elements of comfort, from the lobby to the restaurant, spa and suites.

How can luxury hotels achieve a ´sense of place´ through design?

Sense of place has always been essential in our creative approach

To do so, we explore and  gather all elements, that are part of a city or country heritage. History, architecture, art de vivre, colours, know-how, arts.

Those emotional and intangible elements will constitute a unique language for a custom-made project.

I am also convinced that luxury projects gain their own distinctive feel through collaboration with leading names in art and fashion.

For Mandarin Oriental Paris, we were looking to express the haute couture dimension of the district where the hotel is located, and have initiated two collaborations with two artists: the fashion photographer Ali Mahdavi and the prestigious embroiderer  Ateliers Lesage, whose creations give an “unexpected” dimension to the project.

For the Royal Atlantis Residences in Dubai, in addition of a contemporary vision for the interior design I wanted to inject character and charisma, and selected five Artisans d’Art. Through the creation and craftsmanship of these five women emanates a feeling of uniqueness and rarity.

It draws us back to our philosophy of luxury where details are essential, whether they be distinctly visible or barely discernible.

Is there a Sybille de Margerie signature style? (or features)

Sme interior designers impose their identity on a place, and in doing so reduce the identity of their client to invisibility. My approach is more open.

I look for creative solutions that exactly match my client’s identity and their global image in the world. These creative solutions aim to adapt that image in the most attractive way possible to the country, city or neighbourhood where the hotel is located.

With these two objectives uppermost, my personality and subjectivity show naturally:  femininity is important to me, as is a brand of elegance underpinned by refinement.

If I had to define the Sybille de Margerie style, I would say I am an architect of a particular art de vivre that blends tradition and creativity in a characteristically French luxury spirit.

Which are the essentials of comfort when designing a luxury hotel room?

Quest for comfort has always been part of our design philosophy :

“Being creative with simplicity – Modernizing the traditional – Making technology attractive, and colors elegant – Designing for harmony and comfort”

Design cannot compromise comfort.

Comfort is first about the way spaces are designed, fluidity, functionality bring comfort

Comfort is in the lighting design, efficient lighting and mood flexibility enhance design.

Comfort is in the choice of furniture and equipment’s

Our best references come from guest testimonies who have stayed in hotels we have designed and have experienced this way of living.

A successful hotel design project is also about the execution. Tell us more.

Our level of expectation in achievement is very high

We are working in a lot of different countries worldwide, where the sense of luxury and quality are different.
This means that we need sometimes to fight so that the project is conform to our design and perfectly executed in term of quality.

We may have to spend a lot of energy to make it happen the right way, and we do not bear any compromise.

Beyond what was signed in the contract, passion and high level of requirement are essential to succeed.

You have also launched a collection of lifestyle design pieces. Please share with us more details.

The creation of furniture and lighting collections, combining modernity and tradition, luxury and elegance, is part of the creative direction of our studio and its international projects.

We always design bespoke and unique pieces for our projects, such as Cheval Blanc or private chalets.

Our studio created Murano glass lightings for MLE, Italian contract specialist, and hand knotted rugs with French Chevalier-Edition.

We developed a whole collection with Pouenat Galerie, French based manufacture.

We have a long-time collaboration with Pouenat. Their creations are regularly integrated in our projects, private residences or hotels, such as the Royal Atlantis luxury residences in Dubai, or Le Barthélemy Hotel &Spa in St-Barths.

My taste for noble materials, mixed with my sense of detail led my inspiration: Calacatta marble, Murano glass, lacquer, oak and Zebrano wood. The tradition is enhanced through sophisticated finishes: brushed and varnished brass, bronze patinated brass, hammered and waxed steel.

More recently we developed a bathroom fittings collection, Nude, with italian Zucchetti. We appreciate their savoir-faire in revealing the femininity of my signature while taking in consideration functional aspects and market needs.

What are the most prominent luxury projects coming up this year?

We have a lot of projects at work; private residences and hotels.

On the drawing board is the Royal Atlantis Residences in Dubai which is an amazing project. We have designed the interior of 230 apartments and penthouses. It’s challenging and rewarding to work on such a large scaled project which will be completed in 2019.

Private luxury residences in Moscow are also in progress.

Current hotels in progress are : Cheval Blanc in Oman, Park Hyatt in Marrakech, to name a few.

New renovations for Cheval Blanc Courchevel, which just celebrated its 10th anniversary, are programmed for the end of this year, and we are proud of the renewed and annual collaboration with LVMH Hotel Management.

Sybille de Margerie

CPP-LUXURY iOS App