With hotel conversions in historic sites often ending up being rather soulless, the balance struck between modern-day tastes and needs, as well as history, is just right at the Fontevraud Abbey’s new hotel. The soothing and sleek design leaves room for the historically charged interiors of one of the vastest monastic sites from the Middle Ages, to continue be the focal point of every space. The four-star Hôtel Fontevraud replaces the previous three star hotel (which closed in 2012) situated inside the Abbaye de Fontevraud (founded in 1101 AD). Located in Anjou, France, the UNESCO World Heritage Site was once the burial site of the English King Richard I or ‘Lion Heart’ as he came more famously to be known, which visitors can see today through his recumbent statue, as well as those of other Plantagenet family members, situated in the heart of the abbey.
The private elevator landing opens into a tall vestibule, tapering upward to a seamless rectangular oculus which provides a view of the sculpted summit of the adjacent skyscraper. From the elevator vestibule, the floor slopes gently upward, passing under the twisting shaft of the stairwell to arrive at the main level of the penthouse. The stairwell shaft ascends through the full height of the penthouse, visually linking the entry hall with the structural glass floor of the attic four stories above. The stair itself wraps around the stairwell. The facetted surfaces of the stairwell converge on apertures, trimmed in mirror polished stainless steel, which provide views into and through the stairwell from the surrounding spaces. At the third level a structural glass bridge traverses the stairwell shaft passing through stainless-trimmed openings at either end. The original riveted steel structure – clad in intumescent paint- threads through the faceted stairwell slipping through apertures into adjacent rooms.
Skyhouse Entry & Stairwell, New York, United States, by David Hotson
For the project, Studio Makkink & Bey developed a series of spatial installations that transform the historic Hôtel chambers into lively public spaces. Carpets and curtains create rooms within the room. Antique pieces are scattered throughout, reflecting the past, and new furniture by Prooff “inspire and stimulate the functions of today and tomorrow.”
“Invited by the The French Artistic Nationale Commission Makkink & Bey furnished the main room as well as 23 working/meeting rooms of Hôtel Dupanloup by creating eclectic three dimensional collages of furniture; amongst others Prooff Worksofa’s, EarChairs and SideSeats in new colourschemes, a ‘Dupanloup chair- and table’ specially designed for the project, antique pieces of furniture, a special edition of the Tree trunk Bench and re-designs made of Ikea furniture by students of École Supérieure d’Art et de design d’Orléans that participated in a summer workshop with Studio Makkink & Bey.
Carpets and curtains outline the reprogrammed spaces and introduce a new heraldy that narrates about the content of the local archives (such as from the local Fine Art Museum, the Frac Centre and the House of Jeanne d’Arc). The spirits of the past and present are merged and create rich contexts for researchers -and visitors of the International Research Center of the University of Orléans to meet- and work in. Even when not in use these ‘room in a room’ interiors are intriguing spatial still lifes that portray several layers of time, or as Director of Cultural Affair of the Centre Region Sylvie Le Clech describes them; ‘A treasure hunt across centuries’.
Hotel Dupanlou, Orléans, France, by Studio Makkink & Bey
Photography by Ministère de la culture et de la communication / Drac Centre, François Lauginie, Studio Makkink & Bey
Dotdotdot has designed a showroom in Pont Saint Martin, Val d’Aosta for the Data Center Technology & Operations of Engineering, a leading company in Italy, specialized in software and IT services. This communication-oriented ambience dedicated specifically to the clients illustrates the corporate values, the solutions, the projects and the projects through a demonstrative pathway has been designed to make the invisible visible.
Subdivision of the spaces, furnishing solutions, interactive experiences: in this project for Engineering dotdotdot has exploited, maximized and optimized its know-how in architecture, interiors and interaction design. The hub of the project is the ‘demo’ area where the clients will enjoy a full immersion and interactive experience, thanks to the large table used as a platform for navigating the multi-media contents. This table provides direct feedback on the large curved video-projection wall; this adds a touch of scenographic impact that is transformed into a visual support of the contents.
On entering the showroom, the client immediately becomes the protagonist of the full immersion and communicational experience. The different ambiences, split by function, are part of a single visual identity, expressing the corporate values of innovation, research, internationalization and growth. The space has been designed to be versatile and flexible, to satisfy the different needs of the participants and the varying degree of communication required and the depth of investigation/research applied to the contents. The furnishings have also been designed to guarantee maximum versatility. The materials – full-depth color MDF (medium-dense fibreboard) and the colorways combine to project an overall visual identity that differentiates the spaces according to function.
The objective of the design was to use architectonic choices, the materials and color to explain to the client the study behind the interfaces, the infographs and the communication, with the perception of an ambience that is undeniably avant-garde yet extremely user-friendly.
Showroom, by Dotdotdot, for the Data Center Technology & Operations of Engineering
Photography by Mauro Angelantoni
The biggest challenge was the conversion of a family apartment compartmented into an apartment for a young single advertiser, and retrofitting existing securities repaginating brought from other apartment. The meticulous work respected the memories impregnated in certain parts and introduced new elements from the new intentions. The living room, tv room and kitchen have become part of a single space through the demolition of walls and removal of the toilet.
Shelves specifically emphasize the horizontality of the space and serve as a shield for design pieces. A large gallery Corten steel is the element delimiter between social and intimate, camouflaging access that is done through a pivoting door. The original structure was exposed and the materials are shown with sincerity. The concrete, glass and steel corten combine a sober color palette and contrast with some pieces that give identity to the flexible space.
Maranhão Apartment, São Paulo, Brazil, by Flavio Castro
Photography by Pedro Kok
Located in Hawthorn, this wide, open-planned office space and reception occupies 250sqm. The composition of this office space required innovative thinking and clever design solutions to make it practical whilst remaining simple, clean and light-filled. As a prominent Project and Development Management consultancy group, the interior acknowledges the client Case Meallin’s respect for professionalism, planning and efficiency. Applying a grounding palette of charcoal and white, these blues feature in the custom floor covering and as geometric graphics in both the kitchen splashback and office glazing, which creates visual intrigue without playing to short-term trends.
Floor to ceiling natural oak timber screens generate a sense of large scale proportion whilst highlighting the divisions, providing privacy and distinguishing staff zoning between spaces. Throughout the office, efficient planning and clean architectural lines ensure spaces are light-filled and well-proportioned, whilst maintaining a fluidity from one space to the next.
Case Meallin Office, Melbourne, Australia, by Mim Design
Photography by Peter Clarke
Dutch design office Roderick Vos Studio has recently opened a new showroom in the town of ‘s Hertogenbosch (also called Den Bosch for short) in The Netherlands, which reflects its designers’ convictions and philosophy about what design should (or should not) be. Founded in 1990 by designers and partners in life Roderick Vos and Claire Teeuwen, the studio specialises in innovative interior solutions and product designs for the home. With collaborations with companies such as Alessi, Driade and Moooi, products on display include iconic design pieces such as the modular Dresser Montigny, the almost poetic Kiyo faucet and the organic Atlantis bowl. More recent projects at the Roderick Vos Studio include the hybrid Bucketlight (cast-aluminium pots with live plants hung from the ceiling, double-functioning as lighting) and the interior design for the eat-in kitchen of hotel Château de la Resle in Burgundy, France.
Roderick Vos’ philosophy as a designer is simple and concise: ”Good design should be self-explanatory,” in other words, a design object should not require intellectual and conceptual explanations in order to be appreciated, used and enjoyed. For Roderick Vos, art and design are two different beasts, with the latter being in the service of everyday life, utility and efficiency. A firm believer in the disarming power of simplicity and beauty, he strives towards creating objects that make the people who use them happy, placing more emphasis on the emotional impact of a product. Like a researcher armed with a child-like curiosity and eagerness for experimentation and play, he seeks new ideas in the factories and workshops where his products are manufactured, drawing inspiration from getting to know different materials, crafting techniques and the craftspeople themselves.
As living spaces and kitchen islands merge together in most contemporary homes nowadays, i29 designed a kitchen that acts more as a piece of furniture instead of as a kitchen. Our aim was to develop a kitchen system that seems to disappear in space. The design is reduced to it’s absolute minimum, having a top surface of only a couple of centimeters thickness with all water, cooking and electrical connections included. Large sliding wall panels conceal all kitchen appliances and storage space. In the case of this apartment in Paris, where the kitchen concept is installed, an existing profiled wall is exactly copied on the front panels in order to integrate the solid volume with the monumental space. The freestanding kitchen island is placed in front of the panelled sliding doors.
Invisible Kitchen, by i29 Interior Architects
This 1960’s Hugh Kaptur ranch house was in quite a state of disrepair when it was purchased as a foreclosure. It had been “remuddled” several times, featuring electrical wiring run on the outside of walls, awkward closets added in every room, and poor design choices highlighted throughout. It was stripped of all finishes and some minor layout work was implemented. It was restored to its mid-century glory with modern, but period-appropriate, finishes and materials. Furnishings are a mix of vintage and new, mostly sourced from eBay and local Palm Springs vintage boutiques. It’s intended use as a vacation home provided some extra latitude for whimsy and use of color. The original architect came to view the home at the end of the project and was highly complimentary.
An apartment built on the mezzanine level of a building overlooking the square that symbolises the city of Turin, Piazza San Carlo erected by the Dukes of Savoy and in particular Maria Cristina di Francia, who reigned as “Madama Reale” during the first half of the 17th century, turns into a modern-day theatre representing a certain idea of the bourgeois home, the home of the Turin professional middle classes, through its spaces and the furniture inside it, all embodying reassuring engineering precision and subtle concerns.
The building plan, characterised by a tunnel-shaped progression from the rear to the drawing room facing the square, the windows opening onto the square itself with their given shape and size of the “oculus” on the building facades marking the perimeter, and the need to set out the relational spaces in the living quarters as zones and premises that (to a greater or lesser degree) can be seen from outside, provide the initial input for the construction of a vaguely metaphysical home environment.
Apartment at Turin, Italy, by Andrea Marcante & Adelaide Testa
Photography by Carola Ripamonti