DESIGN FOR LIVING: The French leg of the Land Rover Born Awards, held in Paris on Wednesday night, was an opportunity not only for guests to get to know the national winners of the design competition, but also to enjoy a preview of the Lutetia hotel ahead of its official reopening later this year.
The reason for this privilege soon became clear: Jean-Michel Wilmotte, the architect behind the four-year renovation of the Art Nouveau landmark, was one of the evening’s honorees. Though the building remains shrouded in scaffolding, its interior revealed some unexpected features.
“Under seven or eight layers of paint, we discovered frescoes,” Wilmotte said of the charming faded murals in the future bar of the hotel. He added construction work would not be completed until September, though a spokeswoman for the hotel said the official inauguration was set for May.
Now under the ownership of The Set Hotels, whose other properties include the Hotel Café Royal in London and the Conservatorium in Amsterdam, the Paris hotel was almost completely gutted to redistribute the rooms, which have been reduced to 184 from 233 previously to make them more spacious.
Among its new features is a 7,500-square-foot Akasha spa in the basement and a new outdoor patio. Chef Gérald Passédat, whose restaurant Le Petit Nice boasts three Michelin stars, will take over the Brasserie Lutetia.
Jean-Christophe Chopin, founder and chief executive officer of Born, a market network for design-led lifestyle products, said the choice of venue reflected the “peerless” theme for this year’s awards, which celebrate creative talent in six categories: architecture, technology, home, fashion, sports and mobility.
“The Lutetia is an establishment founded in 1910 that was a backdrop for the cafe society of the Twenties and its creators, which chimes with our concept, and the fact that it has been completely renovated warranted a celebration of beautiful design,” he told WWD.
The Paris dinner will be followed by similar events in Spain, Italy, the U.K. and the U.S., he said. Winners of the regional legs of the eight-year-old competition will showcase their entries at Milan Design Week from April 17 to 22, and the global winners will be revealed at the Design Museum in London on Oct. 4.
Seated under a glass ceiling painted by artist Fabrice Hybert, diners applauded the six local winners, who included Alexandre Fauvet, ceo of Fusalp, for his revival of the French skiwear brand, and Clara Daguin, a designer who explores the fusion of fashion and technology with items like her Aura Inside interactive dress.
“The idea is really to reveal the things that are invisible, in this case the body’s energies, thereby revealing a person’s aura,” she said of the garment, which pulses with light in reaction to the wearer. “For me, it’s a work of art, having required 1,000 hours of hand embroidery.”
The jury awarded special prizes to Wilmotte; Nicolas Houzé, ceo of Galeries Lafayette Group’s department store division, and Frank Bruno, founder of Bout de Vie, an organization that supports amputees and people with other disabilities.