How did London establish itself as the new favorite destination for French decorators? – Decoration Elle

Grosvenor Square is located in the heart of the very elegant district of Mayfair and is undoubtedly the most popular address in London. Two large hotel projects are being built there. What do they have in common? They are designed by French interior designers. The former US Embassy, ​​a huge modern building that blocks one side of the square, will in a few months be home to The Rosewood, whose rooms and common areas were designed by Joseph Dirand. While the new Lodha Luxury residences concept, set in a Georgian building just opposite, was designed by Blandine de Navacelle. Just a few streets away, Luis Laplace recently delivered an extraordinary bar-restaurant over four floors (The Audley Public House), Pierre-Yves Rochon revamped the very classic Dorchester, Thierry Despont took care of The Beaumont, Fabrizio Casiraghi (Milanais based in Paris) looked at Grand Hotel Bellevue, Hugo Toro and Dorothée Meilichzon each designed two restaurants last year (Gothic Bar and Midland Dining Room for the former; Henrietta and Supernova for the latter) … In short, French decor is popular across the channel!

This phenomenon is mainly due to the extreme vitality of the London scene. Buoyed by a boom in air travel, the British capital is once again attracting visitors from all over the world, and despite the combined effects of Brexit and Covid, it continues to fascinate the luckiest of them… The fact that we speak English there obviously works in its favor, the historic rivalry with Paris is stronger than ever another time. This return of tourists, combined with competition between luxury businesses, is strongly stimulating the entire sector. There is maximum competition offering ever more exclusive, spectacular, “experiential” hotels and restaurants to this discerning clientele…

Also read: French luxury in an exceptional apartment in London

The French touch: an extra touch of soul

In this context, the French bring their uniqueness. “They are more classic in their modernity, truer to their French soul. We like that,” says Daniel Englender, general manager of Benjamin West. This supply company (consultancy and acquisition of goods and services) acts as an intermediary between owners, interior designers and hotel operators. She has a very active office in London (her clients: The Dorchester, The Audley Public House, The Beaumont, The Rosewood, etc.). “When the owners wanted to modernize the venerable institution that is The Dorchester without disrupting it, their choice naturally fell on interior designer Pierre-Yves Rochon, because of his unparalleled know-how in moldings, gilding…” He thus transformed a long, dark and an antiquated corridor to a sparkling restaurant and bar studded with major works of contemporary art.

For the two restaurants delivered last year at St. As usual, Pancras designed everything (carpets, furniture, fabrics etc.) by Hugo Toro, taking care to fit seamlessly into the architecture of this iconic Victorian building. Contemporary decor, yet connected to the past. “Perhaps the French have a demand for design and an eye for detail, which is somewhat exotic for the English,” he says. Former LVMH group marketing director Blandine de Navacelle is now at the helm of Lodha Studio, which is developing (very) high-end apartments equipped with palace services. “In ultra-luxury, interiors are often standardized to appeal to as many people as possible. In France, we love culture and sophistication. Each object has its own meaning, story. This culture allows us to bring a unique side, another layer of soul, personality and warmth. The intimidating side of the place is thus erased. »

The use of French craftsmen is another characteristic of French interior designers, especially as the UK lost most of its workshops during the 1970s and 1980s. “This know-how in the field of chandeliers, textiles, etc., is necessary to achieve a certain level of finish, recalls Daniel Englender (Benjamin West). It’s great that France was able to hold its own. » For his London projects, Hugo Toro put his trust in the manufacturers he is used to working with in France and continental Europe. “Almost nothing was done on site,” recalls the decorator. The French assembly side is the real difference. »

London, freedom to create and an attractive playground

However, the attraction is mutual. London fascinates French decorators more than ever, who find in this more cosmopolitan city immense freedom, looser codes and more imagination than in their own country. “From my point of view, London is the most creative city in Europe today,” defends Julien Sebban from the Uchronia collective, who lived in the English capital for eight years and plans to open an agency there. And to point out what makes the decorator’s job easier across the channel: “It’s easier to complete a project there. Collaboration is more natural, there is less rivalry, and above all, you don’t have to be the one to open the door. » London’s proximity to Paris thanks to Eurostar also makes things smoother. Parisian architects can travel back and forth during the day, which is less easy with a location in the Alps or the Cote d’Azur.

“All trends in food and retail are born in London,” continues Julien Sebban, who will soon add a touch of madness to the new Koibird fashion boutique. Due to the local culinary culture, which is less widespread than in France, the city is more open to cross-breeding and fusion cuisines. In London, French decorators have to consider different codes. “People leave the office earlier and go to parties after work, they stay awake more easily than in Paris, where we are more sedentary and sit in lower seats,” says Hugo Toro. It is another vision of catering, exotic for us. The challenge is to adapt to this culture. » Our decorators, steeped in our history of decorative arts and able to integrate the British spirit, export well. but not only in Great Britain. Proof: after Hugo Toro with L’Orient Express, Rodolphe Parente announces work on another experimental hotel in Rome. Italy, the new conquering country?

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