Luxury and savoir fair
In Lyon, in the heart of the Presqu’île (a 150 hectare area enclosed between the banks of the Rhone and the Saône that is home to extraordinary architecture and recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site) stands the unique cubic shape of the Hotel Sofitel Lyon Bellecour. This interesting contemporary building was opened in 1969 and in the same year won the Grand Prix de Rome for Architecture. Its location in the heart of the « carré d’or » (the area of the city with the greatest concentration of culture, art, fashion and commerce) and the quality of its services rapidly made it one of the cult meeting points for the Lyonese and international travellers alike. In the world of hospitality the needs of customers change rapidly and facilities must adapt to maintain their status. Forty years since it was first opened, Patrick Norguet was commissioned to give the Sofitel Lyon Bellecour a new image and to refurbish the interiors in all the common spaces: lobby, lobby bar, spa, Le Silk brasserie and, on the eighth floor, the Les 3 Domes restaurant with adjacent Le Melhor bar which offers a spectacular view over the Rhone. As usual, the French designer approached the project by conducting a meticulous analysis of the physical building and of its history, its cultural references and its relationship with the surrounding area. This study served to identify a distinctive and unique element of a refurbishing project that would impress guests and ensure that the hotel remains one of the highlights of their trip. In the case of the Sofitel Lyon Bellecour, inspiration came from Lyon’s historic silk industry, now an integral part of local culture. Patrick Norguet, artist Gille Cenazandotti and Tassinari & Chatel, the oldest Lyonese silk merchants, worked together on the company’s historic archive to find the most significant ornamental motifs from the various periods. These were then reproduced on the textiles that grace entire walls and ceilings of the hotel to astonishing effect. In the Sofitel the textile decorations are such a strong presence as to take on the characteristics of a fully-fledged architectural element and to contribute significantly, along with the furnishings and the ceramic materials, to the warm, luxurious and hospitable atmosphere that Norguet aimed to create. As for the floor coverings, the designer explained that he was looking for a contemporary mineral material with a neutral finish that would be pleasant to look at and touch and in a single discreet colour that would retain its impact when installed in large spaces such as the lobby. The choice fell on the Masterplan collection, hazel colour from Lea Ceramiche, a porcelain tile with an elegant personality whose large sizes and soft surfaces emphasise the exceptional contemporary nature of the furnishing and the modern classicism of the textile hangings.