Back in 1593, what was once King Henri IV’s hunt-ing pavilion, on the woody outskirts of Paris, was bequeathed to the Daughters of God. The French Government claimed back the convent fields and in 1850 a hotel was erected here. It was the precursor to L’Échiquier Opéra. By the end of 2015, the hotel, owned by Jacques Gad and pertaining to the MGallery collection by Sofitel, was completely refurbished. Located in the Boulevards, leisure hub during the so-called “fin de siècle”, its identity, built upon a constellation of party venues, beer houses and arcades, remains still intact
The project was entrusted to the studio Le Coadic-Scotto, who had recently refurbished as well the historic Carlton hotel in Lyon. Their style: charm and freshness, filtered through nostalgia. This is very Parisian indeed. With this credentials, the owner gave them carte blanche and an almost unlimited budget. The challenge was to respect the hotel’s valuable heritage but somehow it had to look wholly contemporary too: “Thanks to a deep reflection on MGallery character, it was possible for us to stage the hotel’s history so hosts are able to enjoy a unique experience within the walls of the establishment”, Le Coadic explains. Once they were thoroughly genned up on the period, they decided to take from Art Nouveau its creative freedom and from Art Déco, its classic rigour and tidy symmetries to bring back to life that intimate atmosphere of the Parisian apartments from the beginning of the 20th century. The host feels immediately transported to the Belle Époque basically thanks to the remain-ing craftworks such as the stained glass, the old heaters or the mosaic floors.
Everything revolves around the large winter garden. Its immense skylight evokes the beautiful Parisian arcades as well as those cast-iron and glass pergolas turned into symbol of modernity by the World’s Fair of both London and Paris. Light gushes from above and falls on the golden tesseras of the semicircular bar, on the mirrors and the skirting boards, creating a warm, pleasant environment. According to the architects, “we wanted the interior design to be retro, classic and unflinchingly modern at the same time”. These are the same features brandished by the selected rattan furniture, upholstered in turquoise: Fontal armchairs and chairs by Oscar Tusquets, Copa armchair by Studio expormim and Nautica swing chair by MUT Design, together with Kiri side tables by Mario Ruiz. The elegance of the material adds to the historic elements, such as the mosaic floor, the stained glass in the marble staircase or the elevator, all of them of the time. Le Coadic states: “The success of a project lies not in the renovation of the space at any cost. What moves people is the soul of a place”. This soul is revealed in details such as the pea-cock, a recurring iconography for modernist artists, its green and blue feathers replicating the two prevailing colour wheels in the décor. And that is how L’Équiquier becomes a sort of time machine always coming back to the city that was home to the Moulin Rouge and Toulouse Lautrec, the Eiffel Tower and the bohemians, the green absinthe and the flâneur’s spirit.