Dialoguing With the Past: Agence François Champsaur Renovates the Hôtel Vernet

Interior designer François Champsaur leads the renovation of the Hôtel Vernet on Paris’ famed Champ-Elysées.

The highly lauded Champsaur is renowned for reworking buildings from a multitude of periods and styles into his own unique vision while capturing their distinct, personal histories.  He is therefore a perfect choice to conduct the 100-year anniversary renovation of a hotel that boasts such classical architectural features as a Gustave Eiffel stained glass dome and a marbled interior, lending an advanced air of hospitality and comfort to the sophistication of legacy and heritage.

The features Champsaur inserts into the Hôtel Vernet are a gateway into appreciating the original standout elements of the hotel. In the restaurant, lavish and robustly colored sofas are not just appropriate for a guest whose passing whim is to gaze upon the Eiffel masterpiece–they actually invite the guest to do so, and even usher in the experience, while their arched form reflects the very arches of the city by which onlookers have for centuries been amazed.  The colors discourse with the Hausmann facades and moldings, again approaching and appreciating romantic legacy from the vantage point of the modern. This discourse finds its common ground in the person of the guest, who is the waypoint between the memory of the past and the promises of the present, a waypoint that Champsaur definitely has in the back of his mind.

Upstairs, the suites reverberate with the interactions occurring in the lobby and restaurant, but the dialogue is much more compartmentalized.  The bathrooms enunciate the classical lineage with their marbled interiors and golden fixtures, while the bedroom proper operates along the contours of that design, with curved wooden walls that luxuriate the ease of a homestead: the curvatures transform the bathroom entrance from a doorway into an elysian sepulcher, or a Roman temple.

Champsaur’s own passion for contemporary art is brought to the playing field as well, complimenting the craftsmanship of the French hand with modern prints and drawings. These don’t perch on a wall but are literally woven into the rooms’ fabric, as carpets, ceilings, ottomans, or coffee tables, becoming an elegant graffiti, an intimate veneer that puts an inviting smile on the surface of imposingly classical interiors. 

Champsaur’s chic renovation of a modern archetype of Hausmann elegance is profoundly subtle, yet standout and noticeable, whether it be his insertion of enormous sofas, his articulation of classical contours into pronounced features that manifest themselves in curiously modern light fixtures, his doorways that carry both definition and functionality, or his suspended displays of contemporary art that hang between the walls of classical arches.  The renovation brings the Hôtel Vernet into the modern era by paying homage to the heritage of French craftsmanship and making it conversant with current generations.

Photography courtesy of Hôtel Vernet