Hilton Canopy Cannes
client: SDPNE Hôtels, PH-I&M
project manager: Frédéric Alzeari et Benjamin Robert
collaboration: Viriato, CAA
photo credits: Yannick Labrousse, H Lagarde
Designing a hotel, rehabilitating an old building that has stood the test of time, is primarily a lot of concerns. One must reconcile economic, logistical, technical, programmatic, and regulatory constraints… And when one thinks they have finally succeeded, the work actually only just begins. There remains yet to imagine the main thing: what is seen! I certainly like this moment, bewildering but addictive, of the blank page. Not that one starts from nothing or from nowhere when designing the identity of a new living space; on the contrary, we are always on the lookout for historical tracks, human or cultural reminiscences, urban legends to bounce off of and build a new imaginary world. But then comes the time for selection, composition, nuance, stepping aside, taking an assumed and arbitrary stance that escapes logic, reference, repetition, systematicity, and boredom — that is, everything one does not want or no longer wants to endure at the hotel. The past composed and the reinvented future merge into an indispensable grammatical toolbox for the designer that I am.
For the Canopy hotel, you will find some pages of the hotel history of this Art Deco building from the 1930s, some illustrious figures such as Lord Brougham — the Englishman who fell in love with Cannes —, some exceptional know-how that is the pride of the region, such as pottery, widely showcased in the café. In this toolbox, Nathalie also holds a prominent place, embodying alone the past and future aspirations of this hotel she bought over twenty years ago. We first met in her Parisian apartment, amidst her works, should I say her collection, as personal as it is eclectic. The idea of infusing contemporary art, introducing the concept of a collection, imagining ‘collector’s rooms’ took shape through our exchanges. Art and hospitality do not often go hand in hand. Perhaps tastes and colors differ, but maybe also due to a lack of audacity and risk-taking — in short, one does not become a collector overnight. The desire to introduce a series of original works into each of the 121 hotel rooms was not a last-minute whim. It was the starting point and the very essence of the concept: to offer it to overnight visitors, to initiate surprise, provoke astonishment, by discovering these artistic compositions integrated into the layout. The choice to primarily favor an emerging generation of artists from all backgrounds contributes to making the room decidedly contemporary and alive, in motion, drawn towards the future. That our design can bring forth the commissioning and installation of such an original and expressive diversity of creations gives a very particular meaning to our practice, which often resembles more that of a conduit, a bridge, than that of a decorator — although we are that too. I am grateful to all the artists, the jury, Haily, Frédéric, and Benjamin in my team, Nicolas, and of course Nathalie, without whom this umpteenth complexity could not have come to fruition.