The contemporary cocoon: Hotel chavanel

Not far from the museum-flanked banks of the Seine lies the Madeleine quarter, a historic Parisian enclave known as a destination for exquisite accoutrements. Nestled in this busy thoroughfare is the Hotel Chavanel, which emerged from recent renovations with a fresh take on how comfort meets stylish design. The Lotus Bleu team made this cozy and alluring getaway our home away from home for a week this past January, and the story of the design details and considerations that went into this space are truly inspiring.

Passed down from her hotelier father, owner Sophie Charlet has successfully kept the momentum of this family-operated business. Lotus Bleu's principal, Jeannie Fraise, and her husband have a long history and deep friendship with Sophie and her brother, Jean-Claude, so our time at the hotel doubled as a cheery reunion with old friends.

"A haven of hushed tranquility and well-being - an island of blissful serenity."

"A haven of hushed tranquility and well-being - an island of blissful serenity."

The lobby of Hotel Chavanel is a dichotomous environment that directly links the busy street scene to the calm sanctuary of the hotel. The rumble and noise is cut-off as the doors close behind you, though you are still visually aware of the buzzing world beyond the large floor-to-ceiling windows. Once inside, you are met with a mirrored wall lined with white birch trees, smooth and undulating check-in areas and several nests of playful seating to rest your bones and page through a compelling book or magazine.

Beyond the calm of the front desk, we begin to see where the renovation really takes off. As owner Sophie Charlet explains, "It's new exquisitely elegant appointments offer a stylishly refined palette of fabrics and materials, as the backdrop to a superbly mellow setting, which affords true peace and quiet."

The guest rooms at Hotel Chavanel are thoughtful, detail-rich compositions, each layer telling a story. Self-described as a "contemporary cocoon," these rooms provide the womb-like buffer from the hectic surroundings. As a visual reminder, Sophie cleverly commissioned a series of bedside and floor lamps made from the cocoons of the silkworm which provide textural intrigue and a soft glow.

Paying homage to the haute-couture roots of the Madeleine quarter, the hotel concept pulls inspiration from lacework. From the sheer lace drapes, the scaled-up carpet pattern to the backlit custom carved headboards, this element's impression is omnipresent, but thoughtfully applied so that it never overwhelms. 

Hotel Chavanel is a shining example of the ways that considered furnishings, textiles and finishes can add to "the art of living". Fabrics commonly found in tailoring, like heavy-weight wool, are used in window treatments. Heavy-gauge knitted cashmere throws grace the beds. Graphic, embellished pillows dot the seating. Desks are topped in durable saddle-leather and curved coffee tables made from natural oak pull together lounge areas. Walls, like those in the bath, are covered in carved ceramic or dimensional wall-coverings and a few lucky guest on the top floor are treated to rustic heavy timber beams overhead. A confident balance between feminine and masculine elements emerges in each unique room. 


Beyond the comforts of the guest room, Hotel Chavanel invites vitality and well-being. A trip down to the basement level revels a stone-paved room of bygone days. As you take a seat in the antique arched surroundings, illuminated with cool white light, an elaborate spread of delicious organic foods awaits - fresh pastries and fruit, muesli with every topping imaginable and jams and spreads galore. Our team couldn't make it down to breakfast fast enough!

From the island-like calm to the amenities that deeply comforted our bodies and lifted our minds and spirits, we loved our experience at this charming oasis. Merci, Sophie and the friendly and helpful Hotel Chavanel staff!

Creative Retail: the Paris Edition

Various chairs at Conran Shop on display along an undulating, color-charged wall.

Various chairs at Conran Shop on display along an undulating, color-charged wall.

While attending several design-specific events last month in Paris, we took some time to explore various must-see retail shops as we made our way across town. Though our San Francisco studio concentrates mostly on the home, we appreciate the ways residential and retail design can inform one another, especially from a global perspective. From big and bold concepts to subtle details, the range of creative design direction we observed in Paris left us filled to the brim with ideas and inspiration.


While grassy green was omnipresent, deep peacock blues shared the stage. We loved how this hue set the backdrop for a handprinted wallpaper at Le Monde Sauvage, and bled ever-so-slightly into the lighter overlay for a less polished, more unconstrained feel (right). Like a pair of great jeans, an assortment of patterns and textures were effortlessly layered along the blue wall. In another scenario at Maison Sarah Lavoine (below), the hue showed up bold and confident in a series of resin tabletops, grounding the multiple textures and patterns encasing the space and providing a colorful counterpart to the surrounding classic cafe chairs. 

While industrial interiors are inherently minimal and stark, we loved the way these spaces were transformed to exude warmth and character. From the cocoa-hued chocolatier Alain Ducasse, to the vibrant Roseanna showroom, both spaces harnessed the blank-slate appeal of an industrial space and worked the canvas in such a way to give their products, process and vibe a true presence. 

Playing with scale is one way to bring attention and intrigue to otherwise empty or unconsidered parts of a space. The rattan, basket-like lighting fixtures floating throughout Sessun highlighted the expansive vertical space available and, in turn, created an open and light-filled environment. What a vast improvement over boring, run-of-the-mill overhead lighting!

A Visual Journal : Paris Déco Off + Maison & Objet

The Lotus Bleu Team kicked-off 2017 with an exhilarating, albeit chilly, trip to Paris where we visited two back-to-back design events: Paris Déco Off and Maison & Objet. 

During the five-day span of Paris Déco Off, textile showrooms opened their doors in celebration, revealing their newest collections alongside a slew of festivities and release events. To commemorate, the merchandising game came out in full force. Convivial displays incorporated elaborate color schemes and conceptual assemblies showcased the newest textiles coming into the market. It was a time to go big and push the limits. For example, as we walked down an idyllic Paris street, we were drawn into a room filled with nothing but tangerine parrot figurines ensconced in fuchsia and white patterns! The Jim Thompson showroom was one of our favorites, where a towering foo dog peered out onto the street, fashioned out of cloth and passementerie, looking ready to pounce!

A cheerful workspace vignette at Larsen stopped us in our tracks. The encapsulated scene payed homage to the creative process - mood boards and inspirational images layered upon one another and a worktable piled high with finish and textiles samples, the tools of our trade. 

The scene inside the showrooms was cozy, lively and energized. Spirits were flowing, literally and figuratively, as visitors gathered around the fresh, new collections and took note of what 2017 has in store. 

We ran into some friendly and familiar faces along the way, including the team from UK-based Christopher Farr Cloth textiles, a Lotus Bleu favorite. A sneak peak into thier new woven collection has us anxious to use these stunning fabrics as soon as we can!

After spending a few days exploring the intimate vibe of the Paris Déco Off, we took a day to venture out to the Maison & Objet trade show. Inherently dynamic, positively overwhelming and loaded with excitement, the show brought together intriguing designers from across the globe, providing a snapshot of their work. 

Despite the acreage at hand, we managed to traverse enough territory to spot some jaw-dropping goods while gaining insight of what's up-and-coming. The stand-out trend we latched onto was the varying shades of green, from mint to malachite, jade to moss. 

Even this colossal pop-up bar + eatery was ripe with cascading greenery. A nod to the Pantone Color of the Year, perhaps? We would've loved to stick around for some avocado tartar (aka, guacamole) and cocktails, but after such an inspirational workout, it was time to retire to our hotel.