Sarah Lavoine’s joie de vivre

The Parisian designer shares her inspiration for the 5-star Le Roch Hôtel and Spa, Paris.

The design opus of one of the 21st Century’s most iconic Parisian designers, Sarah Lavoine’s new Le Roch Hotel and Spa in Saint-Honoré is a coveted design stay for those in the know. Redefining luxury in the fashion capital, it bears Lavoine’s signature style: a dynamic intermingling of colour and comfort – a soulful manifestation of the new contemporary interior.

“I imagined Le Roch Hôtel & Spa as a private apartment, translating my vision of hospitality by bringing together materials, colours, motifs and all the small details that you want to find after returning home from a long journey,” Lavoine explains. “I designed the spaces to create an elegant and welcoming place, playing with the effect of the soft natural light on the deep colours that have become my signature: black contrasting with soft pastel shades, ‘Sarah Blue’ and a luminous dotted brick red.”

Known in Dubai via her collection in The Den shop, Lavoine is known internationally for her furnishings, accessories and fine paint. “My designs can be easily integrated in other countries because they are timeless,” she explains.

But it was more than her intuitive and coveted creative prowess that allowed Lavoine to have a unique, inimitable perspective when designing the hotel. “I know the Saint-Honoré neighbourhood better than anyone else because this is my home. My office, my first store and my own apartment are in this area. I’ve been here for 20 years now. My background made this an ideal way for me to share my vision for the perfect Parisian home in the heart of a neighbourhood that has always been a source of inspiration for me. I nourish myself with everyday life in Paris, including artistic exhibitions such as the retrospective about Pierre Paulin, the Haussmannian architecture, etcetera.”

Lavoine loves the decadence of colour. “[It] is a statement in any interior design project. It brings drama to a very simple room. The palette I used for Le Roch is a mix of what I like at the moment; deep blue, a touch of brick red, black as always, to underline all the other design elements. You would think it might shrink a place but it is the opposite. When you know how to use it subtly it’s like a mirror for light. I also added some pastel shades to create a soft environment with pale pink.”

Her design process for the hotel reflects her overall signature style and also speaks to the needs of the traveller. “I wanted to create a place where all the details convey warmth, comfort and joy. So I combined deep colours and elegant materials – velvet, leather and wood – to create a very easy-going and chic atmosphere. ‘Touch’ is an important element of my design, so I am very careful when it comes to chasing fabrics and materials. I always go for pure lines, but I would never sacrifice the touch and feel of a material. Comfort is where your hand lands, isn’t it?”

Brass is an accent used throughout the hotel, and floors have been delicately made with firestones that echo the logo of the hotel, and Lavoine mixed her line of furniture – which is colourful – with the masters to give some statement, as well as to create a consistent ensemble. “I particularly like the chair we had covered with the House of Hackney fabric, which is very modern, with drawings of flowered skulls,” she says.

But, like any project that resonates on such personal and public levels, it was often overwhelming. “It was my first five-star hotel, so the entire project in itself was challenging,” says Lavoine. “And it was supposed to be the reflection of my idea of Paris. I wouldn’t dare being wrong with such a brief! The transformation and the gathering of two different buildings was something quite unexpected, but thanks to the architects it all went really smoothly.”

Sarah Lavoine portrait
Le Roch Hôtel and Spa designer, Sarah Lavoine

The spa presented its own challenges: “For the spa, I decided to break some rules. I did not want the guests to feel like they were going to a medical place, so I opted for an all-over black with mosaic tiles. A thin white line brings light to the space and adds a geometric pattern. With natural daylight and a waterfall to enter the Hammam, there is no other spa like this in Paris!”

Her favourite room? “I really like spending time in the library: it is really cosy, with books and artworks that I personally curated. It could be my own living room.”

Her insistence that the hotel feels like home is indicative of how Le Roch represents a change in how people are thinking about luxury hotels in Paris. “Most travellers are looking for another version of their homes,” she says. “They no longer want to stay in a standardised place. They’d rather have a room with a lot of personality.”

Her future has as much depth and dimensionality as her hotel. “We’re very busy right now and it’s exciting. The company has a lot of ongoing projects, mainly abroad: the ELLE Café in Tokyo; a two-floor café and restaurant, a house in the Hamptons; a restaurant in NYC; the future headquarters of L’Oréal Luxe (opening mid-2017); and the launch of [book] ‘Chez Moi: Decorating Your Home and Living Like a Parisienne’.” We’re already booking our next stay.