Meet The In-Demand Interior Designer Redefining Parisian Chic
Dorothée Meilichzon had worked in Paris for just five years before she founded her eponymous design studio in 2009 at the age of 27. Since then, she’s become one of the most in-demand interior designers in the French capital — as well as 2015’s designer of the year at Maison & Objet — despite maintaining a full-time staff of only three. Her work focuses on chic Parisian hotels, restaurants, and bars — the “fun places,” as she calls them, done in a style that is decidedly of-the-moment but grounded in color and texture and marked by an exquisite attention to detail and a love for metals, wood, and stone. As her studio has grown in size and reputation, so has her network of local fabricators and craftsmen. Now, almost every element of her projects is drawn by hand — she is sketching a design for a chair as we speak — down to the patterns executed in tile and the charming logo for Hotel Panache, which opened earlier this summer.
“For each project we get our inspiration from the surrounding neighborhood and the history of the building,” says Meilichzon, citing the brasseries of Paris’s 10th arrondissement as a huge influence on the feel of her most recent project. The building’s unique triangular shape though — reminiscent of New York’s Flatiron building — presented a challenge for the designer, who decided to custom-make all of the furniture to fit, approaching each irregular angle as a playing field for her background in industrial design (she studied at Strate School of Design in Paris as well as at RISD). “The only thing that’s square is the bed,” she notes.
Statement headboards are something of a Studio Chzon trademark. (“That’s how you brand your hotel,” says the designer.) At Hotel Panache, a custom design in cane and bent lacquered steel evokes the height of Art Nouveau glamour, a nod to the Grand Palais and the Eiffel Tower. The lighting is the only thing not designed by Meilichzon herself — instead, she worked with the Long Island–based label Allied Maker. “I love what they’re doing with brass. You can use any kind of bulbs, even the ugliest bulb on earth, and with brass it goes well. Which is not the case here — we used nice bulbs.”
The explosive mosaics executed in tile in the lobby and restaurant recur throughout each room in the wallpaper and carpeting. All of the chairs are vintage, many reupholstered to fit the hotel’s unconventional color scheme — shades of red and blue that are, Meilichzon admits, “just there because I like them.” It’s a quirky, sophisticated take on hospitality design that looks like a million bucks but is decidedly more approachable — much like the designer herself. “I like people to come to a hotel and feel at home. Talk to people, make friends. That’s what I want.” We recently spoke to the designer about Panache and what lies beyond.
Describe your most recent project and how it was made.
The Hotel Panache is a 40-room hotel, and it’s my fourth hotel project in Paris. I was inspired by both the neighborhood and the shape of the building. And this building, which is located at the angle of the rue Geoffroy Marie and the rue du Faubourg Montmartre, has an unusual shape for Paris: It is an acute angle. Some of the rooms were perfect triangles, which is ironic, considering that every single piece of furniture in a hotel room is typically square: the bed, the cupboard, the TV, the bathtub.
So I have designed a lot of triangle shapes (desks, wardrobes, mirrors, carpet patterns, tiles) inspired by the shape of the rooms and the profile of the building. The headboards, though, were inspired by Art Nouveau, which is very present in the brasseries of the neighborhood. I drew a headboard in turned steel and cane, as a tribute to 1900, I designed a carpet made of small triangles, I placed triangular mirrors in every corner, designed cupboards, angled bedside tables, etc. Apart from the bed, nothing is square! The story continues in the lobby, where the space divided in two. On the right side is the hotel and on the left side the restaurant, driven by David Lanher, a famous restaurateur in Paris. We designed a huge counter to link the two, made of walnut, blackened wood, and white marble. The triangle is also very present there: herringbone wooden floors, a handmade mosaic shaped like an open umbrella, handmade hexagonal tiles. etc.
Describe your next project and how you’re currently making it.
The Henrietta St Hotel in London. It is a 18-room hotel in London, with a restaurant in the ground floor. This project is very architectural, the headboards and door frames were designed after the landscape of Henrietta St. They are all designed as a bas-relief, which creates a real landscape.
Tell us one thing that’s been inspiring you lately and why.
I was lucky enough to be invited at the Design Parade of the Villa Noailles (above), as they were running this year an interior design session. It was a great source of inspiration!
What’s your favorite piece of art of design from the last 10 years?
I love many things from the past 10 years! All the lights from Allied Maker, the Beetle chair from Gubi, the General from Matteo Cibic (top), the Mask Mirrors from Jean Marie Fastrez (bottom). All because they are original, handmade, and timeless.