Cannes, France – 25 June 2013 – The public areas of two Marriott hotels on the French Riviera have recently been modernised by JOI-Design, re-introducing the JW Marriott Cannes as the place to be seen in this most glamorous of destinations and the AC Hotel Ambassadeur as a chic coastal retreat in the exclusive Antibes enclave, Juan-les-Pins.
Cannes is celebrated for its longstanding appeal amongst the international jet-set who are attracted by the chic lifestyle, Mediterranean climate and azure sea – and of course the cinematic industry’s biggest annual event, the Cannes International Film Festival, when the world’s shining stars descend upon the city to promote their latest on-screen creations. Since the 1940s a blend of the rich cultural heritage and stunning coastal scenery has provided an alluring mise-en-scène for this prestigious event.
Located on the former site of the Palais des Festivals, the JW Marriott Cannes is on the famed Boulevard de la Croisette, a palm tree-lined promenade of luxury boutiques, restaurants and cafés overlooking golden beaches. As a reference to the site’s former occupant, the designers’ concept for the JW Marriott Cannes recalls a sophisticated era of film star glamour, one that imbued the spirit of luxury without being excessive. The relative simplicity of the 1980s architecture provided a suitably neutral background and the building’s clean lines have been carried through into the interior design concept. Here the values of deluxe elegance are expressed via the application of high quality materials and finely crafted details. The designers deliberately kept to a subdued colour palette of greys, mahogany, black and ivory accented with warm gold and champagne tones. Material finishes are pure and luxurious – Carrara marble, Macassar Ebony timber, leather, velvet and silk.
The new narrative begins at the entrance where structural columns have been transformed to emulate eye-catching golden palms and the design of the port cochère now suggests a canopy of palm fronds. A “carpeted” staircase of sepia and grey marble inlaid with a golden stone stripe escorts guests into the hotel’s reception area. Inside, the lobby opens into an impressive five storeys in height, with dramatic vertical features that, as in a sacred temple, compel occupants to lift their gaze upwards. A spectacular light sculpture of delicate golden “leaves” cascades 20 metres down into the centre of the space; and striking vertical columns encased in creamy marble are bathed in filtered sunlight from above. Horizontal rows of balconies, also marble-clad, are accentuated and reflected in the mirrored ceiling above. The overwhelming effect is a sanctuary to style and glamour, a dazzling setting for glittering occasions.
As a counterpoint to the imposing horizontal and vertical lines above, the design at ground level takes on a more organic feel. The expansive polished marble floor is interspersed with seating areas defined by inlaid carpets with subtle, golden-toned palm frond patterns on a dark chocolate background. Fine bronze “meridian lines” running through the marble and carpet flooring connect the separate materials. Seating is plush and high in comfort with several options for meeting and greeting including tall, graceful wingback chairs and low cosy club chairs and sofas. In addition, a customised communal sofa skilfully divides and defines seating areas between the lobby and bar. A composition of soft greys, champagnes, velvet and burnished metal speaks of understated luxury.
The bar is a statement piece of sculptural curves finished in Macassar Ebony timber and burnished gold, with glass pendant lights above adding a flattering ambience. This is the ideal spot to linger over a perfectly crafted martini while star-spotting. A light mood is much in evidence at the high-gloss Champagne tables with their plush white leather seating contrasted against the dark grey marble flooring – perfect for a celebratory drink or to simply indulge in one of life’s pleasures. An adjacent wall displays a cleverly designed wine rack feature constructed of a delicate rose-gold mesh in which bottles are suspended.
JW Grill is an all-day-dining affair with a delightful outdoor terrace overlooking “La Croisette” and the dazzling seascape beyond. The restaurant’s ambience is warm and convivial, an inviting and modern dining space appropriate for all occasions, whether social or business. The stylish setting is underlined by high quality finishes of stone flooring, leather upholstery and dark timber joinery. Bespoke details observed upon second glance, such as the perfectly stitched embroidery of the banquettes, elevate the luxurious atmosphere. Seating is smartly tailored yet also extremely comfortable for guests to enjoy a late brunch, a lingering lunch or a dinner. In keeping with the fresh contemporary feel, detailing and accessories have been kept to a minimum; a graceful light sculpture is the single focal point, comprised of a crystal teardrop constellation suspended in a cut-out recess which elegantly snakes across the centre of the restaurant’s ceiling. The terrace is ideally positioned such that guests can observe the fashion conscious sashay along the ‘catwalk by the sea’.
In addition, as part of the brief the designers were challenged with improving access between the lobby and the restaurant and thereby increasing patronage. Their innovative solution was to design the requisite Marriott-branded ‘communal table’ as a dynamic piece of furniture and locate it within sight of the bar / lobby area. The result is that what at first appears to be an intriguing piece of artwork is actually a complex, multifunctional table whose fine craftsmanship adds to the sense of dining in an exclusive art gallery.
JOI-Design has also redesigned the public spaces of the nearby AC Ambassadeur Hotel in Juan les Pins, a picturesque historical town on the renowned Côte d’Azur. The aim here was to create a relaxing coastal holiday destination that is a harmonious balance between the city and the countryside. Inspiration was taken from the locality – the seascape and associated maritime culture, regional architecture, and the town’s proximity to the Gould Pine Grove with its celebrated jazz concerts. The combination of warm sandy hues, azure blue, teak wood, leather and polished stone is a response to the hotel’s environment and offers cool, calm respite from the sundrenched Mediterranean climate. Artistic subtleties, such as the reception desk’s glass lamps loosely modelled after the rope buoys found in marinas, form understated allusions to the nautical concept, and in the lobby, the staccato movement of the abstract black and white paintings convey the jazzy esprit of Antibes.
A bright, airy reception area invites guests to kick-back and unwind. Clean lines and simple forms come together in a modern chic interior that has an almost residential feel to it. Patterns are applied with a light touch throughout, allowing materials and textures to express the ambience. The designers’ selective use of accessories such as elegant mirrors and decorative glass lighting adds a delicate finesse. Large windows maximise garden views while the addition of shutters and voiles softens and filters the strong midday sun.
Tailored touches give the AC Ambassadeur’s restaurant, Fushi, a sophisticated elegance. In the evening, indirect lighting cast on coved ceilings creates hushed shadows. Contemporary white-on-white candelabras mix with a muted range of taupe tones and monochromatic artwork whose images of grass are a nod to the rolling fields of Provence. In the library, a bespoke window feature made from varying sizes of richly grained teakwood boxes serves as an art installation with display alcoves yet also discreetly conceals the view of the building next door.
With its redesign of these hotels’ public areas, JOI-Design has constructed a new narrative for each through an artful blend of finely detailed craftsmanship, high quality materials and an expert eye for elegant forms that brings to mind luxurious French couture houses. As a result these two timelessly stylish destinations are reaffirmed as being amongst the chicest places to stay and play along the French Riviera.
“Designing the JW Marriott Cannes and the AC Ambassadeur Juan-les-Pins was such a joy”, explains Corinna Kretschmar-Joehnk, co-managing director of JOI-Design. “It felt a bit like composing our own jazz melodies for the most urbane of audiences – a cultivated mélange of glamour and comfort, formality and relaxation, and buzz balanced by intimacy. In a locale where seeing and being seen is an activity in itself, we have shaped each space’s atmosphere so that both the glitterati and the star-gazers will feel cared for and immersed in luxury.”