French Twists

A GROW­ING PARIS-BASED HO­TEL CHAIN TAPS DE­SIGNER PA­TRICK NORGUET TO GIVE FORM TO ITS STYLISH YET HOMEY ETHOS

Azure - - SPOTLIGHT - WORDS _Ken­dra Jack­son

In to­day’s multi-op­tion ho­tel land­scape, cen­trally lo­cated pri­vate rentals are bat­tling it out with both high-end bou­tiques and cor­po­rate chains. So step­ping into the fray re­quires a cer­tain edge in or­der to en­tice trav­ellers with more than just a clean room and com­pli­men­tary cof­fee. Though a rel­a­tively new kid on the block, Okko Ho­tels (the brand, helmed by pres­i­dent and founder Olivier Devys, opened its first lo­ca­tion in 2014 in the French city of Nantes) seems to be on to some­thing, cor­ner­ing the four-star ur­ban ho­tel mar­ket with su­per-stylish rooms and cov­eted lo­ca­tions in city cen­tres across France.

While part of Okko Ho­tels’ ap­peal is its stream­lined app-based check-in/check-out ser­vice and con­ve­niently po­si­tioned lo­ca­tions – its eighth out­post opened last year in Stras­bourg – the chain’s phi­los­o­phy goes be­yond of­fer­ing mod­ern con­ve­niences, plac­ing em­pha­sis on unique ex­pe­ri­ences through de­signs that feel fa­mil­iar with­out be­ing mo­not­o­nous.

To bring this ap­proach to life, Devys turned to French de­signer Pa­trick Norguet, whose now-iconic Rain­bow Chair (ac­quired by Cap­pellini af­ter Norguet de­buted it at the Paris Fur­ni­ture Fair in 1999) en­cap­su­lates his sig­na­ture use of so­phis­ti­cated colours and pure forms.

The chal­lenge with Okko was to de­velop a co­he­sive, rec­og­niz­able brand that also feels fresh at ev­ery en­counter. “In this world of stan­dard­iza­tion, we must flee rep­e­ti­tion,” says Norguet. “I ap­proach each ho­tel as a unique place – a blank page – and imag­ine sce­nar­ios that fa­cil­i­tate the cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence.”

One com­mon de­nom­i­na­tor of all the lo­ca­tions is the room size: a mere 18 square me­tres in which guests sleep, rest and work. Squeez­ing func­tion into such tight spa­ces with­out com­pro­mis­ing com­fort took se­ri­ous plan­ning. “We spent a lot of time study­ing and in­te­grat­ing the func­tions needed there,” Norguet says.

What helped was Norguet’s man­date to

“be fair, not fash­ion­able,” to find “a bal­ance be­tween func­tion and well-be­ing where the hu­man re­mains the heart of the sub­ject.” To that end, a pal­ette of re­fined yet play­ful colours and shapely fur­nish­ings – in­clud­ing pieces of his own, such as the award­win­ning Fox chair for Pe­drali – work to­gether to cre­ate en­vi­ron­ments that feel both time­less and con­tem­po­rary, where guests can feel at home dur­ing ev­ery stay. patric­knorguet.com, okko­ho­tels.com

ABOVE: Each Okko Ho­tels lo­ca­tion fea­tures cozy Club rooms in lieu of stan­dard re­cep­tion desks. Like this one in Stras­bourg, they of­fer guests snacks, read­ing ma­te­ri­als and a busi­ness cor­ner.

LEFT: Though small, the chain’s 18-squareme­tre rooms feel spa­cious thanks to a light, airy pal­ette.

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