Architects, gallery owners, antique dealers, garden designers, artistic directors, graphic designers and sound designers have all visited the hotel to take the pulse of Les Roches Rouges and its environment. Dipping into the past to construct a radiant future, they have together contributed to the composition of this new hotspot, as it inscribes itself in the history of the Côte d’Azur.
Alexandre Guillemain, furniture with soul
Alexandre Guillemain, a specialist in mid-century furniture, sells iconic pieces at his stand at the famous Saint-Ouen flea market in Paris. Highly knowledgeable and passionate about design, he has spent almost twenty years seeking out exceptional pieces that he sells to interior designers in France and abroad. For Les Roches Rouges he travelled around the south of France sourcing vintage rattan furniture, brass lamps and farmhouse tables, bringing a touch of Riviera charm to the hotel décor.
Be-poles: forging the soul of Les Roches Rouges
“The architect creates space, and we give it meaning.” Antoine Ricardou, the founder and art director of be-poles, has been working on the visual identity of Les Roches Rouges since the hotel’s early days. His company started out as a graphic design studio, but now describes itself as a “creative hub”, working closely with the owner to give the interior an authentic local flavour, and selecting artworks for display at reception and in the bedrooms. The result: luxury with a difference, more sensitive to its Provencal surroundings, less perfect, steering well clear of pastiche.
The fragrance laboratory
In their laboratory in Grasse, Edouard and Fabrice concoct exclusive fragrances for sale in their stores all over the world. Le Labo has created a range of shower gels, shampoos, conditioners, body lotions and other products for the hotel, distinctively and evocatively fragranced with fresh, light Mediterranean bergamot.
“We’ve very much enjoyed our project for Les Roches Rouges,” he says. “We really appreciated the freedom their creative team gave us.” Le Labo also makes candles containing Calone, a fragrance evoking the scents of the sea, which burn in the reception area to create a beach-house feel.
Stan Alaguillaume, for the love of gardens
Gardener, landscape architect, troubleshooter, and passionate about gardens… After graduating from the famous school of landscape architecture in Versailles, Stan Alaguillaume moved south to Marseilles, where he has lived ever since, working on multiple projects from Corsica to Morocco. He has also undertaken two botanical expeditions across the globe to seek out plants to introduce and acclimatise to local climates. A champion of dry gardens, Stan came to Les Roches Rouges to work with rather than against nature, planting myrtle, pomegranates, rosemary and lavender in the shade of fragrant pines, and a thicket of scented scrub that looks as though it has grown there since time immemorial.
Festen, the art of staging
The design duo Festen wanted to return the hotel to its côte d’azur origins, to an era of barefoot luxury, by increasing access between the indoor and outdoor spaces. In order to do this they opened up the 50s/60s-style building towards the sea, simplifying its lines and bringing it back to its former glory, inspired notably by Eileen Gray’s villa E1027. They have succeeded not only in conserving the aesthetic and visual language of the French Riviera, but also in creating an environment that allows guests to forget their daily lives during their stay at Les Roches Rouges. Blending terracotta, oak and plastered walls to create a peaceful oasis that never competes with the majestic view. From the bar to the individually designed bedrooms, to the relaxed and welcoming restaurant looking out over the sea, every detail has been carefully considered. This is a tailor-made hotel that blends perfectly with the surrounding landscape.
Victor Kiswell’s sunny musical backdrop
Sound producer Victor Kiswell has put his finger on the hotel’s pulse and come up with a suitably sundrenched selection of background music. Drawing on his experience of unearthing musical nuggets for composers and producers, he’s created a selection of podcasts for different areas of the hotel, from the rooms to the bars. As the day progresses, classic sixties New York jazz evolves into bossa nova and samba, with each soundtrack carefully tailored to the space.
The playlist at the La Terrasse restaurant is muted and debonair, that of the beachside restaurant more rhythmic. Victor has also designed one for the bedrooms, infused with Mediterranean sensuality, a musical metaphor for the spirit of the hotel.
Benjamin Desprez and Hélène Breheret, looking back
Antique dealers Hélène Breheret and Benjamin Desprez have over ten years experience dealing in furniture by French designers from the second half of the twentieth century. Connoisseurs of raw and natural materials, they distil an entire bohemian universe, finding pieces by Charlotte Perriand and Jacques Adnet for clients in Paris, New York and Los Angeles. Based in Angers, they first met Les Roches Rouge team at the Art Elysée fair. The design team at Les Roches Rouges fell for the work of Guy Bareff, whose wall lights adorn the walls of the restaurant. Other gems uncovered for the hotel include a pair of cement garden armchairs by Willy Guhl.
The master candlemaker of Auribeau
Sebastien Bojo makes handcrafted candles in his studio in Auribeau, in the heart of the perfume region between Cannes and Grasse. He blends and steeps the raw materials, and then pours them into moulds and containers. His specialties include citronella candles, which are very popular for keeping mosquitoes at bay on summer evenings. The little bright green, yellow and orange candleholders, made by a potter in Spain, are dotted around the hotel.
Gwenaëlle Grandjean, planting the seed
Gwenaëlle Grandjean cultivated an interest in the way plants contribute to our daily lives through her architectural collaborations with landscapers. She eventually decided to take the plunge herself and signed up at the French National School of Landscape Architecture in Versailles, which is when the Hôtel des Roches Rouges project landed on her desk. Gwenaëlle teamed up with Marseille-based gardener and landscape architect Stan Alaguillaume, for whom the local flora holds few secrets: “I like the transience of the garden, and the ability to use it as a setting for short-, medium- and long-term scenarios. In this case, the idea was to move away from the notion of a garden in the conventional sense. We used plants that were already growing on the land and added typical Mediterranean shrubs to create a sense of continuity with the Esterel, as if the massif were tumbling straight into the sea.”