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Art program It's an extension of the brand

Text: Nomades & Anne Bessaguet - Photos: Benoit Linero, Sylvain Lewis, be-poles studios - Video: Nomades

“It's like offering a gift that you'd like to receive yourself. Everything on the wall is something I'd like to have in my own home.”

virginie boulenger, art program curator
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Hôtel Le Pigalle
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What does the Art Program consist of, exactly?

Virginie Boulenger

It's an extension of the brand. We start from a theme suggested by the client and develop stories that are more intimate and personal. It's what we did for the NoMad hotels, Le Pigalle and Le Barn Hôtel.

What was the theme of the NoMad Hotel?

Virginie Boulenger

For the first hotel in New York, we started off with the very broad theme of travel because of the hotel's  “nomad” name. In Los Angeles, the building used to belong to the Bank of Italy. The hotel's identity was naturally based on this heritage. We searched for connections between Italy and California. It was very productive.

We start from a photo and immerse ourselves in a story.

VB
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The NoMad hotel, Los Angeles

Do you always tell a story that inspires you?

Virginie Boulenger

Yes, always. In each room, we start with a photo shot by a commissioned photographer. Then, we let our imaginations wander to create a world that means something to people, a world where they can find themselves or become someone else, sharing travel memories, for instance.

There are not only photos.

virginie boulenger

The world we create is composed of many different things—items we found at a flea market, drawings and so on. We collect a certain amount of material and then distribute it among the rooms.

What's the story behind the NoMad in Los Angeles?

virginie boulenger

Here, the strategy consists in creating beautiful visual parallels between Italy and California. Sometimes this can create a confusion—you don't know whether you're in one country or the other. We enter the home of someone who could live in California, who might collect drawings and old photos, who might have traveled to Rome and kept a metro ticket as a souvenir, who might have found a nice little engraving in northern Italy, in Venice... 

There are always notes on the back of press photos. A place, a date, a first name, a circumstance. A soul.

VB
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You use lots of press photos.

virginie boulenger

Yes, especially in the Los Angeles NoMad. They are in black and white, timeless. There are always notes on the back. A place, a date, a first name, a circumstance. That gives them an extra bit of soul.

Does the Art Program as a whole reflect an artistic imperative?

virginie boulenger

Our imperative at the Los Angeles NoMad was to update old stylistic options. In particular, as concerns interior decoration. We thus brought together old objects and more contemporary elements like vinyl record album covers, collages and drawings.

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Park MGM, Las Vegas

How did you choose the frames?

virginie boulenger

In each room, there is a predefined frame composition. We let ourselves be guided by the setting, the materials, the lighting and a color. We always emphasize a contrast between old and new. We try to choose a line of frames with moldings that are more or less narrow or baroque. A very streamlined molding in oak is enough to break the vintage style.

We try to avoid irrelevancy.

VB
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Hôtel des Roches Rouges
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Is there beauty in coherency?

virginie boulenger

We try to avoid irrelevancy. It's beautiful because it's always authentic. Depth is in the detail. When we choose postcards, we like to make a little hint to the first names of the people who received them. 

Is each room a sort of travel diary?

virginie boulenger

That's the idea. And this diary is created with the little flower you brought back from a hike and pressed between the pages of a book, with an envelope you kept because the hotel logo was so pretty, with the drawing you made seated on a bench because the view inspired you and you framed it or merely tacked it to your wall.

It's the art of creating intimacy and inviting people to enter a singular setting.

VB
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The NoMad Hotel, New York

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Le Pigalle, Paris: @freddieharrel
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@catwalk_junkie
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@ntvngn

So that's the Art Program?

virginie boulenger

Actually, the idea is to have a very eclectic choice of elements that could be part of your own home interior.

That's very trendy.

virginie boulenger

More and more, hotels are trying to move away from grandiose, sanitized concepts where all the rooms are the same. When you're in your room, you don't even look around you because nothing catches your attention. 

It's very personal, too.

virginie boulenger

Yes. Something on the wall can't be merely a photo or a drawing. It must create an environment that speaks to us. It's something very subjective. We carried out the first Art Program with Antoine, and our idea was to re-create the world we had at home. We told each other that we'd just suggest things we like and would see what happened. 

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It's the art of creating intimacy and inviting people to enter a singular setting.

virginie boulenger

The idea was to make people want to discover a new room each time and hope that they would perceive its singularities in their own way.

Your intention is admirable and authentic.

virginie boulenger

It's very nice that a hotel has entrusted us from the very beginning to tell stories like these.

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Follow up with

Le Pigalle

What I wanted was to create a neighborhood hotel. I wanted the neighborhood to enter the hotel, both literally and figuratively. A place where the neighborhood could speak and talk to one another.

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A contemporary seaside resort

The combination of this artistic influx and the surrounding natural beauty influenced the architectural landscape of this coast.

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