Olivia Putman has totally revamped the Sofitel hotel by the Arc de Triomphe. And proving that the apple doesn’t fall very far from the tree – she’s the daughter of Andrée Putman, the late iconic designer – the lighting is superb and the furniture is stylishly severe albeit comfortable. Nevertheless, after attending yesterday’s launch – a packed event which poured out onto the pavement outside – I realise the importance of installing intimacy in a hotel’s entrance and ground floor.
Naturally, the lobby is expansive and welcoming but via a newly created corridor which gives access to the restaurant and other eating areas, it is possible to walk through, peer in and view what is going on but without being seen. Olivia and her team have achieved this by forming walls using a varnished black wood shuttered effect. Being mildly voyeuristic, it manages to create the right ambience and deals with that odd topsy-turvy emotion of arriving at a hotel, wanting to hide yet fearing isolation, somehow. With her clever partitioning, Olivia’s Sofitel envelopes and protects. And of course, the bedrooms are easy on the eye and the bathrooms have 1930s-type elements, power showers and/or bath tubs.
"With her clever partitioning, Olivia’s Sofitel envelopes and protects"
Like most elegant Parisians, I met Olivia through Christian Louboutin. They were at school together although endless photographs indicate that more time was spent at Le Palace nightclub! And I’ve watched her evolve from being a prize-winning landscape gardener to taking over Studio Putman in 2007 and in quick succession installing the Madeleine Vionnet show at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, dreaming up a new bottle for Nina Ricci’s L’Air du Temps and creating killer chic office furniture for Made.com (made.com.) This is just a tiny list of Olivia’s accomplishments. Finally, no one carries off a Burberry trench like she does!
Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni is a Paris-based British writer who covers fashion and lifestyle as well as being the author of Sam Spiegel – The Biography of A Hollywood Legend, Understanding Chic, an essay from the Paris Was Ours anthology, the soon-to-be released Tino Zervudachi – A Portfolio – as well as the Chanel book, for Assouline's fashion series.
Robert Beck is former New Yorker currently based in Paris. A former classical dancer, his book for children titled "A Bunny in the Ballet" will be available early in 2014 from Scholastic, Inc.