Like a small conservatory, its steel frame impeccably lacquered green, the hôtel Windsor Opéra’s single-story entry pops up unexpectedly on a street not far from the tatty hubbub of the Paris garment district. “It was an old, small hotel, like so many that still exist here,” Maidenberg Architecture’s Philippe Maidenberg says. “Almost everything was redone. Except the classic Parisian spirit.”
In the part of the lobby housed in the conservatory structure, Maidenberg replaced glass in the roof, an 1850 original, and redesigned the facade’s windows to align with the roof’s struts. He also lowered the floor 16½ inches, truly to ground level, to allow for wheelchair access to the lobby and two guest rooms. To provide a counterpoint the ground level’s anthracite-gray ceramic floor tile he chose vivid colors: plum for walls, hot orange and molten yellow for upholstery and curtains. The guest rooms come in quiet two-color combinations of pale or dark gray with pea green, blush pink, or Iilac. Wonderfully old-fashioned wardrobes are painted in coordinating colors.
Much more modern is the segment of a Boeing 747 cabin that Maidenberg installed in the reception area. That single item inspired the hotel’s owner, Vincent Haen, to acquire from designer and antiques dealer Pierre Farman a handful of furnishings and sculptures made from the highly polished aluminum of vintage aircraft. Suspended from the breakfast room’s ceiling, the propeller of a cargo plane is flanked by cloudlike pendant fixtures. A pair of rocket-shape sentinels, actually the fuel reservoirs of fighter gets, stand guard in the lobby, where the sconces are jet sidelights. In a niche, a propeller blade from a fighter-pilot training plane reaches upward, referencing Constantin Brancusi’s Bird in Space.
Farman just happens to belong to a famed aviation family. His grandfather Dick Farman was one of the founders of Air France. —Judy Foyard