In the luxurious surroundings of the Fairmont Le Montreux Palace, Aedas has designed the belle époque hotel in tune with the town’s yearly jazz festival...
Words by Emily Martin
Images by Fairmont Le Montreux Palace
Client: Fairmont Le Montreux Palace
Size: 650 sq m
Duration: Four months
Cost: Not disclosed
As we're still officially in festival season it's seemly to bring you a festival-related project, We've headed to Montreux in Switzerland, which sees the world-famous Jazz Festival transform the scenic town every July.
Here Aedas has provided Montreux with its own Jazz Café, which has opened at the belle epoque Fairmont Le Montreux Palace hotel and references the ties between festival and hotel, hosting music artists since 1967. The guest list of the hotel, a tourist landmark in its own right, has included big names in music - BB King, James Brown, David Bowie, Miles Davis, Roberta Flack, Prince, Leonard Cohen, Joe Cocker, Santana and Grace Jones.
Tough Swiss regulations barred a working fire, so vapour is used along with soft leather seating to create the cosy chalet feel in the lounge
Aedas set out to deliver a design scheme reflective of the hotel's journey. 'The brief was very simple: it had to feel like a festival every day as well as having the spirit of festival founder Claude Nobs in it,' says Federico Toresi, director at Aedas Interiors. Since its beginnings, the festival has been entwined with Fairmont Le Montreux Palace, which was constructed in 1906 overlooking Lake Geneva.
The design scheme echoes the history of the hotel while creating the depth and the colours of the festival. 'The youthfulness of the festival combined with the stateliness of the hotel could have been a disaster, but actually was a marriage made in heaven,' says Toresi, with Aedas creating a 'sequences of spaces that engages and tells the history of the place.'
The hotel's new Funky Claude's Bar, given the nickname of the jazz festival's founder 'Funky' Claude Nobs
Creating three main spaces - bar, lounge and cafe - the scheme evokes the warmth of Nobs' own chalet, his famous hang-out with seemingly countless famous names in music.
A colour palette featuring chocolate, red, and purple provide a fusion of cosy jazz clubs and the chalet aesthetic. The walls are decorated with objects from Nobs' private collection, audiovisual archive footage, and black and white photographs.
'Here is the only recognised UNESCO World Heritage music collection of live recordings,' says Toresi with the recordings forming part of a new digital library. 'You can really understand that the festival wasn't just a fad, but more of a way of life for some of the people here in Montreux.' Different to other jazz café venues, which feel more 'Scandinavian' and are typically found in fast-moving locations such as major cities, the Montreux venue needed to be calmer to suit its location, while also creating revenue for the hotel.
The Jazz Café offers a relaxed yet elegant dining space with lake views
The lounge features a centre-stage fire and flue, and circular soft seating. Mid-build however new Swiss regulations came into effect forbidding the fireplace to have a real fire. 'We had to be careful with how to get around this and luckily we could use a vapour, which looks like a real flame,' says Toresi.
The bar - named Funky Claude's Bar after Claude Nobs' nickname - is conceived as a 'polished drinking den' and has original belle epoque features including vaulted, gilded ceilings and curved window seats. 'It's a listed venue so we couldn't do too much to the space,' explains Toresi. Aedas set about restoring the window seats and teaming them with marble tables. An extendable stage now also features beyond the bar for daily performances.
The library lounge, located next to the lounge
Next to the kitchen is the cafe proper, which offers the magnificent views over the lake. 'This space is all about the views but it's also a place to dine in a relaxed atmosphere', Toresi says.
'And it being in a five-star palace, we wanted to take the stuffiness out of the service.' Aedas also gave consideration to the Jazz Café's brand, with the spaces created to look 'organically grown' to reflect the festival.The project has provided the foundation for Aedas to set up its interiors division in Europe, which the practice was keen to establish.
Toresi says it's been nothing short of a delight of a project and has led to other commissions at the hotel, including its first-floor restaurant: 'There was no way we were going to lose that job! It is such a beautiful place and we really wanted to be there. Our relationship with the client is excellent.'
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