Monumental wall covering in translucent lacework of Corian® solid surface turns Brussels hotel into a place of pilgrimage for design lovers
When Portuguese designer, architect, artist and top chef Antoine Pinto takes on a new project he gives it 200% of his creativity, as witnessed in the reopening of the Hotel Sofitel Brussels Le Louise, a five star hotel on Guldenvlieslaan in the fashionable Louisa district.
This was no superficial touch-up of the hotel’s interior but a complete architectural makeover. The monumental eye-catcher in this ingenious facelift is a translucent wall à jour made from Corian® solid surface, which creates a unique atmosphere in the hotel lobby.
Pinto was faced with a sizeable challenge in renovating the Hotel Sofitel Brussels Le Louise. In what is an extremely complicated technical and architectural context, Pinto managed to visually open up the narrow entrance, lobby and adjacent Cristal Lounge, representative of the five-star status that this top class hotel definitely merits.
Majestic lace wall
Pinto, a Belgian native, has created many remarkable integral projects, including La Quincaillerie and Belga Queen restaurants in Brussels, the Docks Café in Antwerp and the Ostend Queen in Ostend. He knows the catering trade inside-out and knows exactly how to integrate the necessary elements to transform any hotel or restaurant into an unconditional success. As a complete all-around artist, Pinto uses integration as his primary approach. His hallmark makeovers involve the entire interior, including furniture, decor, cutlery and even staff uniforms.
Antoine Pinto: “It takes a lot of insight and a sound knowledge of materials to put together a successful formula like this. I’ve known about and exploited Corian® properties as a solid, nonporous surface material for some time now, but had to set exceptionally high requirements when applying it in the Sofitel Brussels Le Louise project.
“I based the concept of the magisterial wall dominating the hotel lobby on a medieval pattern of Brussels lace, which had to be carved à jour from the solid piece of Corian®. It took a long time to find a company that was able to carve this complicated decorative pattern, and they did it using water jet technology.
“The result, which I like to call a “cultural relief,” is rich in symbolism. After all, Brussels lace was for a long time an important source of income for many of the city’s residents. Indirect lighting is used behind the 8-metre high wall, which features an enlarged pattern of lace in translucent Corian®. The visual effect is remarkable: it opens up the relatively narrow, dark and cold entrance and lobby in a decorative way, bathes them in light, and creates airiness.”
Carefully composed contrasts
Pinto wouldn’t be Pinto if he didn’t go for a remarkable contrasting effect. The glass walls of the impressive escalator leading to the lobby entrance are bathed in a mix of amethyst and blue light - colours that emanate from the impressive crystal chandelier high up against the ceiling. The light from the “lace wall” is reflected by the mysterious violet of the chandelier, creating a unique interplay of light.
This mixture of amethyst and blue recurs in the interior of the hotel’s Cristal Lounge restaurant and bar. Pinto took great care in designing the furniture, which features tables in wengé wood with built-in lighting. Other salient features are the immense “Coeur de Bruxelles” easy chairs by Belgian manufacturer Durlet.