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The Reception at Henrietta Hotel

Inside the beautiful, cinematic spaces of designer Dorothée Meilichzon

Dubbed one of the trendiest hotel designers in Paris, award-winning Dorothée Meilichzon talks to Effect Magazine about her passion for sparking joy though beautiful spaces.

Dorothée Meilichzon is in the business of creating experiences. Whether it’s stopping by for a drink at the Prescription Cocktail Club in Paris or spending the night at London’s hip Henrietta Hotel, just two of her unique hospitality concepts, guests can rest assured they are in for a good time from the moment they step through the door. “I love the idea of designing spaces where people have fun,” the Paris-based designer tells Effect Magazine. “Residential is mainly about style, but I’m more interested in creating concepts and experiences. My main goal is to ensure that people enjoy themselves.”

The story starts back in 2007 when three childhood friends, Olivier Bon, Pierre-Charles Cros and Romée De Goriainoff, gathered €70,000 to open a bar that would change Paris nightlife forever. Fifteen years later and the Experimental Group now owns and operates 14 stylish cocktail bars, restaurants and high-design hotels in six different countries around the world. Meilichzon, founder of global design agency Chozn, is the creative mastermind behind many of them.

“I was trained as an industrial designer and worked in design agencies for about six years,” she explains. “In 2009, thanks to the Experimental Group, I had the opportunity to work on my first cocktail bar, the Prescription Cocktail Club in Paris, and from that day on I knew my future lay in the hospitality industry.” Fast-forward 13 years later and not only is Meilichzon currently redesigning the same cocktail club for its reopening this spring – she has also worked her creative magic on 11 of the group’s other world-renowned bars and hotels, as well as more than 60 projects of her own, all of which come curated with her bold and beautiful style. “I’m not really into beiges and greys,” she adds. “I would describe my style as very round, colourful and, most of the time, maximalist.”

Dorothée Meilichzon, photographed by Karel Balas
Dorothée Meilichzon, photographed by Karel Balas

With such a smorgasbord of projects under her belt, it’s impossible for Meilichzon to pinpoint a favourite, yet when quizzed she references Menorca Experimental and Il Palazzo Experimental in Venice – two hotels which Experimental Group opened in 2019 – as those which are most certainly close to her heart. “Both are in places I truly love, and they were very challenging in terms of construction,” she says. “They had completely different styles and building techniques, but we had to design them at exactly the same time. That was really fun.”

I love the idea of designing spaces where people have fun. Residential is mainly about style, but I’m more interested in creating concepts and experiences. My main goal is to ensure that people enjoy themselves.

Dorothée Meilichzon, interior designer

And given that Meilichzon’s projects are scattered all over the world, it’s no surprise that location plays a big part when it comes to her inspirations and design processes, all of which she says start in the same way. “We start by doing a lot of research on the history of the neighbourhood, the style, architecture, local culture and local building techniques and then, when we think we have found the right story to tell, we start to draw.”

This statement is never truer than at Il Palazzo Experimental which, complete with marble finishings, lagoon-coloured walls, arched doorways and Venetian craftsmanship, was designed to mirror both its residence in a renaissance-era palace and location in one of the world’s most romantic cities. Not only are its 32 guest suites designed in a beautiful marriage of warm and cool tones – think baby pinks, sunshine yellows, moss greens and deep reds as a nod to the homes that line Dorsoduro’s canal ways – but many fixtures and furnishings are also arched to mimics the shape of window frames on traditional Italian buildings. Guests also love the quirky domed niches which play host to everything from reading nooks to vanity tables.

A suite at Il Palazzo Experimental Hotel, Venice, interior designed by Dorothée Meilichzon
A suite at Il Palazzo Experimental Hotel, Venice, interior designed by Dorothée Meilichzon (Karel Balas)

A converted 19th-century finca, Menorca Experimental, on the other hand, is an ode to the sun-kissed Balearic island lined with 43 light-bathed rooms inspired by an artist’s cottage. Located on the rocky municipality of Alaior on the south coast of the island, it brings with it a swathe of pastel hues, rustic farm furniture, hand-glazed terracotta tiles and timber floor planks, all surrounded by a contemporary ambiance.

Then there’s the Henrietta Hotel – “I’ll always have a crush on this hotel,” blushes Meilichzon – a stylish bolt hole in the middle of London’s Covent Garden which is also of note for its British sense of joie de vivre. Located in an elegant townhouse, it’s all marshmallowy chairs in vibrant jewel tones, terrazzo patterned carpets, pastel pink bathrooms and some of the most visually-appealing headboards in existence.

When it comes to furnishings, accessories and lighting, when Meilichzon and her team aren’t designing their own bespoke pieces (which is most of the time, to be fair), she is hunting down local talent or designers that “are linked to the story we are telling.”

Sustainability is another key focus for the interior designer, something which you will see featured across a number of her projects. “It’s something we started to incorporate a long time ago,” she explains. “We learn more and more every day because it’s not always easy to have the right information to do things properly.” Menorca Experimental, for example, was constructed with local materials and aims to educate guests about local ecosystems, history and culture. Mindful of energy efficiency, it also uses solar panels, LED lighting and motion sensors, while ingredients for the kitchen come from local suppliers where possible.

Next in the pipeline is a big hotel project in Portugal that will be made of 100% biomaterials, both construction and interior. “It’s thanks to this project we’ve learnt a lot,” she adds. As always, it’s non-stop for Meilichzon right now. Having just completed an airport boarding area in Paris which will open later this month, she is currently working on a number of projects simultaneously, including hotels in Corsica, Portugal, Ibiza, St Moritz and Rome. “Then there’s a really fun interior project of a bubble house made by the architect Jean-Benjamin Maneval which I can’t wait to reveal.” And we can’t wait to see it.

Effect Magazine is brought to you by Effetto