Thierry d’Istria is a French designer who’s work ranges from hotels and shops to restaurants and furniture, always expressed with passion, wit and a playful trademark. With a unique and collaborative approach to materials, colours and design details, Thierry has created a series of sophisticated and inspiring spaces throughout Tribe Paris Batignolles.
NOTHING IS LEFT TO CHANCE
“No detail is left to chance to tell a story that disrupts the ‘expected’ –
everyone is invited to choose the space they want, and to feel inspired.”
Can you tell us about the process of creating a hotel interior like Tribe?
Tribe is ‘global design’. You have to think of everything as a whole and make sense of it. For that, we begin with a concrete slab and a raw space. For my job, that’s great. But I think that many hotels known as ‘lifestyle’ are just tinkering from A to Z, hunting for objects and recruiting a young team.
Tribe is a much more sophisticated concept. From a raw space you have to succeed in telling a story that provokes emotions, that makes our guests react, whether they are design experts or not. This requires a balance between the spaces, the elements that define them and the objects that decorate them.
The social hub is a series of different areas, each with a specific atmosphere. Each space is separated by bookshelves, a bar, a sofa, or iconic design objects. Everyone is free to choose the lounge they want to sit in and let their gaze wander and be inspired. From chosen objects to those that we have created ourselves, nothing is left to chance to tell a story that disrupts the ‘expected’. Tribe is not a design ‘museum’ – we focus on iconic objects but not the ones that have already been seen.
Where did your inspiration for Tribe Paris Batignolles come from?
When I visited Tribe Perth in Australia, I quickly understood the principles of the brand. I immediately put pressure on myself because I had to do something different whilst also respecting the brand’s many parameters. Each Tribe must have its own ‘vibe’, its own spirit. This is what’s most exciting for everyone on each of the projects.
For Tribe Paris Batignolles, we started with constraints. It’s a renovation, so the space is constrained and not ‘raw’ as it would be for a new construction. So we had to play with the materials to dress and build the set.
For the social hub, we first tackled the ceiling to work on the acoustics of the space. We played with materials from industrial and office design but tinted them to transform them with a chic and innovative look. For example, we found perforated metal blades from Armstrong and painted them in metallic copper.
We added two lighting systems to make the space as ‘photogenic’ as possible. We have sets of LEDs to showcase objects like in a museum and for atmosphere, we have added a tube system designed by FLOS which offers 3 possibilities of brightness to illuminate and enhance the ceiling. The result is spectacular.
There are large windows in the guest rooms of Tribe Perth. In Batignolles, the windows are smaller so we had to be inventive by integrating mirrors on each side. This approach enlarges the room as soon as you enter it – you feel like you’re lost in space. In the evening, all you need is a black blind to find yourself in its cocoon.
“I just surrounded myself with members of my own tribe – creative friends who have the same work philosophy as I do. Those that I admire for their know-how and their ability to challenge the status quo.”
Can you tell us about the collaborators you worked with for Tribe Paris Batignolles? What drove your choices?
I just surrounded myself with members of my own tribe – creative friends who have the same work philosophy as I do. Those that I admire for their know-how and their ability to challenge the status quo. We have all the talent in France to be able to instil within a Tribe hotel this ‘creative gap’ that the general public does not necessarily know.
Ionna Vautrin is an illustrator, but above all is a specialist in Industrial Design. I like people who have double hats. She has developed exclusive illustrations for the Tribe rooms in her super naughty spirit. When it’s a Parisian who draws this kind of sketch, it sounds good. Her works will also be available on eco-friendly wooden postcards in the hotel.
In each guest room there is also a bear sculpture from Mustache, designed by Benjamin Gradoche. Mustache has a hyper creative editorial line – always amazing – and collaborates with incredible designers outside of traditional design fields. These bears are a limited series with a graphic application specific to Tribe Paris Batignolles.
The lighting company ARPEL had been working on a lighting concept very inspired by the 80s. I pushed François-Xavier Ballery to finalise this concept for Tribe. The first two of the series – we could even say ‘prototype’ – are visible in the social hub.
We have also created a range of armchairs and a shelving system in collaboration with SOCA. Named SKANE, in homage to a region of Sweden, these are simple but spectacular pieces, very much in the Tribe spirit.
What was the toughest challenge during the project to overcome? And the most exciting too?
The Tribe universe is carefully constructed through a succession of details. Each element is a part of the whole story we want to tell. The biggest challenge is to keep the thread of this story in the sequence of spaces – we must not let go of this thread and always challenge ourselves. Many of these details are not immediately apparent to our visitors. But it does help with the overall vibe of the social hub. Unconsciously they will feel the effort made to receive them. And that’s what I love the most.
Did you always know that you wanted to be a designer?
When I was little I didn’t even know it was a job. I remember moments, flashes that revealed this universe to me.
I grew up in a creative world and have always drawn. My engineer father drew all the time and had exhibitions of his works in felt-tip pen. Around the age of 7 or 8–9 years old, my parents took me to the Vasarely Foundation near Aix en Provence. I was blown away by his creativity and aesthetic inventiveness. I consider this visit as a starting point for my passion. Another moment that stood out for me was discovering the design of a Bang & Olufsen hifi system in the 80s. It was crazy and innovative. These are visual shocks that are remembered and that inspire for a lifetime.
When I was 15, I started designing my own surf and windsurf boards in Corsica. It was becoming obvious to me. Drawing, but with constraints, has become a passion with the ultimate goal of finishing with an object with a perfect finish for my taste. I then joined an Industrial Design school. Two weeks after school started, I knew it was my voice.
Of course, I’m telling you this now, but we only realise after flashes that mark you.
If you weren’t a designer, what would you be?
Astrophysicist or the fifth member of New Order.
What project or design are you most proud of in your career?
The next one or more… I adore time travel.
Are there any new innovative designs that you’re currently working on?
We are working on the design of a small light for the next Tribe with the company ARPEL. The codes and the name promise to surprise you. To be continued… (I cannot say any more at this stage!)