August 4, 2021
Moët Hennessy Moves its Paris Headquarters to Historic Le Bon Marché
Located in the city’s oldest surviving department store and designed by Barbarito Bancel, the workplace features luxurious offices, social spaces, and multiple green terraces.
French luxury conglomerate LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy) has been much in the news recently with the reopening of fabled Parisian store La Samaritaine, which the group bought up in the late 1990s. But LVMH also owns the even more venerable Le Bon Marché, the oldest surviving Parisian department store (founded in 1852) and the only one on the Left Bank.
Clearly looking to capitalize on its prestigious real-estate holdings, the group has just moved the headquarters of one of its two founding companies—wine and spirits giant Moët Hennessy—to the upper floors of one of the Bon Marché buildings, where 104,000 square feet of bespoke offices, meeting rooms, and reception spaces have been designed for it by Franco-Italian architects Barbarito Bancel.
The new Moët Hennessy headquarters sits above what is today Le Bon Marché’s food hall, occupying the four final levels of an extension to the store that was built by Louis-Hippolyte Boileau in 1924–26. Though Boileau’s palatial Art Deco halls were sadly destroyed in 1979, the street facade and certain internal details, such as wrought-iron stair rails, hint at the building’s former glory, and it was in this tradition of French luxury that Ivana Barbarito and Benjamin Bancel set their interior makeover. Rather than banal offices, the architects prefer to think of their new headquarters as both “a place of empathy” and a “living space” that reflects evolving working habits in the age of Zoom.
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What this essentially translates into is a surfeit of bespoke furnishings and opulent finishes. The tone is set in the ground-floor entrance, with its dazzling Deco-style stairwell cladding and lighting made from vertical glass tubes clasped in brass rings. Where the two floors of offices proper are concerned, acres of glass and blond-wood partitions help spread the abundant natural light, which filters through from both the street and the courtyard (whose ledges and terraces have been thoroughly greenwashed.)
In the upper-floor meeting rooms and reception spaces, besides the quarry-loads of marble and the delicate straw marquetry in some of the window embrasures, specially made rugs and carpets cover every floor, woven from cartoons drawn by Barbarito Bancel that are intended to evoke “an aerial photo of a marine surface,” as Barbarito explains (water is the basic ingredient in all those wines and spirits). Even Boileau’s riveted steel columns, which here and there are left exposed for a dash of industrial chic, have been burnished to deep bronze and fitted with mirrors on their lateral faces.
The one thing the architects couldn’t decorate their way out of was the low ceiling heights, with the result that the proportions of these spaces mostly feel wrong for the kind of old-style elegance they were aiming at. The exception is the very large reception room on the top floor, which rises into the attic space above to create a palatial nave lit by generous clerestory windows.
You may also enjoy “La Samaritaine Reinvents the Paris Department Store for the 21st Centuruy”
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