Russian twin sister designers Irina and Olga Sundukovy treated the interiors of an MGallery by Sofitel hotel located steps away from the Versailles palace and gardens in France to a royal makeover, paying homage to the Sun King’s Baroque style with an irreverent contemporary twist.
The Château de Versailles and its gardens designed by French landscaper André Le Nôtre is one of the most over-the-top, widely emulated exercises in royal architecture the world has ever known. A few centuries later, Louis XIV’s former home base is still a defining symbol of classical French style. However, design keeps moving forward – so when the time came to renovate the interiors of a hotel located 200m from the château, on the site of a former equestrian arena built in 1854, the brief included respecting the extraordinary history of the location without succumbing to the gilded clichés of the past. This tricky balancing act was entrusted to Irina and Olga Sundukovy, Russian twins with a clever take on classical elegance and a knack for fresh contemporary design, and the hotel was reborn in 2017 as MGallery by Sofitel’s four-star Hôtel Le Louis Versailles Château.
‘As Russian designers, we know what tourists expect from Versailles,’ says Irina. ‘So we tried to mix an interesting perspective of its French historical roots, but in a modern way because firstly, nobody can repeat it now and secondly, we don’t need to repeat it.’ The women first visited Versailles around the time they established the Moscow-based Sundukovy Sisters in 2004, an award-winning firm of 60 that’s designed hotels and restaurants across Europe, Asia, America and Australia. ‘We don’t usually work in this classical style, but of course, it’s like the heart of all the design that came after, so it really made a big impression,’ says Olga. When the sisters returned, they were flooded with inspiration thanks to the architecture and gardens, studying every detail from flooring to wall decorations and the geometrical shapes of the landscaping.
To reference the palace’s architectural details, they added French crystal chandeliers, antique mirrors and mouldings in judicious amounts to complement modern furnishings and finishes. Greens and gold tones used throughout are both on trend and inspired by the flora and gilding of the palace and gardens. And they were sure to add a shot of their signature sense of irony, with a portrait in the breakfast room of a young woman from the neck down – a stealthy wink to the untimely demise of the infamous former lady of the house.
‘We didn’t want to be too obvious in our design,’ says Irina. ‘We like to work on a level of ideas where not everyone can find the association, but if someone does find it, they’ll be glad. And if they don’t, they still won’t be disappointed with the design.’ sofitel.com
TEXT: KRISTIN HOHENADEL; PHOTOGRAPHS: NICOLAS MATHÉUS