Paola Navone, muse of interior design for COMO • Hotel Designs
From Thailand to Tuscany, leafing through Paola Navone’s COMO portfolio is a journey through both design and destination. She’s a designer who always commands attention with her strong visual statements, and that signature has woven into her story and her work with the brand. She approaches each project with a fresh eye and innovative designs, allowing for a strong sense of place and context.
On COMO’s website, it says “Italian designer Paola Navone is one of COMO’s biggest inspirations”, so we started the conversation by asking her about this relationship and how it started.
“I have known Cristina Ong for many years. We immediately shared an appreciation for the same kind of understated luxury – intangible, never pushy and respectful. I had the chance to design COMO Point Yamu and we chose to design a hotel entirely made with materials available in Thailand, taking advantage of the incredible Thai craft traditions. It was a great creative adventure that was followed by other very special collaborations with COMO all over the world. The most recent are in Europe, with COMO Castello del Nero in Tuscany and the new COMO Le Montrachet in Burgundy.
It is clear, looking at Navone’s work in all mediums, that there is a love for travel expressed through her designs, as she has the ability to extract what is essential to a destination and to communicate it in detail. It has a rich history in the wider design movement and can trace its roots and influences from its membership of the Alchimia family in the late 1970s to today where it is still considered cutting edge of contemporary design. There remains an irreverence and an eclecticism that run through his creations and that comfortably rub shoulders with the multifaceted influences that come from travel.
“Much of my free and unconventional way of thinking comes from my involvement with the Alchimia family, the anti-academic side of architecture in Italy in the late seventies. sure my nomadic attitude, my Mediterranean roots and my sense of beauty linked to simplicity and imperfection.
The Nomad’s love of travel clearly informs designs and provides insight into what makes a successful hotel interior concept and design. “When I travel, I like to breathe in the atmosphere of the place where I am. I always like to say that when you wake up in a hotel room, you have to open your eyes and feel where you are. is to be found, whether on a Mediterranean island, in India or in New York, so when I design hotel interiors, I always try to convey to the guests an instinctive connection with the environment, a natural feeling of belonging to the place, always in a contemporary, relaxing and joyful way.
Despite a substantial portfolio in hospitality and hotel design, Navone’s projects never became stereotypical. But like most designers, there is a common strand or element that runs through the body of work. She discussed a bit more about how each project is unique and what connects the COMO projects she’s worked on, the common element, and it’s a feeling rather than a design build physical.
“Each of my projects stems from a particular alchemy, which is why they are always unique. It’s a bit like in the cinema, where each film is unique because the story, the actors and the costumes are different, even if the director is always the same. What connects each project for COMO Hotels and Resorts is the feeling, the special attention paid to the overall well-being of the customers linked to the pleasure of spending quality time in a beautiful place.
“When you wake up in a hotel room, you have to open your eyes and feel where you are” – Paola Navone
With so many beautiful hotels and resorts in the COMO portfolio, we had to ask Navone as a designer if she had a favorite – not necessarily the biggest and boldest project she’s worked on with the COMO brand. , but the one that for her stands out on a personal level. Without hesitation, COMO Point Yamu was at the top of his list.
“COMO Hotels and Resorts are always located in wonderful places around the world, and that’s the number one thing that makes them so special. COMO Point Yamu is immersed in the beautiful natural landscape of Phuket and even the smallest details are designed to involve the guest in the magic of the natural environment. Point Yamu demonstrates very well what I love to do in my work, incorporating my passion for craft traditions, my taste for the imperfect beauty of natural materials and the idea that even everyday things can have a surprising chance of a new life.
QUICK FIRE HANDLE
Pauline Brettell: What is your favorite space in the new COMO Le Montrachet hotel?
Paula Navon: As with all COMO properties, guest well-being will be at the heart of the experience, even at Le Montrachet. The COMO Shambhala Retreat, known worldwide for its wellness treatments and therapies, will be one of the surprising highlights of the project
PB: Your favorite (or essential) color/palette?
PN: I have an instinctive attraction for cold colors, the nuances of air and water
PB: A favorite COMO hotel 1) as a traveler and 2) as a designer
PN: Part traveler and part designer, I look forward to visiting Bhutan, relaxing and enjoying the breathtaking Himalayan vistas that COMO Uma Paro has to offer.
PB: Next destination on your travel bucket list?
PN: COMO Uma Paro!
As the hospitality industry and interior designers begin to take a hard look at the design process, we briefly walked away from Montrachet and turned to the larger, broader question that is on everyone’s lips in this moment, the question of sustainable and ethical design. Navone’s response makes it clear that this is not a new concept for her, but one that has always been an integral and unconscious element of her designs.
“My way of thinking about design, linked to simplicity and respect for the craft traditions of the world, naturally embodies the idea of sustainability. I like to introduce the simplicity and the poetry hidden in the natural materials and the raw finishes present in the industrial process. It’s not always easy, but what happens is always full of wonder.
Looking at the details and the integration of craftsmanship and handcrafted finishes is what always draws me to these designs, there is always the element of innovation as she is able to see the extraordinary in the ordinary. She excels in the magical process of taking an everyday utilitarian object and turning it into a design statement, the vision in which the lobster basket becomes statement lighting, woven wicker is scaled and becomes a wall. Trying to get a glimpse of what’s going on behind closed doors in the Le Montrachet project, we thought we’d ask her if she’s found anything in this corner of France that calls for reuse and design inspiration? But she kept her designer cards close to her chest!
“We like to discover the excellence in the craftsmanship of the places where we work. Meeting local artisans and getting to know their craft is always an exciting part of the project for us and a great source of inspiration. countless traditions and it will be beautiful to express them in the design of this exciting new hotel.Working on an existing property with so much history, the challenge is to create an element of surprise in a special and respectful way. history has never been an obstacle for us, but a great creative opportunity.In keeping with COMO’s style, everything in the Le Montrachet project will be very light and soft, so as not to overshadow the special charm of the place.
So for now, it seems that “light and soft” is our only taste for design things coming to Montrachet!
Opening later this year COMO Le Montrachet has consistently been listed as one of the most anticipated hotel openings of 2022, and Paola Navone’s role as interior designer on this project is generating as much interest as the opening of the hotel itself. With everything going on behind closed doors, we’re intrigued and waiting to see the results of what his signature style and trademark contemporary touches will bring to the historic 18th century property in the highly prized Cote-d’Or.
Main image credit: Giovanni Gastel