In the wake of winning the special Jury Prize for their innovative hotel concept that they unveiled at Accor Design Awards, Yasmine Bennani, Solène Percie Du Serf, Nicolas Alibert and Alexandre Albert-Picquet from L’Ecole de Design Nantes Atlantique speak to editor Hamish Kilburn about the unique materials explored in this hotel experience of tomorrow…
The Coccon project, a hotel concept unveiled by the students from L’Ecole de Design Nantes Atlantique, was one of the highlights of Accor Design Awards in 2021. The sustainable shells of each ‘cabin’ or ‘suite’ stunned the judges with the designers’ level of creativity, flair and knowledge of innovative materials.
The hotel presented to the judges catered to the rising demand of bleisure travel. Forget the typical corporate shell, though, because this hotel suite concept – made from biopolymer, local wood and other eco-friendly elements – has been designed for the future as a one-off travel experience in Africa.
Following their special accolade, designers Yasmine Bennani, Solène Percie Du Serf, Nicolas Alibert and Alexandre Albert-Picquet, spoke to Hotel Designs about how the project came about, as well as what they hope the industry can learn from their research.
Hamish Kilburn: What were the major challenges of this project?
Yasmine Bennani: The major challenge was creating a project suitable for future travellers, and predicting what that would look and feel like. We had a free hand on the design but we really wanted to challenge today’s existing views on sustainability. As well, we pushed our creatives and technical limits, both on design and on software.
HK: What or who were the main influences?
Solène Percie Du Serf: Our main influence was Neri Oxman, an American scientist, architect and designer who is a leader of bioclimatic architecture. With her team at the MIT Media Lab, she works on new sustainable process for the design of the future.
HK: What brand would you believe would be most appropriate for this concept?
Nicolas Alibert: Matching with our concept, it would be great to have a business-oriented brand, in the premium sector and with a special sustainable ethos. We think that Mantis Collection answers this need, as it is anchored in the preservation of the environment. ‘An exceptional place to find yourself’ is the baseline of the brand, which is in line with our concept.
HK: Can you tell our readers a bit more about the materials you had in mind for this concept?
YB: The main material is the chitin developed by Neri Oxman, which is a large, structural polysaccharide made from chains of modified glucose and is found in the exoskeletons of insects. It is an engineering track, an experimental material nowadays to imagine tomorrow standardisation. We would love to count on the new modes of 3D printing to push for a freer architectures.
HK: Nearly one year on, would you change anything with the design?
Alexandre Albert-Picquet: We would not change the concept, still today we are proud of our design. We would however go into further detail, in the finishing touches, to make the experience completely real and adjusted to customers’ needs.
HK: Where else, geographically, can you see this concept working?
NA: Our design is very specific to Konza City, with locals resources and needs. But we can imagine our ‘break’ concept, from the city to the nature, developed in all the technopolis of tomorrow with a new local thinking.
HK: And finally, how has this ‘special accolade’ from the judges helped you in your individual journeys?
AAP: It proves that we are not doing this for nothing; our hard work is awarded and respected. It gives us the confidence and the desire to not hold back, and to always push the boundaries in our work. Also, it helps us to be recognised by the professional community, which makes it easier when we have to apply for internships and future jobs.
Main image credit: Accor Design Awards