Vogue Hotel, Canada

October 5, 2023

Montreal-based Sid Lee Architecture was mandated to redesign the common spaces of Montreal’s five-star Vogue Hotel, located in the heart of Golden Square Mile, following its mid-pandemic acquisition by Artifact Group. The renovation of the hotel’s lobby, lounge and restaurant areas brings a brand-new hospitality experience for Downtown Montreal.  

Speaking with darc about the project are Martin Leblanc and Jean Pelland, both Architects and Principal Partners at the architectural firm. “Despite the context, the new owners believed in the attractiveness of our beautiful city and wanted to transform the institution to offer Montreal a novel experience that is inspired by their cultural heritage, yet remains connected to its neighbourhood, in the heart of the Golden Square Mile,” says Pelland of their initial involvement in the project. “We first got involved during fall of 2021 and delivered the project during spring of 2023.” 

The new aesthetic for the hotel’s spaces is inspired by the grand hotel cultures of Asia and the Middle East. To achieve this, the design team opened up the ground floor areas, which are constructed along a classic colonnade running the length of the hotel. The food and beverage spaces are holistically integrated into the open space, complemented by high ceilings evoking a grand hall atmosphere. Lemay Michaud redesigned a floor-to-ceiling glass façade that floods the space with natural light from the street. There are a number of Turkish design elements integrated as a nod to the hotel’s new owners and also linking in the East-meets-West aesthetic. “To strengthen the ties between the hotel and its neighbourhood, we’ve relied on a seamless connection between the interior and the exterior. Strategically placing the F&B offering along the glass façade increases opportunities for people to mingle. A user-centric approach, paired with the integration of work by local artists, allowed us to create a unique experience that is as attractive to Montrealers as it is to tourists,” explains Leblanc. 

Lighting played a key role in the hotel, from the washes of natural light to the statement decorative fixtures. Pelland elaborates: “We crafted the interiors with light as our medium. By softening hard corners and embracing endless free flowing lines, light brushes over the textured surfaces like oil paint on raw canvas. By day, this effect lifts the ceiling with a distinct airiness while at night, warm light emphasises the space’s curved sensuality. In this perspective, walls also become objects of light. Whether it be from its form or from the light that it diffuses, lighting allows us to craft ambiances that evolve throughout the day. The lighting programme is part of the initial concept for every interior project on which we work. To create an ambiance, we believe lighting is as important as finishes. 

“Dynamic light fixtures highlight the textures and craftsmanship woven into the hotel’s plush interiors, with custom tubular wall sconces designed by Sid Lee Architecture illuminating every corner and curve of the space. The lounge area also features two sculptural light installations from local studio Lambert & Fils’ Sainte collection that have been designed to a sizeable scale in collaboration with Sid Lee Architecture. These installations are visible from the street; a local reference that further connects the establishment to its neighbourhood.” 

Leblanc continues: “The tubular chrome sconces are found throughout the hotel’s public spaces to link the different areas together. These spaces were designed holistically to offer guests a seamless journey through the ground floor.” 

The Sainte collection by Lambert & Fils was originally created in collaboration with Canadian designer Rachel Bussin. The collection reimagines the archetypal rectangle in coloured glass, creating a beautiful floating sculpture suspended by nylon ribbon. The brand describes them as a “collection about the forces that anchor us—a suspension light in dialogue with gravity.”  

 In each variation of the Sainte design, an aluminium box sits inside transparent glass, casting light up or down depending on the desired mood. The form can suspend from any angle and height, and in multiples.  

Speaking of how the decorative lighting works alongside the architectural fixtures, Pelland says: “They both work together to highlight the texture and colour of the meticulously selected materiality and the curls and curves found throughout the public spaces. 

“We are used to working with creative collaborators and artists, but the lighting design of the Vogue Hotel was done in-house. That said, we did collaborate with Lambert & Fils Studio, which we also have done for several other projects. Namely, the Sid Lee Biosquare and Hiatus at Place Ville Marie. Their technical expertise and extensive lighting knowledge are extremely beneficial when it comes to custom designing decorative pieces for a project. Moreover, working with a local studio is a great way to keep an establishment linked to its community and create an experience that is as interesting for locals as it is for tourists.” 

The outcome of the project was deemed a successful one, despite some of the challenges the team had to face during the Covid-19 pandemic.  

“The pandemic created breaks in supply chains which made it difficult to source materials, so we had to come up with creative solutions to find finishes that matched our vision and the client’s desires,” says Leblanc.  

“The final design is strikingly close to the initial vision. Looking at the renderings and photographs side by side, we are quite proud to have delivered this level of quality with a strong attention to detail despite the pandemic-related challenges we have encountered in the process.” 

Pelland adds: “Sid Lee Architecture works at various scales, from urban design to architecture to interior design but always with a user-centric approach. The Vogue Hotel is no exception. That said, the renewed establishment brings Montreal a novel luxury hospitality experience, one that is inspired by the grand hotel cultures of Asia and the Middle East as a nod to the heritage of the new owners.”