Nature reigns in the restored Château de Vignée, a high-end boutique hotel deeply rooted the Belgian Ardennes. But not in a way you might expect. Belgian design studio WeWantMore brought the ancient estate’s wilful surroundings inside in a poetic, yet novel way. Yes, the materials, marbles, lighting and colours are Ardennes inspired, but witty taxidermy art pieces and a stream of seasonal textures as part of an evolutive branding add a sense of humour and wonder to the guest experience. The studio’s interior and brand design has transformed Château de Vignée into a lush retreat sourced by its natural surroundings and hunting heritage.
Intrigued by Château de Vignée’s century-long link with hunting, WeWantMore found its initial inspiration in the dramatic 18th century ‘nature morte’ paintings portraying the art of hunting in a claire-obscure manner. The idea naturally evolved into a design concept drawing from the sensorial experience of a hunter exploring the Ardennes.
Our design process ultimately started off from a feeling that we aimed to capture in the design. We imagined how it must feel for a hunter to wander the woods at 5 o’clock in the morning. The textures, the sounds, the first sunlight shimmering through the leaf canopy. A recognizable experience for hotel guests. At the same time, we respected the building and site and searched for the right balance between heritage and marvel. We wanted to make it genuinely fun for guests to be there.Ruud Belmans, Creative Director Spatial Design WeWantMore
Nestled alongside the river Lesse, the boutique hotel includes 24 bespoke rooms, a bar and lounge area, a Gault & Millau listed restaurant, a private dining, two event venues and a spa. Entering the main chateau building immediately sets the tone. A seasonal faux flower installation descends from the sky in the lobby. Rays of sunlight seem to pierce through the greenery. In the bar section, a custom designed bas-relief in the backbar catches the eye. The hunting scene is carved out of Ardennes sourced Blue Stone. WeWantMore opted for native marbles and natural stones like Rouge Belge and Gris d’Ardenne throughout the entire project to add to the main design concept. The tailor-made terrazzo flooring in the lobby is entirely composed out of marble fragments of the former hotel rooms. The hunter’s journey continues in the lounge, where the custom designed lighting branches out across the ceiling conjuring the same early morning, gloomy forest atmosphere. The interior design of the rooms echoes the fluid beauty of the Ardennes region. Expressive and flamboyant on occasion, but equally pure and tranquil at other points in time.
To appeal to both the modern-day traveler with high-end design needs as the more conventional existing clientele of the estate, the Antwerp based design studio interpreted classic hunting and nature elements in a novel way. In the lounge, traditional taxidermy pieces made room for morbid, yet humoristic art objects created by Dutch design duo Les Deux Garçons. Beware of the silverware in the private dining. The magpie’s fascination for all things shiny resulted in an unusual wall unit. In Arden, the hotel’s restaurant, a couple of beavers are undisturbedly feasting on the wood of the curiosity closet. The kitchen is run by Kwinten Boelen, Gault & Millau debutant and vegetable devotee. He serves up a terroir driven cuisine partly plucked from the chateau’s greenhouse and vegetable garden. Arden pairs its dishes with an extensive selection of wines kept in the underground, circular wine cellar below the chateau’s courtyard.
The visual identity draws from the same hunting narrative, but focusses on the signature beauty of the Ardennes from up close. The graphical and textual elements are reduced to a bare minimum allowing for nature to reign in the close-up, detailed photography of elements like moss and fungi. But every season trees grow, rivers swell and dry out, animals arrive and migrate, … and with them the textures, graphical patterns and colour palette evolve. So WeWantMore created an evolutive branding following nature’s rhythm. It changes every season to align with the guest experience.
✅ free Wi-Fi • size matters: 24 rooms & suites (20-46m2) (215-495 sq ft) ✅ free on-site parking • architecture & interior design: WeWantMore (Antwerp) • pets allowed on request • 24-hour front desk