Interiors unveiled for future Orient Express

23 Oct 2022 by Hannah Brandler
© Maxime d'Angeac & Martin Darzacq for Orient Express, Accor - Bar night

Business Traveller reported on the return of the Orient Express, scheduled for 2024, earlier this year.

Renderings of the interior design have now been unveiled as part of Contemporary Art Week in Paris.

A set of 17 carriages from the Nostalgie-Istanbul-Orient-Express incarnation of the train, dating from the 1920s and 1930s, are being restored by architect Maxime d’Angeac with support from hotel group Accor and Orient Express.

D’Angeac’s design is inspired by the 1920s yet “created with the codes of contemporary luxury”.

The bar car (main image) features various green hues and marble-covered tables beneath “Second Empire-style” lamps supported by four bronze columns. The bar itself has an all-glass counter, with a modern work of art that pays homage to the Lalique brand. Each table has both a call button for Champagne and one to call staff, while a clock will ring out the time for cocktails and dinner.

© Maxime d'Angeac & Martin Darzacq for Orient Express, Accor - Dining car

Meanwhile, the dining room features a reinterpretation of Suzanne Lalique’s ‘rail’ motif on the partitions. Tables feature lamps with shades that mimic the original models, and the back of the dining car features a glass wall which looks into the kitchen, allowing guests to get a glimpse of the action.

The train’s corridors are characterised by vaulted ceilings, “flower” lamps signed by Lalique and a graphic carpet, while large windows, adorned with embroidered curtains, provide views of the landscapes.

Suites are arranged in two configurations, for day and night. During the day, they feature a sofa and settee, while the evening includes a 2 x 1.40 metre bed.

To “counter the strict lines and designs of the train”, D’Angeac has introduced a new circular shape as well as mirrors to play with perspectives.

Further features include headboards covered with wooden embroidery with mother-of-pearl and bronze beads, and nooks adorned with Lalique’s original ‘blackbirds and grapes’ panels, recovered from the original Nostalgie-Istanbul-Orient Express cars.

A bathroom with sliding doors, meanwhile, is clad in marble.

© Maxime d'Angeac & Martin Darzacq for Orient Express, Accor - Suite day

D’Angeac commented:

“It all began with drawings, sketches and models made by hand. The work is meticulous just like it was in the past. By slipping into the shoes of its creators, from René Prou to Suzanne Lalique, I tried to reinterpret the history of this legendary train, not only with nostalgia, but with a desire to extend its history, to transport us to another place. As if it was all a dream.”

Sébastien Bazin, chairman and CEO of Accor, added:

“We are proud, today, to reveal the first images of the future Orient Express train. A story inspired by a dream, a timeless train, the object of all fantasies and which becomes reality. Maxime d’Angeac’s design awakens the myth with the revelation of its luxury, modernity, and French elegance…

“The Orient Express will shine again, proud of its 140 years of history and looking to the future. The legend continues.”

© Maxime d'Angeac & Martin Darzacq for Orient Express, Accor - Suite night

The designs will also be showcased at Design Miami from November 30 until December 4.

The 17 Nostalgie-Istanbul-Orient-Express cars were inaugurated in the early 1980s by Swiss tour operator and businessman Albert Glatt, and ran between Zurich and Istanbul. Accor says that the train also made “the longest journey ever” between Paris and Tokyo in 1988 under the name of Extrême-Orient-Express but then disappeared.

In 2015 researcher Arthur Mettetal conducted a worldwide inventory of the Orient Express for the SNCF, and discovered the carriages in Poland.

The discovery was followed by two years of negotiations between Orient Express and the owner of the Nostalgie-Istanbul-Orient-Express, and the cars were brought to France in 2018.

The service will include 12 sleeping cars, one restaurant, three lounges and one van. Accor has said that it is not yet releasing itineraries for the service, but it has been reported that the train will run between Istanbul and Paris.

The Orient Express launched in 1883 and ran services until 2009, when it stopped operations. Accor acquired a 50 per cent stake in the Orient Express name in 2017, which was formerly fully-owned by the SNCF Group.

Note that this is separate to the Venice-Simplon-Orient-Express brand which is owned by Belmond.

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