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Philippe Schiepan
The Art of Identity

001 Philippe Schiepan
  • Words Ken Baron
  • Images Stephanie Füssenich

A true renegade unafraid to follow his vision wherever it may take him, this newcomer to hospitality set out not to build a hotel, but a life.

Philippe Schiepan understands that creativity is a movable feast. A primary shaker in the Internet’s early days, he has gone on to succeed in every realm of the digital arena that he has ventured into. So the Frenchman’s sudden left turn into hospitality might come as a surprise to some. But not Schiepan. “I grew tired of digital,” he says. “I think it is a little vintage now and removed from the lives of real people. And I am a real person!” In addition to opening Le Collatéral, he now dedicates his time to producing bespoke furniture and lighting pieces, as well as creating what he calls “identity” places.

002 Le Collateral Rooftop Terrace (1)
003 Le Collateral City Guide

Ok, so what exactly is an “identity place”?

Take Le Collatéral, for example. You simply can’t imagine this hotel being in another country or town—there is just a true conversation between the building and its environment, and that’s a question of identity. For me, the hotel is like a film. You have to write it, create a set and scenes. When the workers are here, it’s like shooting the film. And then the guests are the audience.

004 Le Collateral Philippe Schiepan
005 Le Collateral Tiles Light
006 Le Collateral Exterior Window

Tell me about the conversion of the building from a medieval church into a hotel. What was the biggest challenge?

This building has actually been many things and has had many uses, from sacred to business to pleasure. The big challenge was to achieve a place that feels natural, inspiring, and comfortable for guests. If you are at peace with the identity of the structure and the rhythm of the art within, then the design is very easy. It just happens! But, of course, the hotel’s wonderful art here didn’t just happen, nor the very idea to do an art hotel.

007 Philippe Schiepan Piano

“The art creates pure emotion and, thus, memories. It’s very difficult to put words to these emotions. It’s silence and awe.”

Philippe Schiepan

How did that come about?

The main point of the Le Collatéral is the relationship between the guests and the art. So, ultimately, it’s about emotions. The art creates pure emotion and, thus, memories. It’s very difficult to put words to these emotions. It’s silence and awe. Our guests don’t say, “Oh this is a great place.” They say, “We are just happy to be here!” So their emotional reaction, not their critical assessment, is what comes through the most.

You’ve said that you are the visionary here, but not a curator. Explain the difference.

The hotel’s art comes from local, national, international artists. Most of the time we bring the artists themselves to the hotel. It’s very natural, like life. You meet people, you want to do something with them. So the relationship is very important. We are not a gallery. And we don’t want to be a gallery.

008 Le Collateral Art Installation
009 Le Collateral Philippe Schiepan

Did you also create some of the art in the hotel?

A few pieces are by me, yes, but all the works speak about Arles and the Camargue, which brings us back to identity. People truly respond to that. We had New Yorkers staying with us recently say that Le Collatéral is the best hotel they’ve ever seen. I don’t know how this is possible! It was all just natural for me to create what we did.

Do you change the art often?

No, but there are some new pieces each year.

010 Le Collateral Philippe Schiepan Working Desk
010 Le Collateral City Art Exhibition
011 Le Collateral Fridge Fruits

What determines where new works go?

Feeling, feeling, feeling! We don’t want to show off the things. There’s no specific lighting we’ve created for the art. It’s for enjoyment, not for shopping. It’s for discovery. By that I mean that I am very happy when people don’t see something on the first glance, but rather discover things little by little during their stay. Suddenly, they see somthing through a sideways glance. And then—a smile!

Do you travel a lot?

Funny you ask that. A guy who came here last year, a great traveler, told me that you can be a bird or you can be a tree. What’s fantastic about being a tree is that you stay in one place and the world comes to you. Le Collatéral is tree. And so am I!

013 Le Collateral City Houses Street View
012 Le Collateral Postcard Detail

Featured Hotels

T Le Collateral Arles France

Le Collatéral

France, Arles

Featured Hotels

T Le Collateral Arles France

Le Collatéral

France, Arles
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