Airport Lounge Simulates An Urban Park To Soothe Harried Flyers

With winding pathways and tree-like furnishings, Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance creates an escape from the stresses of air travel.

On the few occasions I’ve had the pleasure of sitting in a business-class airport lounge, I wasn’t struck so much by the décor (which must have been inoffensive albeit unremarkable) as much as by the amenities: free food and beverage, and more electrical outlets than you could count. Air France’s new lounge at the Paris Charles de Gaulle airport is designed for harried travelers to take notice of their surroundings, and even be lulled into a relaxing state by the park-inspired motif.

Designed by the French rising star Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance in conjunction with Brandimage, the sprawling 32,000-square-foot interior is delineated by pathways that cut across the expanse to create distinctive spaces. The paths are organized like the branches of a plant bending toward the light, and divide the room into discrete functions without the use of partitions. Other touches borrowed from nature: Side tables that sprout light fixtures with leaf-patterned shades and tree-shaped candelabras, both custom-made for Air France.

The challenge, Duchaufour-Lawrance tells Co.Design, was to create a pleasant, bright space that performs multiple functions—from dining and working to relaxing and sleeping—and communicates the Air France brand without obvious signage. Conjuring up the sensation of walking through an urban park, the designer says, "The feeling of freedom in a structured, designed envelope was the goal."