INTERIOR DESIGN: THE ART OF DETAIL
Article from Le Groupe Maurice's magazine « L'Innovateur », June 2018 #1
Chantal de Bellefeuille has been designing the interior decor of Le Groupe Maurice’s residences since the foundation of the company in 1998. What’s the creative approach behind each of her creations? Here’s our portrait of a true pioneer in the seniors’ housing community.
For nearly 20 years, Chantal de Bellefeuille has been working closely with Luc Maurice to create interior designs for Le Groupe Maurice’s residences. It’s been a longstanding collaboration between two visionaries who share a commitment to listening to the needs of the elderly and evolving to meet these needs. Thanks to this commitment, the company’s projects bear a unique signature, with every residence designed to be a distinct space with its own identity.
Chantal, what’s the most noticeable difference between the kind of interior design you did for the Group’s first residences and what you do today?
When I first started working with Le Groupe Maurice,only three people were involved in making decisionsregarding the design of residences: Luc Maurice, François Tisseur, the company’s only employee at the time, and myself. Mr. Maurice always told me, “Chantal, what matters to me is for people to feel at home.” He wanted the residences to be more like houses. That meant no massive lobbies or large corridors like they make today, because that’s not what clients were looking for 20 years ago. This approach was continued through the first generation of Le Groupe Maurice’s residences, until the development of LES VERRIÈRES DU GOLF.
But in recent years, clients’ expectations have changed. The reasons why seniors choose to move into a residence are no longer all the same. In other words, they’re not all leaving their homes because of health problems alone. More and more seniors are staying active longer and want to enjoy life to the best of their abilities. It’s our duty to offer them a living environment that aligns with their needs and expectations.
Where do you draw your inspiration when designing a residence?
My creative approach changes from project to project. Often, the inspiration comes from the history of the place where the residence will be built. The building’s architecture also provides us with ideas.
For example, for LA CITÉ DES TOURS in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, we drew inspiration from the fact that the residence would be built on the site of a former Singer sewing machine plant that had existed on the exact same spot for a century. At ORA, located in the the Ahuntsic district, we were inspired by limestone because the site is the former location of the Miron limestone quarry. Its design is therefore more urban and characterized by shades of grey.
Why are some elements, like indoor gardens, present in only some residences but not others?
The configuration of a building can give us possibilities that would prove unrealistic in
other circumstances. I pay a lot of attention to architectural plans when planning the design of a future residence. And because Mr. Maurice knows his clientele very well and understands the local market for each project, he gives us guidelines. His ideas always influence what we create. That’s why an atrium, a walking route or an indoor garden may be present in some residences but not others.
What’s the difference between designing a residence for seniors and designing a more “standard” apartment building?
Residences must be equally practical and aesthetically pleasing. The way we look at details is different because the details make an enormous difference for our clientele. For example, all flooring should be level, non-slip and made of non-reflective material.
In common areas, it’s important to have strong lighting, as people with cataracts need four times the normal amount of light. Furniture must be spacious, stable and made of a specific kind of fabric that must look elegant while being armed with antibacterial properties. Details like this are essential to the well-being of the elderly. There’s a fine line between aesthetics and practicality. Everything is in the small details.
How do you see the future of design for seniors’ residences?
In my view, there’s been increasing demand for environmental awareness both in the construction of buildings and in the design of residences. I believe we’ll increasingly need to choose materials that have the least possible impact on the environment. The next generation of seniors will be a lot more aware of environmental issues, and they will expect the same of us. That’s why residences similar to CALÉO, a candidate for LEED Certification, will be very popular. It may be more costly to complete, but it’s extremely beneficial for everyone involved.
We want to thank Mrs. De Bellefeuille, for taking the time to explain the secrets of residence design.