Legendary Orient Express Train Is Redesigned To Be a Contemporary Art Deco Dream

Orient Express - Accor - © Maxime d'Angeac & Martin Darzacq - Bar night

Since it was first launched 140 years ago, the Orient Express has been synonymous with luxury. And thanks to Accor, that tradition will continue long into the future. In 2018, the hospitality group took possession of the Nostalgie-Istanbul-Orient-Express train cars and asked respected French architect Maxime d’Angeac to redesign the interiors. Now, the public is getting a sneak preview of d'Angeac's sumptuous design, which marries the nostalgia of the 1920s with contemporary sensibilities.

The incredible decor of the train transports us back to the golden age of travel. And during a special immersive exhibition during Contemporary Art Week in Paris, the public will be able to step aboard and see what they'll experience when the train is put back into service in 2024.

Over the past 20 years, d'Angeac has collaborated with luxury brands like Hermès and Guerlain. He brings this high-end sensibility to the project, imbuing the Orient Express with the touches of class that its name calls for. Marble, bronze, leather, and glass are just some of the materials used to provide a chic sense of comfort and function. D'Angeac also made sure to include touches that are a nod to the train's past. This includes incorporating classic Lalique motifs that were found on the original trains.

“The work is meticulous just like it was in the past,” d'Angeac shares. “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.”

The stunning bar car features Second Empire-style domes that softly light the plush green furniture. The bar is the centerpiece, with an all-glass counter making the perfect tribute to Lalique as a modern work of art that revisits the symbols of the famed glasswork brand. And while the common spaces are perfectly designed to provide a convivial atmosphere and encourage conversation, the suites are where d'Angeac really shines.

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

To add softness to the straight lines of the train, he incorporates circular shapes for balance. The partitions are covered in precious wood and a leather wall that reinterprets Suzanne Lalique's “rail” motif. The nooks are adorned with Lalique’s original “Blackbirds and grapes” panels, recovered from the original Nostalgie-Istanbul-Orient Express cars.

The sofa, which provides an incredible view of the passing landscape, is converted into a comfortable bed during the evenings. The headboard is covered with wooden embroidery with mother-of-pearl and bronze beads. It's no wonder that to execute his vision, d'Angeac has paired with some of France's top artisans.

“Created like a work of art, the future Orient Express train was born from a marvel, the Nostalgie-Istanbul-Orient-Express, entirely reinvented and equipped with outstanding facilities. From this framework, a decor emerged—one without a defined era, instead inspired by Art Deco, Empire, and contemporary styles. The train’s history has been rewritten, this time transcending trends. Nothing is superfluous—each detail has meaning. It is part engineering feat, part dream-inspiring work of art that is the epitome of French Luxury, complete with refined decor, sublimated by the savoir-faire and talent of the finest French artisans.”

The Orient Express Revelation immersive exhibit will take place in Paris from October 17 to October 21 before moving to the United States for Design Miami/ from November 30 to December 4, 2022.

In 2024, just in time for the Olympics, the newly refurbished Orient Express will be up and running.

Orient Express - Accor - © Maxime d'Angeac & Martin Darzacq - Train exterior day

Respected French architect Maxime d’Angeac redesigned the interiors.

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

He has married the nostalgia of the 1920s with contemporary design.

Orient Express - Accor - © Maxime d'Angeac & Martin Darzacq - Corridors

“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.”

Orient Express - Accor - © Maxime d'Angeac & Martin Darzacq - Bar corner

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

“The train’s history has been rewritten, this time transcending trends. Nothing is superfluous—each detail has meaning.”

Orient Express - Accor - © Maxime d'Angeac & Martin Darzacq - Suite evening

Orient Express - Accor - © Maxime d'Angeac & Martin Darzacq - Suite wall motif

Orient Express - Accor - © Maxime d'Angeac & Martin Darzacq - Suite sink

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Accor.

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Staff Editor and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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