Design Centre Stories

A New Golden Age of Travel

Hospitality group Belmond has a new category of cabin for the legendary Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, ushering in a new definition of luxury rail travel. The suites, designed by Wimberly Interiors with fabrics by Rubelli, are a wonderful example of how to seamlessly combine heritage skills with 21st-century demands: the brief included being able to easily transform the spaces from day to night, with a daytime lounging area that converts to either double or twin beds by night (pictured below).

Two original carriages have been restored by expert craftsmen and designers, including specialists in marquetry, glassmaking and mosaics alongside Rubelli’s expertise in textiles. The suites are upholstered in jacquards that draw inspiration from the journey’s changing scenery: lush green for La Campagne, autumnal views for La Foret, snow-capped mountains for Les Montagnes and the reflection of the moonlight for Le Lac.

There were some very 21st-century demands that needed to be considered alongside any heritage setting. Rachel Johnson, managing principal of Wimberly Interiors, says that Rubelli “met the level of luxury required for each of the suites,” but her reasons for working with the esteemed Italian design house also included its ability to work to a tight schedule while ensuring that the resulting Trevira fabrics met fire standards. That may seem prosaic, but these are hugely important factors in commercial interiors, just as vital as the skills that go into their making or the beauty of the finished work.

“The level of craftsmanship across the entire project is outstanding,” continues Johnson. “To work with people who are so exceptional in their field ensures every detail of the design is celebrated and meets the incredibly high standards expected at this level of luxury travel.”

Rubelli, Ground Floor, Design Centre East