The Steam Dream collection of ‘travel objects’ is a range that the well-heeled train enthusiast and the glam traveller can enjoy.
Author Agatha Christie may have set a murder mystery on the Orient Express, but, instead of detracting from the luxury train’s charisma, her tale that wove in wealth and stealth, the Occident and the Orient, anthropology, and biology, caught the imagination of several generations like few advertisements could ever aspire to. It catapulted the epic journey between Paris with Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul) into a once-in-a-lifetime bucket-list must-do. You may be several decades too late to travel on the original Orient Express train as it was discontinued in 1977 (although a private one still does European itineraries now), but there are other ways to feel connected with this historic train even today.
You could check in to an Orient Express hotel in the future. Or hire one of the restored carriages from the 1920s for a private do someday. But although these are on the anvil, even more accessible in the here and now, is the opportunity to feast your eyes on their exclusive line of merchandise, aptly called ‘Steam Dream – A Collection of Travel Objects’. Apparently created after studying the habits and mannerisms of travellers on the world’s most famous train, this collection of cultural items, fashion essentials and pieces of art, craftsmanship, and design “offers free spirits and dreamers the possibility to take a part of the legend home with them”.
“With this collection of travel accessories, Orient Express is launching an original project by bringing together 18 houses and designers, each with a unique savoir-faire, and singular talents, some of whom are contemporaries of the Orient Express legend. From their vivid imaginations, a collection of exclusive and daring limited-edition objects has been created,” explains Guillaume de Saint Lager, Vice President, Orient Express.
The group has carefully chosen the top-of-the-line names to collaborate with for this debut collection that spans a variety of activities encompassed by travel. While the form of everything in the collection is reminiscent of the train, the function is also travel-related, making each item doubly valuable. For example, the Atelier Philippe Allemand marquetry workshop, which is busy with the restoration of the legendary cars of the Orient Express, has contributed to this collection with a series of three trays evoking the materials and essence of the interior of a train. Namely brass handles, and dappled mahogany, Macassar ebony, and balsam wood.
The pièce de résistance though, is the elegant Lounge-trunk by Au Départ. The brand, which was making trunks 50 years before the Orient Express made its debut in 1883, incorporates many alluring goodies from all the other design houses into this drool-worthy design that’s priced at a whopping 115000 €.
Understandably, it’s a limited-edition range of just 10 salon trunks. Stunning on the outside, monogrammed and in that unmistakeable Orient Express midnight blue, the champagne interiors are worth an ooh as well. There’s a Beogram 4000c vinyl turntable from the 1970s, signed by designer Jacob Jensen and expertly restored by Bang & Olufsen, coupled with a Beosound Level speaker.
Two Hennessy Paradis decanters and exquisite glassware to go with the classic cognac hint at a cosy evening in a classic carriage as the snow piles up in the Alps outside. Au Départ has also included a travel-sized candle case with a set of three Trudon candles and a candle snuffer to make your nights away from home especially serene. Now that you have your Kindle, travelling with a book collection, even if as fine as the one they have curated from Assouline, Albin Michel, Louis Vuitton, and Textuel, maybe a bit much. But these are certainly books you’d enjoy lounging around with, in the comfort of your home, for some design and travel immersion that evokes the legend of the Orient Express.
To experience the collection
The best place to see the entire range in its element would be at the special space created for it on the ground floor of Samaritaine, one of Paris’s most iconic addresses, fresh from a major refurbishment. “Samaritaine, a place where different eras and customs collide, is more than an address. It is a signature of Parisian architecture. For Orient Express, I created a showcase dedicated to travel, dreams, and the art of being. A space without pastiche, inspired by the new codes of Orient Express’ signature, where the strength of the volumes resonate with the heritage and allure of the trains,” says architect and designer Hugo Toro, the man behind the compass-like showcase of the Steam Dream collection. The 120 square metre space, with windows overlooking the Pont-Neuf, takes visitors on a timeless journey.
To wear on your sleeve
Think a stylish umbrella with a maple wood handle and cotton canvas shade in the Orient Express hues from sixth-generation Italian fashion house Francesco Maglia. And, if you choose one of the 20 limited-edition sunglasses from Maison Bonnet, named for the stations on the erstwhile train’s route, you can actually visit their workshop boutique to have the frames adjusted and engraved with your name!
To pack into your suitcase
There’s stuff you can use while on your next trip. Like the leather-covered notebooks, writing folder, and an old-world pencil case from English stationery house Smythson, which will inspire you to write long letters home as people often did on long train journeys, instead of sending the decidedly impersonal texts and voice notes of today. Innovative luggage tags by artist Victor Caden, who brings Paris and Istanbul to life through his creations. And then there are travel games – Backgammon and Mahjong – in velvet and leather trunks, crafted by gaming couturier Hector Saxe.
To enjoy at home
You can also adorn your home with memories inspired by the momentous train journey. There’s Limoges porcelain from Bernardaud inspired by the shapes of the locomotives, and made-to-measure glassware from Venice by Casarialto, decorated with Art Deco curves and hand-painted in Murano in amber and midnight blue. Luxury bedding maker Dumas Paris, a certified ‘French Living Heritage Company’, offers a line of beautiful sleep products that include, luxurious pillows and comforters filled with natural duck or goose down, and even a duck down mattress, while Epéda, another French institution, has designed a velvet mattress in midnight blue for deep comfort a la the Orient Express cabins. Portuguese house Circu and its team of talented designers have gone so far as to create a unique ‘sleeping car’ for children, with all the creature comforts and the Orient Express logo shining like the stars on a midnight blue background!
The candles in the collection have been crafted by Trudon, master candlemaker since 1643, and famous perfumer Thierry Wasser. Ensconced in glasses that are of the purest Italian glass, tinted with Orient Express’s signature midnight blue, covered in hand-applied gold leaf, and adorned with a 24-carat gold screen-printed coat of arms, they make for an impressive gift of generosity or self-indulgence.
Perfumer Thierry Wasser says of the fragrance, “Orient Express is a fantasy. The scent I have imagined through the candles is the expression of my own fantasy. A dreamy journey aboard the Orient Express, imbued with the cultures explored along the way, with the dreams of the passengers looking out at the landscapes passing by their windows, and expressed through leathery, woody, floral notes and oriental spices.”
Waft away into that daydream of your dream train ride with all these collectibles from Orient Express. In this case, the journey is definitely as exciting as the destination.