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The Camélia restaurant in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Paris is both sparklingly new and elegantly timeless. Possibly because of our Mid-Century Modernist and Scandinavian leanings, we think this space is exquisite.
It was designed by Paris-based Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku of Jouin Manku Studio.
The camellia motif relates directly to the camellia garden in which the restaurant is located. We love the smooth surfaces, the white colour, the subtle feel of being inside a gigantic bloom. The furnishings echo the same smooth petal shape and remind us of the Finnish master, Alvar Aalto, and his timeless white buildings and furniture. - Tuija Seipell
Retail interiors by Chikara Ohno of Tokyo-based architecture and interior firm Sinato are often characterized by elegant simplicity and smart use of light. A great example of this is organic store and restaurant, +green. It is located on the ground floor of a basic concrete-frame apartment building in a residential section of Tokyo`s Jiyu Street, close to one of the city’s largest parks, Komazawa.
The 111.5 square meter (1,200 sq.ft) space is exceptionally high (about 4.4 meters or 14.4 feet) and much of it is underground but customers — and light – can move freely between the three levels.
The take-out, popular by park picnickers, is on the ground floor. In +green, Ohno has used clever partitioning, neutral materials and subdued colours to create a space that appears both intimate and large, and despite its underground location, has a refreshing, airy feel. - Tuija Seipell.
Unexpected details make Griffins Steakhouse Extraordinaire more interesting than your typical American steakhouse. That, plus the fact that it is located in Stockholm, in the brand new Waterfront Building in the downtown area between the City Hall and the Central Train Station.
The concept and execution of this restaurant – with its homey atmosphere spiced up by hints of travel, science and glamour -- was designed by Stylt. The restaurant’s imaginary host couple, the Griffins, have a penchant for mysticism and alchemy that is reflected in the eclectic interior.
Led by creative director Erik Nissen Johansen, the Gothenburg-based Stylt has recently designed several other eateries in Stockholm including Marion's Gastro Diner and the Orangeriet. - Tuija Seipell.
KAA is a magnificent example of beautiful use of space. A surprising, lush, open-air atmosphere awaits behind a windowless white stucco facade. The main restaurant is a narrow and long nearly 800 square-meter, high-ceilinged space. A massive green wall with more than 7,000 live plants, a retractable roof over a section of the space, a staircase leading to a mezzanine-level lounge, and a dividing wall behind the bar, all add to the magnificent feeling of airy relaxation.
Casas has indeed reached his goal of creating an urban oasis for busy paulistas, as KAA has the distinct feel of a luxurious hotel lounge, minus the hotel.
American institute of Architecture Los Angeles chapter recently gave KAA one of its Restaurant Design awards. The 43-year-old Arthur Casas has already managed to create a successful multi-disciplinary practice that is involved in residential, commercial, corporate, retail and hospitality projects, interior design, plus product and furniture design. Expect to see his name much more frequently. - Tuija Seipell.
Germain is a Parisian restaurant in a newly revitalized space at 25-27 rue de Buci in the 6th Arrondissement. The prolific, Iranian–born and Paris-based architect, India Mahdavi, created the interior architecture of the three-storey, funky establishment.
The most striking feature of the space is a massive yellow sculpture of a woman in an overcoat and high heels. Its lower half stands on the café’s first floor while the upper body and head break through the ceiling to the upper level VIP lounge area. The sculpture is one of three that the multi-disciplinary, Paris-based artist, Xavier Veilhan, made of his friend Sophie for an exhibition at the Emmanuel Perrotin Gallery (Miami) in 2006.
When Thierry Costes, scion of the Parisian hospitality family that owns Germain, asked Veilhan to contribute to Germain, Veilhan studied the multi-storey location and envisioned the drama that would be created if one of his Sophies “grew” in it, almost as if it were a feature that pre-existed the restaurant.
The Costes family is no stranger to using the talent and drawing power of well-known designers and artists in its hotels, restaurants and cafés. The fact that the 36-year-old Veilhan’s sculptural installation work has a prominent presence currently at Versailles cannot but help attract customers and the curious to the left-bank location of Germain. - Tuija Seipell
So many top-notch things have come together in Barbecoa, one of London’s newest restaurants, that it would be a quite the scandal if it did not succeed.
Just consider the ingredients of this barbecue haven: First take Britain’s biggest food export, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver. Combine him with the man who knows everything about barbecue, French-trained American chef Adam Perry. (Don’t forget both own and operate several restaurants already.)
Mix in the best meat preparation tools from around the world; the Japanese robata grills, fire pits, Texan smoker and tandoor ovens. Add one in-house butcher shop that provides every part of animal — from meats to game to poultry — not just to the restaurant but for the public to buy.
Wrap this all in a stylishly bold Tom Dixon interior by his Design Research Studio and sprinkle lightly with a fantastic view of the adjacent St. Paul’s Cathedral. If, in addition, the prices, service and food quality meet or exceed expectations, we’d have to say this is a sure winner. - Bill Tikos
French architect Odile Decq (born 1955) and her late partner, architect and doctor Benoit Cornette (1953-1998) have never feared bold, big, challenging projects.
This year, Decq who continues to lead Odile DECQ Benoit CORNETTE:Architectes Urbanistes in Paris, completed a task that has apparently eluded designers and architects since 1875.
She designed the spectacular L'Opéra Restaurant, located in one of the most famous buildings in opera, the 1,600-seat L'Opéra Garnier, on Place de l'Opéra in the 2nd arrondissement of Paris.
The 6 million Euro (about $8.2 million US), three-year-long project was completed this summer. The most significant features of the restaurant are the magnificent glass curtain walls that protect the original stone; the curved structures that define the new space and also create the seating areas and even some of the seating; and the simple use of white and red. The result is both minimal and grandiose, contemporary and historic. From some angles, the curvy structures create a cave-like view, perhaps a reference to the Phantom’s subterranean world.
The building, originally designed by architect Charles Garnier in Baroque Revival style, was inaugurated in 1875. Over the years, it has been known as Opéra de Paris, L'Opéra Garnier, Paris Opéra and L'Opéra Populaire. Its architecture set a new style for opera buildings, and for the next several decades opera houses around the world were built to resemble it.
The building’s fame has also been boosted because it is the setting of Gaston Leroux’s gothic novel, Phantom of the Opera (Le Fantôme de l'Opéra, 1911) and the popular musical ,by Andrew Lloyd Webber (1986). - Tuija Seipell
Pics by Roland Halbe
If decidedly unfashionable cuckoo clocks, Tyrolean kitsch and yodeling form your memories of Austria, update your impressions next time you are in Innsbruck. It is hard to not look up in Innsbruck, the provincial capital of Tyrol, with the Nordkette Mountains hulking all around. But focus a bit lower and zero in on the new Town Hall. The Dominique Perrault-designed building is on the Old Town’s (Altstadt) main artery, the 17th century Maria-Theresien Strasse.
Go up to the rooftop Lichtblick Cafe (also by Perrault) and marvel at the magnificent 360-degree views. The place is fashionable, sleek and definitely void of Alpen-kitsch. The walls are floor-to-ceiling glass and the roof is a translucent membrane allowing daylight through. At night, the entire cafe looks like a large glowing lighting fixture in the sky.
The 54-year-old Perrault is highly regarded for his ability to allow landscapes to be transformed but not interfered by his buildings. His notable upcoming projects include the EWHA Women’s University in Seoul, Korea (2008), the new Mariinski Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia (2009), and the Olympic Tennis Centre in Madrid, Spain (2009). By Tuija Seipell.
Tobias Rehberger won the best artist Golden Lion this summer at the 53rd International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale. This year’s Exhibition is titled Making Worlds (Fare Mondi).Rehberger won the prize for the cafeteria of the Palazzo delle Exposizioni della Biennale, formerly known as the Italian Pavilion. The cafeteria is open to the public at least till the end of the Biennale Art Exhibition (November 22).
Rehberger calls his cafeteria “Was du liebst, bringt dich auch zum Weinen” (Whatever you love, will bring you to wines). It is a crazy, retro-inspired space, juxtaposed with a jumble of forms and colours with black and white as the combining theme. He collaborated with the Finnish furniture house Artek that created custom furniture for the space.
The Art Exhibition is part of the venerable Venice Biennale, established in 1895. The Biennale promotes new artistic trends and organizes events, including the International Film Festival, the International Art Exhibition, the International Architecture Exhibition, the Festival of Contemporary Music, the Theatre Festival and the Festival of Contemporary Dance. - Tuija Seipell
The new D’Espresso on Madison Avenue (at 42nd) in New York has received more media attention than is generally awarded to a tiny coffee shop in this world of millions of new coffee shops.
The reason for the attention is the fun design by the Manhattan-based nemaworkshop, a team of designers and architects that has created numerous cool retail and hospitality concepts. Founder Anurag Nema took the idea of a coffee shop that looks like a library – giving a nod to the nearby New York Public Library’s Bryant park branch – and turned it on its side. The walls are not lined with books but the floors and ceiling are. Except that it is all an illusion, a life-size image of books printed on custom tiles. Pendant lighting does not hang from the ceiling; it sticks out from the walls.
The tiny coffee bar of 420 square feet (39 square meters) is the second for owner Eugene Kagansky (the first one is on the Lower East Side) who plans to create an entire empire of coffee shops. Apparently, the next one will be completely upside down. - Tuija Seipell
Dining in the sky is so last decade, but how about dining under water? And if submarine supper is your thing, wouldn’t you want to experience it in one of the world’s top diving destinations, the Maldives?
Anantara Kihavah Villas unique underwater restaurant, Sea, is part of a quartet of culinary experiences aptly named Sea, Fire, Salt and Sky — each with its distinctive cuisine, atmosphere and location.
Sea offers Mediterranean buffet lunches and a degustation dinner with stunning views of the sea life in the channel. Sea is also a wine cellar stocked with 250 labels representing 14 countries, and serving more than 20 labels by the glass.
The luxury resort is located on Kihavah Huravalhi Island in the Maldives, half an hour by seaplane from the Male International Airport. Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas is a group of 15 luxury properties in Thailand, the Maldives, Bali and the United Arab Emirates with near-future openings in Vietnam, China, Bali, Thailand and Abu Dhabi. - Bill Tikos
It is not easy to impress in Paris. To create a restaurant, bar, hotel or retail establishment that stands out, surprises the locals and the jetsetting international visitors, and creates positive buzz that lasts more than a night, is a serious challenge.
The collective talents and star power of the team behind Le Restaurant Matignon are significant enough to suggest that a new, permanent player may have arrived on the scene.
Opened two months ago, at 3 Avenue Matignon, just a few steps off Champs‐Elysées, Matignon promotes itself as “restaurant and playground” but in plain terms it is a restaurant, bar and lounge that has already hosted several lavish private parties for high-end brands and media.
Matignon was founded by Paris-born international promoter and artistic director Cyril Péret (Paglinghi) and Gilbert Costes, one of the Parisian Costes hospitality triumvirate (brothers Jean-Louis and Gilbert and Gilbert’s son, Thierry) that seems to have its hands in half the new restaurant and cafe concepts in Paris.
Péret has entertained and cooperated with celebrities throughout his career in Miami and Paris, while the Costes brothers are no strangers either to working with celebrities and top-level designers and architects.
To create the physical environment, Costes and Péret retained the formidable and prolific French architect and designer Jacques Garcia, whose rich and luxurious signature touch can be witnessed in hotels and restaurants around the globe. Garcia’s work includes Hôtel Métropole in Monte Carlo, the Spice Market restaurant in New York, Hôtel Costes in Paris and dozens of others around the world owned by sultans and sheiks, royalty and even Garcia himself (Château du Champ-de-Bataille).
Several years ago, Garcia was quoted as saying that 50 million people ate at his restaurants and five million people slept at his hotels. These numbers have only grown since.
At Matignon, Garcia has created a luxurious mix of eclectic and opulent, subdued and bold, elegant and funky. Matignon has no online presence at this time, so the only way to get to know it is to go in person. Tuija Seipell
Matignon is located at 3, Avenue Matignon 75008 Paris, telephone : 01 42 89 64 72.
Rosa’s, a modern Thai restaurant in Soho in London’s West End, is the second Rosa’s for managing partners Saiphin and Alex Moore. The success of their first, in Spitalfields in the East End, spurred them to open a three-month “tester,” a pop-up restaurant called Noodles in the Soho space. Its success, in turn, gave birth to a full-blown Rosa’s with its bright-red exterior and wood-paneled interior.
Designed by London-based Gundry & Ducker Rosa’s is an elegant nod to the temporary plywood-booth air of Noodles, the red-light heritage of Soho, and the warm and homey style of the Thai food. Its design features match those of the Spitalfields Rosa’s, also by Gundry & Ducker.
The main feature in the Soho Rosa’s street-level space is the modified oak ogee-curved mouldings. They form coat hooks, lamps and the 'pie crust' edge of the tables. The ceiling is made of gloss pink panels in a brick pattern, set behind a deep frame. In the basement, the same themes prevail but in black gloss and grey and reclaimed teak.
Gundry & Ducker was founded by Tyeth Gundry and Christian Ducker in 2007, both former employees of Nigel Coates. With backgrounds in architecture, furniture and exhibit design, Gundry and Drucker have completed several award-winning hospitality and residential projects. - Tuija Seipell
In Amsterdam's restaurant scene, the names of Bert van der Leden, Douwe Werkman and Rob Wagemans pop up constantly, and usually all together. Werkman and van der Leden wield their influence through IQ Creative, a restaurant and hospitality conglomerate that is best known for the Supperclubs around the world, but also operates Witteveen, Nomads, Vyne, Envy and Nevy in Amsterdam.
For interior, architectural and conceptual creative output, they turn most often to Concrete of Amsterdam, a 25-member company founded in 1997 by the 37-year-old Wagemans. Concrete is a kit of three companies: Concrete Architectural Associates (architecture, design concepts), Concrete Reinforced (urban design) and Models+Monsters (scale models).
The prolific gentlemen's latest cooperation is Mazzo. It is a cool reincarnation of a notorious disco in a strange and ugly building on Rozengracht. The building may be odd but not that unusual in Amsterdam. Its spaces of varying heights and widths could have posed a problem, but for Concrete, they offered an opportunity to create an inviting yet industrial-feeling atmosphere and a place that is flexible without seeming temporary.
Mismatched chairs, exposed brick walls, rough wooden shelving, sepia-toned images and GUBI and MOOOI lighting manage to give the mismatched spaces a cozy sense of an impromptu meeting place where mums could meet for lunch and moguls could convene for an important deal. - Bill Tikos
Located at Imerovigli on the northwest coast of the Cyclades island of Santorini, Greece, Grace Santorini is earning a reputation among Santorini's luxury boutique hotels as THE place to dine.
The surroundings are, of course, divine with the azure ocean, the white-washed buildings, the dark and barren cliffside creating a Greek paradise. Views over the Caldera Basin and Skaros Rock surround the hotel.
The year-old alfresco show kitchen is presided over by chef Sprios Agious who's gained new influences during his work over the winter with Michel Roux Junior of Le Gavroche, London, and Jonathan Cartwright of the White Barn Inn, in Maine, USA.
The kitchen serves fresh and innovative Mediterranean cuisine that everyone is talking about including grilled calamari on summer-green ragout and grilled Aegean Sea octopus and balsamic glazed monkfish. Guests can dine alfresco on the moonlit terraces, by the infinity pool or in the dining room or lounge inside.
Grace Santorini is part of the Grace Hotels Group. We only feature hotels we have personally experienced - and we have not stayed at Grace Santorini - so we are not sure what the rest of the hotel is like. The reputation of the food has come to our attention from several sources.
We have experienced Ikeas on Santorini and highly recommend it. - Bill Tikos
We love the deliciously pastelly mood and the interplay of light and shadow in the new Mordisco restaurant in Barcelona’s Eixample district. Designed by Sandra Tarruella Interioristas, the former family residence now exudes a Scandinavian modern clarity, yet preserves some of the touches, such as the massive staircase and the ceiling cornices, from the high-ceilinged grand home.
The patio is now covered and functions like a sun room or greenhouse, bringing the greenery close to the diners. At the entrance, a little grocery area offers the guests fresh vegetables and produce and many other fine ingredients used in the restaurant’s kitchen.
Mordisco is part of the Grupo Tragaluz hospitality family empire founded in 1987 by mother and son Rosa Maria Esteva and Tomas Tarruella. Tragaluz began with the fist Mordisco restaurant and has since expanded to include several restaurant concepts and the boutique hotel OMM. - Tuija Seipell
Twister is a new restaurant concept proposed for a space in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine. The design team, Sergey Makhno and Vasily Butenko also of Kiev, work on residential and commercial interiors and architecture but we are particularly fascinated by their furniture and their sculptural approach to interiors. We wrote about one of their office projects a while ago.
In Twister, the duo has captured the upward pull of a tornado in the main two-storey dining area with furnishings that seem to hover above the floor on their super-slim legs, with light fixtures resembling rain drops, and with massive sculptural columns that are in fact crow's-nest balconies.
The bar area is yet another iteration of a bird’s nest with walls covered with thatched sticks and with cushy seats resembling pods or cones. The warm-toned color palette conveys a sense of calm throughout, in spite of the avian connotations and air-borne allusions. - Tuija Seipell.
It seems we really like the work of Sydney's Dreamtime Australia Design as this is the third time we featured their work.
Dreamtime director Michael McCann and team are the designers of the Concrete Blonde restaurant recently launched in Potts Point at Kings Cross in Sydney.
Earlier, we've covered their Victor Churchill butcher and the Sydney Seafood School.
Concrete Blonde is a 100-seat restaurant presided over by chef Patrick Dang who has brought the many nuances of his international experience to the stylish tables of Concrete Blonde.
We love the stunning fireplace, the retro comic-book mural and the clever metal "tin-can" wall slots for firewood. The strong focus on metal evokes thoughts of industrial kitchens and huge dining halls, yet the atmosphere manages also to exude inviting warmth.
As it should be, the best feature of Concrete Blonde is the food. Our recent visit had us face the formidable problem of deciding what to eat. There are many options, plus the menu changes - the chefs here are capable of experimenting and improvising while focusing on freshness, local produce, Berkshire Pork, Murrylands Farm lamb.
We had the prawns popped with popcorn, then Himasa kingfish (coffee-cured with cranberry & burnt-scallion vinaigrette, pickled mustard seeds) and for the main event, we had the Meredith duck (passion fruit-glazed root vegetables with duck ravioli in pain d'épices consommé).
Being big fans of duck, we had high expectations and they were exceeded. By now we were stuffed, yet had to indulge in dessert, which turned out to be the best part of the already amazing dinner. The chocolate dessert with its pistachio wafers and olive oil jam was phenomenal in its perfect consistency, sweetness, and rich chocolate flavour. And don't get us started on the lychee and rosewater martinis, one of the many choices on the extensive martini menu. We will be going back for more. - Mark Cunial
33 Bayswater Rd, Potts Point, NSW 2000
Phone: 02 9380 8307
(Next to Hugo's Lounge)
Restaurant Farma Kreaton (Meat Farm in Greek)is the recently opened addition to the well publicized Fabrica Kreaton restaurant located in the center of the city of Komotini, (Adrianoupoleos 4) in northeastern Greece.
The architecture and interior design of both spaces are by Minas Kosmidis (Μηνάς Κοσμίδης) with offices in Thessaloniki and Komotini.
In the case of Farma Kreaton, graphic designer Yiannis Tokalatsidis created the minimalist, hand-drawn graphics and cut-outs of cows, chickens and the scenery of the countryside that set the whimsical barn-yard chic tone to the entire space.
The 270 square-meter (almost 3,000 square- feet), 150 seat new restaurant is in essence an additional open-concept eating area to the existing Fabrica Kreaton that, in turn, is themed around a Greek butcher shop. Both are housed in a renovated 1950s farm house with a large yard.
In Farma Kreaton, in addition to the graphic components, we were attracted to the lovely, white-painted wood floors and the overall feel of a temporary barn-raising supper.
The simple plank tables, the mismatched, unpretentious chairs, the humble potted plants and herbs on the tables, all exude a feel of a space dedicated — just for the moment — to sumptuous eating and enjoyment of good company.
The hay bales, pick forks, watering cans and cut-out animals remind the diners of the work done and to-be done on the farm, the dinner beings just a moment of celebration — perhaps of a good hay harvest or a successful calving.
In short, Minas Kosmidis and his team have managed to create a believable semblance of a working farm without going overboard and ending up with a contrived, pretentious “concept” instead.
The food at Farma Kreaton is typical Greek meat-based plates, and the diners are predominantly locals. Tuija Seipell.
Niche “bars” are the new Third Places. Your preferred, distinctive, highly specialised places between work and home.
We’ve noticed restaurants, bars and services specialized in a not just a specific style of cooking, but on one ingredient, or one way of preparing an ingredient . Or one essential service. Or establishments that are taking the typical environment in a new direction. Doing something new, with a bold, clear focus. Not following others.
The images in this post are of BeefBar in Montre Carlo specialising in meat and established by European meat importer Riccfardo Giraudi who needed an uboring meat restaurant to showcase the best of meat and to entertain his clients.
The fairly recently refurbished interior is by Monaco-based Humbert & Poyet Agency. Especially impressive in the Monte Carlo BeefBar are the custom-made Murano glass chandelier and the marble bathrooms.
In our search for specialisation, we’ve encountered the Obika Mozzarella Bar in Rome/Florence/London/Milan/New York/Los Angeles/Toronto/Istanbul/Tokyo. We fell in love with their website’s sensuous Fabrizio Ferri-directed intro video about the art of making those delicious orbs of Mozzarella di Bufala Campana DOP, mozzarella made from the milk of the domestic water buffalo.
And the Poncelet Cheese Bar in Madrid with its cool, angular interior by Gabriel Corchero Studio.
Or San Francisco’s Coffee Bar, a coffee bar decidedly moving away from the atmosphere of scruffy armchairs and permanent residents with their laptops, to creating an elegant, minimalist stage for making an espresso drink .
We’ve also noticed the Asian Noodle Bar, Zozobra, in Kfar-Sabba, Israel, where chef Avi Conforti prepares Asian food based on centuries-old recipes in a shockingly vast and modern environment, designed by BK Architects.
A rear of a small inner city Melbourne pub has been transformed from a tiny add-on back extension into a voyeuristic playground by Techné Architects. The clever rethinking of the space has effectively turned the 130m2 back area of The Prahran Hotel into 300m2 over three levels.
The star of the design is a series of 17 ½ concrete waterpipes. These concrete culverts dominate the striking street façade.
For architect Justin Northrop, the pipes add a lot more than drama to the hotel’s exterior. “Inside you are climbing over the pipes, sitting in them, or on them at various levels. They have a lasting impact on the space.”
Guests can sit in booths inside the pipes. “We were looking for a sense of drama and theatricality,” says Northrop.
Booths can be seen from the street, and throughout the interior of the hotel. Each booth, that seats up to 12, features leather upholstered banquettes and is lined with recycled spotted gum slats and acoustic absorption mats. “The voyeuristic nature of these pubs is very important, the way the space is connected visually,” says Northrop.
The project is the fifth pub collaboration between Techné and hotel group Sand Hill Road (SHR has pubs around Melbourne and moonlight as successful film producers). Pub Group’s Matt Mullins was not trying to create a gastro pub. “I want it to be accessible, for locals, for neighbours,” he says. At the same time, the close collaboration with Techné in the past meant Mullins was more than open to left-field design ideas. The main bar features salvaged pipes, concrete cast lamps and plantings by Ayus Botanical.
Guests can choose between three levels; the ground floor mixes polychromatic textured tiles and spotted gum floorboards, with a light-filled courtyard and street views. The courtyard features a striking nine-metre trapezoidal concrete wall, that has a corrugated effect and porthole motifs.
The natural materials and soft upholstery take the edge of the concrete, steel and glass used in the interior. (Even the banisters are covered in leather for a luxe, surprise element.)
The 12-seat VIP area sits atop a giant water pipe, feeling suspended over the space. A key criteria of the design was to ensure that patrons always have a vantage point from wherever they are in the space. “It’s great for voyeurs,” says Mullins. An exception to the open-plan approach is a sunken seating area, known as ‘the lair’, below stairs for patrons who want to stay under wraps.
At its core, design “is about conviviality” says Northrop. “It’s providing people with opportunities to interact in non-standard ways, a whole variety of seating and gathering.” To make sure there is space for serious partying, one long table on the ground floor can be dismantled to make way for an impromptu dance floor. Northrop made sure the redesign featured a serious DJ deck. “Afterall pubs are not meant to be places of calm and reflection,” he says. Indeed. - Emily Ross
Photography: Peter Clarke
If the city is called Casablanca (White House), creating an all-white interior for a restaurant there isn’t a major creative break-through. But Christophe Pillet, the designer of the Maison Blanche (White House), reflected the omnipresent white back on itself with smoked mirrors, and created a vertigo-inducing vessel-of-a-space that forces us to look again.
The 600 square-meter (approx. 6500 sq.ft.) restaurant and bar, opened in July 2012 at La Place Mohamed Abdou and La Rue du Commandant Lamy, facing the Parc de la Ligue Arave. Maison Blanche Casablanca is the baby sister of Maison Blanche Fes, opened in 2009.
Maison Blanche Casablanca feels like a container, a bottle, or a jewellery box where the guest will appear as the filling, the jewel, the berry, or the decoration. Chef Thierry Vaissière’s cuisine will likely bring the guests back again for another look at themselves and their chic friends.
Our first landing into Casablanca many years ago offered an aerial view of a beautiful white city, but the actual on-the-street experience was a disappointing drag through an exhausted, dilapidated city whose vitality and lifeblood was sadly missing.
Maison Blanche and many other businesses like it are suggesting we should visit more often and give the white beauty another reason to charm us. - Tuija Seipell
Gilbert and Thierry Costes’s Parisian hospitality empire, Beaumarly, has produced yet another entry: Café Français at 1, Place de la Bastille.
Facing the Opéra, the Café Français includes a brasserie, a bar, a veranda and a terrace, and takes up almost an entire block, form Boulevard Henri IV to Rue Saint Antoine, making it one of the largest establishments of its kind in Paris.
We love the juicy leather seating, seemingly bursting out of its form and showing off the French national colours. Counter-balancing the roundness of the seating are the classic hard and reflective materials: marble, mirrors, terrazzo, brass and copper leaf with the black-and-white colour scheme bringing out a contemporary feel.
Topping the two dining rooms is yet another of our favourites: the blue sky mural on the dome. It adds whimsy and colour and makes the large rooms appear even larger. Dramatic arches and alcoves create separate seating areas without breaking the overall flow of the space.
Artistic design of the space is by veteran Thierry collaborators, India Mahdavi, and Mathias Augustyniak and Michaël Amzalag of M/M (Paris) Studio. Chef Pascal Lognon-Duval presides in the kitchen. - Tuija Seipell
We have covered the restaurant design work of the Gothenburg, Sweden-based Stylt Trampoli before when we wrote about Le Rouge in Stockholm.
We loved Le Rouge for the same reasons we are now loving Le Pain Francais, located along Gothenburg’s classy boulevard, Kungsportsavenyen.
The slightly mad scale and the magical distortion of proportions, combined with an elegant use of colour and texture, make the four-story restaurant into a fantastic experience.
Le Pain Francais is an established chain of French bakeries in Gothenburg but this is their first foray into a full-scale restaurant.
Stylt, the architecture and design firm known for its use of stories and narratives as a base for design long before it became common, has infused Le Pain Francais with an eclectic and not-too-serious grandiosity harkening back to the times when Paris celebrated Jules Verne and Gustave Eiffel’s tower adorned the entrance of the Paris World’s Fair.
Founded by creative director Erik Nissen Johansen, Stylt has designed restaurant and hotel interiors in Scandinavia for the past 20 years including the recent successfully crowdsourced and widely celebrated redesign of the Livingroom of Helsinki’s Klaus K hotel. - Tuija Seipell.
Biribildu is a new souvlaki restaurant in the Alimos (or Kalamaki) area of Athens. The quirky design of the casual fast-food eatery is by Thessaloniki architect Minas Kosmidis whose Farma Creaton restaurant we have featured previously.
The Basque word Biribildu means to turn, to make a round, to round out, to perfect, and the round form appears frequently in the design. As a travelling circus goes around from town to town it became a fitting theme for the casual eatery that offers gyros made with meat off a vertical rotating roaster.
Two circus carousel horses imply going around and around,and they also direct the customer traffic toward the ordering counter and large menu. The tables are circular, as are many of the circus-themed wall decorations.
The kitchen, washrooms and storage areas are hidden inside huge wooden “boxes” that give a nod toward the transportation crates used by a travelling circus.
The cash desk is inside what looks like a tiger’s cage and above it hang the knives of, Mr. Biribildu, the circus master himself who is, apparently, a mean knife-thrower.
We like the overall midway and boardwalk feel of the 80 square-meter (860 sq.ft.) space with its eclectic juxtaposition of elements such as the Mediterranean plaster mouldings in the ceiling and the tile pattern covering the air vents, mixed with the floor treatment that resembles a typical circus-tent floor: wet sand. - Tuija Seipell.
Romita Comedor is a restaurant that is less than two years old yet it has the ambience of a well-loved, casual tradition.
The interior touches - the use of wood and tile, the wood furnishings, the many plants and various surface treatments - all seem to belong here, and they seem to have belonged for a long time. Nice vintage-chic patina that also looks fresh and modern – not easy to achieve.
The dining room is located in Mexico City, in the heart of Colonia Roma, at Avenida Álvaro Obregón 49.
The building dates back to early 1900s and its style was inspired by grand railway stations. It is also protected by the INBA (Instituta Nacional de Bellas Artes).
The massive windows, glass ceiling and a retractable awning all take full advantage of the station-style architecture, and let the light in for the benefit of the many plants.
The building’s current owner, Rodrig Espinoza, and his two partners, Marcela Lugo and Arturo, designed the restaurant with the idea in mind that it would become a gathering place that would attract not just the locals but visitors as well.
Romita Comedor is known for authentic Mexican cuisine, great cocktails at the two bars, and live entertainment by well-known DJs. The building also houses a design shop and a hair salon. - Tuija Seipell
Opening this week in Antwerp, Belgium, The Jane restaurant designed by Piet Boon has all the building blocks of a success. An intriguing building: A chapel of a former military hospital that gives the restaurant the aura of a sacred place mixed with a certain darkness. An interesting location: Antwerp’s ’t Groen Kwartier that with its lofts in restored buildings and green areas designed by famous architects is developing into a trendy area.
A famous chef-owner: Sergio Herman with his young right-hand man Nick Bril running the establishment. A renowned designer: Dutch Piet Boon restaurant who used fantastic collaborators to add customized spunk. The massive lighting fixture (weighing 800 kg) in the middle of the main dining room was created by Beirut, Lebanon-based PSlab and the stained-glass windows by the Antwerp-based Studio Job led by Job Smeets and Nynke Tynagel.
Our favourite aspects of The Jane are the scale of the space - its height, massive arches and large windows, the lovely decaying celling, and the almost complete lack of colour. We like how the interior touches respect the building and echo its history.
In a media release, Nick Bril explains why they named the restaurant The Jane “…Jane is the name of a fictional woman with the same qualities as our restaurant. The Jane will be sensual, exciting and chic. It will have an attractive international air, but also a hint of darkness. It will be tasteful and sophisticated, but also rock-’n’-roll. Like our perfect woman.” - Tuija Seipell
Hong Kong seems to have more than enough restaurants, yet new ones keep opening up and the best candidates always do well. The latest in the Chinese restaurant genre is Mott 32, in the Standard Chartered Bank Building in Central.
We love the echoes of the past that are visible everywhere at Mott 32 without turning the establishment into a traditional Chinese restaurant. It is all cool vibes and modern touches perfectly suitable for urban Hong Kong
of today, but in a skilfully prepared wrapping of patina and allure.
The name Mott 32 has its roots in 32 Mott Street in New York City where it was the address of the city’s first Chinese convenience store, opened in 1851 by pioneering Hong Kong families whose entrepreneurship and hard work helped establish Chinatown and spread the global love of Chinese food.
Metal, wood, rattan, leather, eccentric lighting, and countless details make Mott 32 a place where there are cool stories everywhere.
A massive abacus in the ceiling, a spectacular display of brushes, newly “decaying” ceilings in the bathroom, cool art on the walls, all of these aspects of the interior are carrying stories that echo the bygone industrial vibe of New York and the agrarian traditions, craftsmanship and hard work in China and Hong Kong. - Tuija Seipell.
Istanbul, with its magical mix of tradition and everything new, cosmopolitan and local, offers a fertile ground for new concepts and new business ideas.
Nopa, the restaurant and grill opened recently in the Nisantasi neighbourhood, is perhaps not that radical as a restaurant concept, but it has a delicious lushness and richness that appeals to us.
The grand scale and opulence speak of bygone times of train travel, gentlemen’s clubs and important residences. Marble, leather, masculine stone surfaces.
But there is also a cool modern, open-to-the world vibe created by the green vertical walls framing the patio that has a glass roof that can be opened in seconds to create an outdoor terrace.
The House Hotel group is the creator and operator of Nopa, with Istanbul’s hospitality designer darlings, Seyhan Özdemir and Sefer Cağlar of Autobahn, in charge of design. - Tuija Seipell.
Texas-born, Atlanta-based chef-turned-restaurateur, Ford Fry, continues to enrich Atlanta’s dining offering.
Earlier this year, his Rocket Farm restaurant group opened its fifth restaurant, St. Cecilia, in The Pinnacle building in Buckhead, in the space previously occupied by Bluepointe.
To design the establishment that has room for nearly 200 in total, Fry selected Meyer Davis Studio http://www.meyerdavis.com/about/ of New York, established in 1999 by Will Meyer and Gray Davis. Fry has used the same studio for his King + Duke restaurant.
Meyer Davis’s work on prestigious retail and hospitality projects includes the revamp of W Lakeshore in Chicago and Paramount in New York, plus Oscar de la Renta’s boutiques worldwide and John Varvatos stores in New York and Las Vegas.
St. Cecilia’s most redeeming feature is the scale and the satisfying feel of pattern and repetition. The first impression is that of order without severity and spaciousness without the unwelcoming feel of coldness.
The space is high, the sightlines clear and wide with lots of natural light. Seating and tables, shelves and bottles, and rows of pendant lighting fixtures all add to the sense of harmony and tidiness, yet there are spots of whimsy and little surprises at every turn.
Bits and pieces of mementoes, old medicine bottles, old books, a plank of aged wood, a darkened painting leaning against a wall, a stuffed bird on a side board.
These details neutralize the newness and create a comfortable visual link to something old and somewhat Mediterranean, an appropriate context for the Italian-inspired menu.
And of course we love the black-and-white colour scheme, always a harmonious back drop for creative sparks.
In addition to St. Cecilia, Ford Fry also operates JCT Kitchen, No. 246, The Optimist, and King + Duke, all in Atlanta. He is rumored to be planning his sixth and seventh restaurants in Krog Street Market and in the Avalon in Alpharetta, Atlanta. Tuija Seipell