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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
Whatever Parisian pastry chef extraordinaire, Philippe Conticini, does gets noticed. His talent for creating desserts that are art in all meanings of the word has found yet another expression this September when he unveiled his latest creation, La Pâtisserie des Rêves (the patisserie of dreams), in the chic 7th arrondissement in Paris. Nothing in the design of the sleek 29 square-metre boutique is reminiscent of a traditional European konditorei. Most strikingly, the stars of the space — the desserts, cakes and pastries — are displayed on a round platform in the centre. Each of the 15 culinary masterpieces is presented under its own temperature-controlled glass bell suspended from the ceiling. Customers order their selection from the staff, after which each order appears directly from the kitchen. Both ideas evoke the feel of a meticulous laboratory where precious specimens are handled. Conticini has been in the culinary limelight for more than two decades with his own TV show, several books, restaurants and awards. - Tuija Seipell
Hôtel de Sers in Paris exemplifies a building that fits magnificently in its new role as a hotel because the current owners’ expensive and extensive renovation retained the initial feel and the structural bones of the original mansion, and managed to insert today’s touches in a way that does not feel like a pretentious afterthought.
Today, Hôtel de Sers has 45 rooms, four junior suites, two large suites with terraces that overlook all of the splendor of Paris, and one 80-square-meter apartment. The original building was a four-storey mansion designed by architect Jules Pellechet in 1880 for Henri-Leopold Charles, the Marquis de Sers.
In the early 1900s, the building served as a medical facility and gained four more floors and a six-storey attachment. It has been a hotel since 1935. In 1999, the Vidalenc family took over the building that was then known as Hôtel le Queen Elizabeth, and the family's younger son, Thibault Vidalenc, became the general manager. He engaged his cousin, recently graduated architect Thomas Vidalenc, and together the two began the 11 million Euro transformation of the old mansion into the chic and desirable Hôtel de Sers it is today.
Thomas Vidalenc designed most of the furniture as well, and added the latest comforts, technology and amenities to the rooms, but the new never overpowers the French classical elements.
The designer touches -- such as modern, sculptural occasional tables, and chairs and cushions covered in retro-floral fabrics -- add a Scandinavian, modernist feel, but it all seems to somehow belong in this environment that is resplendent with gold, and old paintings and red velvet. Not an easy balance to achieve. - Tuija Seipell
Le Bar 228 at the grand Le Meurice hotel in Paris is often topping the city’s “Best bar” lists. The reason may be the 50-plus whiskies on the list, or the 300 or so specialty cocktails, including the “228 or the “Starcky.” Which leads us conveniently to yet another possible reason: the opulent and masculine interiors, nicely re-imagined by Philippe Starck.
Le Meurice is a palace hotel overlooking the Tuileries Garden. For two centuries, it has been one of the most elegant hotels in Europe, and one with close ties with the artistic and creative world. Starck was invited to awaken this sleeping beauty from its slumber and he did it by infusing a sexy, modern dynamic yet letting the powerful 18th century magnificence re-claim its glory days. Starck’s skilful touch is seen throughout the hotel, not just in Le Bar 228.
Le Meurice is part of the Dorchester Collection of luxury hotels group of hotels that includes among others The Beverly Hills Hotel, Hotel Principe di Savoia in Milan, The New York Palace, 45 Park Lane in London. - Bill Tikos
Last week, Martell Cognac flew TCH to Paris to attend the unveiling of the Martell Amber Lamp by iconic French architect, Jean Nouvel.
We were delighted to discover that Lionel Breton, CEO of Martell is a big fan of TCH as is the team at Nouvel's studio.
In his presentation, Mr. Nouvel told us how he was brought up in the same region where Martell Cognac is made, and so it was natural for him to want to create the lamp as a tribute to the excellence of Martell cognac. Only about 50 of the sculptural lights will be manufactured and they will be exposed in prestigious outlets across the globe, art galleries, museums, etc and at Martell's Chateau de Chanteloup in Cognac.
The 65-year-old Nouvel created not so much a lamp as a sculpture – a large glass bulb with a metal staff that glows warm, golden light almost as if the glass were still semi-liquid and hot, and in the process of becoming its final shape. The glow of this warm light is a perfect place to enjoy the company of friends and to sip some Martell cognac!
Martell was founded by Jean Martell in 1715. From the Firino-Martell family, it passed through the hands of the Canadian Seagram family to its current owners, the Pernod Ricard Group, that also owns Ballantine’s, Chivas Regal, Absolute Vodka, Kahlua, Malibu and many other premium alcohol brands.
The Martell brand has been creating some buzz recently by launching a Martell-branded window display at Harrods in London and a look-at-me-style pop-up at Hong Kong airport.
Last but not least, a huge thank you to Katja Graisse from Balistik Art who handled all of the details of our visit with impeccable style and superior efficiency – in English and French! We deal with dozens of PR firms each week, and we can say with conviction that Katja is the best of the best. It is no wonder that French luxury brands form the bulk of her clientele. - Bill Tikos
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
Life like print ads are sweeping the world's most prominent cities. In Paris, Stringfellows strip club have put the pole into pole-dancing by cleverly designing their print campaign to work with existing lamp posts throughout the city. The ads are sharp, sexy, and almost interactive in their appearance, providing the ultimate X-factor that most advertising agencies only ever dream about. by Andy G
Paris loves to show off. The recently re-opened Le Royal Monceau is by far the showiest hotel in which the TCH team has ever stayed. This is a storied hotel and a location with a fantastic, historical past, but the latest incarnation is reimagined by Philippe Starck.
We are not huge fans of Starck as we tend to consider him one of the somewhat “gimmicky” designers — together with Karim Rashid or Marcel Wanders — whose creations sometimes transcend time and become classics, yet at others appear like a flash-in-a-pan that you only want to see once. This kind of design is fun and quirky, but we get tired of it very quickly.
In Le Royal Monceau, Philippe Starck has created a classic. Two years after possibly the wildest ‘demolition party’ in history, Paris’ newest palace hotel is THE place to stay.
The location itself is a winner: Five minutes’ walk from Arc De Triomphe and Champs-Elysées.
The entry to Le Royal Monceau is super-grand, from the six doormen to the first glimpse of the foyer — it feels like you’ve walked onto the movie set of Eyes Wide Shut. The luxe-chic interiors are the grandest we’ve seen but it’s somehow magically NOT over the top. It works in Paris; it really works wonderfully.
The hotel’s point of difference is a serious commitment to art. It has its own gallery, Art District, with the inaugural Basquiat show, of works selected from Enrico Navarra’s collection. There’s also an art bookshop and a dedicated blog Artforbreakfast.
There’s also a whiff of rock’n'roll, with each room featuring its own guitar, with a portable recording studio available to guests. Trailblazing fashion multibrand, L’Eclaireur, will also host a show room in the hotel. Plus there’s a Clarins spa, Pierre Hermé desserts, a cigar smoking room, a cinema, an extensive garden.
The rooms are fantastic, and for 800 Euro a night, you’d want them to be.
We were upgraded to the hotel’s best suite on the top floor with an attic-style roof. We entered a room to find a service of croissants, macaroons, coffee, water, grapes and oranges presented in a way fit for a president. The room has a small lounge with a large mirror leaning against the wall like a painting. The mirror miraculously becomes a TV with a switch of the remote control.
While the bed with its Italian crisp linen is divine, the bathroom is a real eye-opener. It’s like ‘Studio 54 meets a Puff Daddy video’ or like bathing on the face of a Chanel diamond wrist watch. All mirrors on every wall. You either love it or hate it.
Le Royal Monceau has it all, including all the beautiful people. The in-crowd has found it and the breakfast room was buzzing with film directors, actors models, advertising gurus, fashion types ; everyone dressed immaculately looking like a tear-sheet from Paris Vogue.
Power meetings were happening over lunch and at dinner/drinks. The place was buzzing with the most flamboyant characters we’ve seen in a while and literally every night was busy. We can only imagine the vibe of this place when Paris Fashion Week comes along! - 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
It doesn’t take much imagination to understand that toys and childhood play were the guiding inspirations for the recently completed children’s sports and recreation center in Saint-Cloud, a wealthy community located in the metropolitan area of Paris, about six miles from the city center.
Designed by Paris-based KOZ Architects, and coexisting with several older educational buildings and a residential development, the 1,600 square-meter facility is unexpected and bold in its riotous use of colours both inside and out. A more typical an approach for this type of neighbourhood would have been a structure that vanishes into its surroundings.
The funhouse by KOZ has turned into a favorite of kids, parents and teachers, as the facility was planned and its wild colours used in specific ways that fosters the intended functions -- play and sports – and not just to shock or delight.
Joining cube-shaped, basic concrete structures with an overlay and creating a sports court on top of the building have not only increased the building’s usability and maximized the use of the site, but also accommodated the complex’s surprisingly easy fit into the site. A monolithic, monotonic approach would have created a mass much more imposing and seemingly unfriendly than the varying-height structure with its pixelated glass facade that now draws children in through colour and an abundance of natural light.
KOZ was established in 1999 Christophe Ouhayoun and Nicholas Ziesel, graduates of the Paris-Belleville School of Architecture who both spent part of their childhoods in the USA. With three other architectural firms, KOZ established a collaborative collective, Plan01 in 2001. - Tuija Seipell
Elegance, minimalism, form-and-function – you know our favorites already. So it comes as no surprise that we like Muriel Grateau’s newly minimalized boutique/gallery at 37 Rue de Beaune in Paris.
Grateau, the queen of the minimalist table setting and sculptural Art Deco jewelry, has had a shop in Paris since 1992 (at this address since 1997) and this fall’s boutique refurbishment was undertaken in celebration of her two decades here.
Displaying her 100 shades of table linen and her subtle, unobtrusive tableware in an all-white setting is not terribly original or imaginative, but it does seem to be perfect for the purpose.
Taking a page from the tested-and-true Japanese book of the art of the minimalist display, Grateau deletes absolutely everything that is not the focal point, i.e. the items on display.
Her goal was to evoke a feeling of floating, to imply that the pieces are unattached and unrestrained by mere surfaces or walls.
Materials such as white mineral resin, stones covered with white powdered paint, white lacquered steel plate and LED lighting were used to create the ethereal 140 square-meter space.
Attending the September 19th re-launch party were design luminaires including Tristan Auer, Lorenz Baümer, Jean Louis Deniot, Hervé Van der Straeten, Chahan Minassian, Juan Montoya, Hervé Van der Straeten, Charles Zana and Pierre Yovanovitch. - Tuija Seipell. (Pics - Oleg Covian)
The Moscow-based Podium Fashion Groupl is involved in numerous fashion ventures, but what caught our eye is the Podium 1 jewellery store in Paris (at 334, rue St.-Honore, Paris 1er, right across from Colette). The tiny shop (50 square metres) oozes glamour and old money, patina and luxury.
The rich feel is created through textured wallpaper, dark antique or aged wood furnishings, curved vitrines, thick-glass cabinets with hand-tooled iron pulls, plus a massive armoire standing on curled legs and sporting Gothic arches. The slightly mad and eccentric, yet visually cohesive neogothic interior and furnishings are by Moscow-based Artbureau I/1 (“one over one”) whose eight principals create both private and commercial interiors and architecture.
Podium’s Paris store is a space for one-of-a-kind, hand-crafted pieces created with rare or antique techniques by jewellery names such as Loree Rodkin whose pieces recently adorned Michelle Obama at the inauguration ball and Cher on the cover of Architectural Digest. Tuija Seipell
New from our favourite French artist - Francoise Nielly
L’Arc Paris, Restaurant-Bar & Club, has been open for four months and at least the Club has already become the place where you go if you want to be with the chic, the famous and the beautiful. Mostly, you go there to be seen.
Last month, one of the must-see occasions at the Club was the Chloé Van Paris’s Fashion Burlesque Ball, a masquerade where the dress code, according to the Club’s Facebook page. Party - Club Party was “13 cm heels, nylon, glamorous stockings, retro, pine-up, dandy, sexy, smart and glamorous.”
At the Restaurant, chef Antony Germani (of L’Atelier Joël Robuchon) presides over menus of seasonal everything-made-from-scratch delicacies.
L’Arc occupies the former premises of l’Etoile Nightclub at 12 rue de Presbourg, with views of Arc de Triomphe but it was completely redesigned by Cannes-based Prospect Design.
Prospect was established in 1996 by Samy Chams (and expanded into Dubai in 2005) whose night-club design work includes VIP Room in St Tropez, Baili in Cannes, and Maddox and Movida in London. - Tuija Seipell
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.
Paris has now joined Beijing, Beirut, Buenos Aires, Doha, Dubai, Florence, Geneva, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Macao, Madrid, Moscow, New York, Portofino, Riyadh, Shanghai and Tokyo as a location of an Officine Panerai watch boutique.
The Parisian shop opened in September in the 1st arrondissement on Rue de la Paix's jewellery row, between Place Vendôme and Opéra Garnier.
The Italian company was founded in Florence in 1860 by Giovanni Panerai. It became the official supplier of the Italian Navy and continued to build various precision instruments for the army's diving corps. Panerai remained relatively unknown in the civilian world until its bulky watches were brought to popular attention by Sylvester Stallone who wore a Panerai Luminor watch during the shooting of the movie Daylight in Rome. Stallone then ordered and signed a special batch of the watches called Slytech. He gave them to his friends, including Arnold Schwarzenegger. Stallone has since worn many Panerais, including the largest Panerai wrist watch, the limited-edition Panerai Egiziano, with a face that is 60mm in diameter.
The interior of the 41 square-meter Parisian boutique echoes Panerai's naval traditions by emphasizing precision and quality, and featuring such materials as teak and steel. - Bill Tikos
Perhaps we have died and gone to heaven, or just seeing visions, but this not the kind of bank that we do business with. Unfortunately.
This far-reaching concept bank is located in the historical building of 2, Place de l’Opéra. The space is chock-full of completely wacky un-bank features, yet it also has a nice retro touch — the honeycombed ceiling, lovely mirrors — that gives it the elegance and respectability that the building’s history warrants and the bank’s business must convey.
Other than that, it is an almost 1,000 square-meter funhouse of colors, shapes, textures and forms with the goal to entice the customer to discover, interact, experiment and (gasp!) enjoy.
In ten specific zones, all regular banking functions from daily banking to stock-market info, private meetings, staff training can take place with the emphasis on breaking the age-old banking set-up where the client and the adviser (the teller, the banker) are on opposite sides.
All of this plus a temporary exhibition area dedicated to kids, a coffee bar, a 25 square-meter green, living wall set the tone for the unusual banking experience. Of course, such aspects as ergonomics, sustainability, proper lighting and the latest technology, are givens.
In addition to custom furniture and furnishings, Zoevox used furniture by Christophe Delcourt, Philippe Hurel, Paola Lenti, Christian Liaigre, India Mahdavi, Antonio Lupi (lavabo), Pierre Paulin and Philippe Starck, and lighting by Sylvie Coquet, Adrien Gardère, Poul Henningsen, Marco Merendi, Karim Rashid and Patricia Urquiola. Now, can we all expect our neighbourhood banks to change? Tuija Seipell
DDB Paris created this simple, fun “Escape Machine” experience for the French travel company Voyages SNCF.
Menacing, glowing black cubes wait till someone goes close enough. Then the cube asks where the person would like to travel. Pushing the red button produces a crazy celebration, complete with gigantic walking kisses, and provides the wishers large, customized mock tickets to their destination. Watching the faces of the onlookers is just as much fun as the experience itself!
The underlying message is that the company’s Escape service lets you travel to any destination you want. DDB Paris with executive creative director Alexandre Harve created this, as it did last year’s flash-mob “Welcome Service” scenes for Voyages SNCF. - Tuija Seipell
Wine tasting is passé and the English have already perfected the High Tea, and nothing surpasses the Japanese tea ceremony. So what’s next? The creative minds at L'Hôtel de Vendôme in Paris set their eyes on “High Coffee.” They don’t call it that, but it certainly looks and feels like it.
Every afternoon, superior gourmet coffee varieties are served according to the expertise of France’s Best Roaster of 2011, Antoine Netien, and Tom Clark, owners of Paris’s high-profile Coutume Café, and importers and roasters of vintage coffees.
Enticing the coffee-drinkers to elevate their experience to a sinful level of indulgence are dainty carts full of mouth-watering sweet delicacies created with the supervision of Luc Debove, Chef Pâtissier of the Grand Hotel of Cap Ferrat, that belongs to the same group as 1 Place Vendôme.
This culinary extravagance is served in the hotel’s deliciously prissy first-floor restaurant, 1 Place Vendôme with its magnificent views of the Place Vendôme. When the restaurant opened in 2009, it was Florence-based architect Michele Bönan’s first restaurant and hotel project in France.
Bönan created a completely customized, elegant setting in a couture-style theme with silver-studded black-and-white hounds’ tooth chairs, plush silk and velvet sofas, silver satin curtains, and cushions of pink silk satin with black and white ribbed motifs.
And to amplify the luxurious effect, all this is contained in a space with virgin-white walls, floors and ceilings. All furniture and fittings, including curtains, cushions and carpeting were custom-designed by Bönan and manufactured in Florence from fabrics by the Italian fabric house Dedar. - Tuija Seipell
Ecole Maternelle Pajol, a four-classroom kindergarten on Rue Pajol in Paris’s 18th arrondissement, combines so many of the things we love.
Parisian architecture office Palatre & Leclère has restored and reimagined the 1940s building , yet they have left the basic feel of the structure unchanged. We believe in repurposing and saving older buildings, but letting them tell their previous stories, even in their new guises.
We love colour, especially when it is used to brighten up an otherwise drab or monotonous environment. This kindergarten clearly speaks the language of joyful colour.
We love it when public art and public buildings and spaces are used to express joy and be playful, too, not just to parade impressive and “acceptable” art and architecture. Of all places, shouldn’t a kindergarten resonate deeply with children, not just adults?
And of course we love any project that invest the same time, effort and resources into spaces and places for kids than we are used to investing into adults’ play.
In Ecole Maternelle Pajol, Palatre & Leclère used colour boldly both inside and out. They also provided a variety of shapes and forms in the furniture, furnishings and on the walls, in the play areas, rest areas and even in the bathrooms. In addition, they provided a variety of textures from tile and glass to rubber and wood.
The building has kept its 1940s brick-wall feel, yet it radiates exuberance and has an up-to-date energy. Most likely its current users feel it was built just for them.
Palatre & Leclère is an architecture agency founded in 2006 by Tiphaine Leclère and Olivier Palatre. - Tuija Seipell.
We love this particular series of abstract paintings by French artist Gerard Stricher. There is a fantastic mix of nature and industry in them.
We see waterfalls and ships at sea, cities and factories, all dynamic and slightly dangerous yet somehow limitlessly beautiful. Dreamlike, not nightmarish. Stories full of drama and feeling. Perhaps his one-time studio, an old mill in the French Vexin, has given him inspiration for some of these.
The 65 year-old abstract painter creates mostly large-scale works of vibrant colour on multiple themes, including people as seen here.
Stricher has become better known in the U.S. in the past few years and he is now represented by Gallery Schwab Beaubourg in Paris and the Canfin Gallery in New York where his work will be exhibited this May. - Tuija Seipell
Billboards are meant to distract and annoy, to draw attention and to not fit in. In its recent on-street ad campaign, IBM promotes its People for Smart Cities Program with billboards that are even more invasive.
Ogilvy & Mather France took the concept of the board and bent it into shapes that could – with some effort – be seen as solutions for a somewhat smarter city, London and Paris in this case. A board bends to become a bench, a rain shelter or a ramp over stairs.
It is still visual clutter, it is still preaching something, but at least it is doing it with a bit more imagination than just pushing a loud message. How many citizens actually paid attention to IBM’s message on the street while perusing the practical benefits of the boards, we don’t know, but the social media attention this campaign is achieving has certainly worked its magic. We certainly found ourselves deep in the depths of IBM’s Smarter Planet, Smarter Cities site, reading white papers and studies about retail and merchandising. - 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
Dutch design pair Rolf Snoeren and Viktor Horsting celebrate the 20th anniversary of their Viktor & Rolf brand by opening a massive Paris flagship store in the 1st arrondissement, at 370 Rue Saint-Honoré.
One expects nothing but spectacular from the brand that has been owned by Renzo Rosso’s group since 2008, with apparently deep pockets to support the label’s growth and expansion.
But we did not expect felt-padded walls or the omnipresent grey colour – a hue that now seems to be the new black of retail environments and is in fact getting a bit boring already.
The charcoal surroundings do show off the more colourful pieces, but there’s something quite depressing and aggressive about all that greyness.
The 7,000 square-foot (650 square-meter) multi-level emporium was designed by the Paris-based Pierre Beucler and Jean-Christophe Poggioli of Architecture & Associés.
The store houses much of the Viktor and Rolf collection including ladies’ wear, handbags, shoes, eyewear, and a selection of menswear and limited-edition pieces. - Tuija Seipell.
We are not quite sure how long we can stand feeling this envious but, for now, our envy is directed sharply at the owners of the gorgeous 500-square-meter (5,382 sq.ft) Parisian property, recently overhauled by designer François Champsaur.
The Marseilles-born, Paris-based designer was faced with a double challenge. The family has owned this apartment for generations, yet Champsaur’s brief was to make it “unrecognisable,” as he is quoted as saying in a magazine article.
Also, the apartment is located in the Trocadéro neighbourhood with views of the Eiffel Tower and the Seine, and it carries a historical weight as a representative of an era. Champsaur did not want to destroy these historical underpinnings in the process.
Like the proverbial sculptor, he removed everything that wasn’t the apartment, including walls, false ceilings, doors and staircases. Narrow corridors, thick walls, heavy doors and dark corners disappeared.
The beautiful, U-shaped open space circling an inner courtyard was then carefully outfitted with just the right replacements: Light-weight walls and partitions, open sight-lines, minimal colour, custom-designed furnishings and lighting.
The cool old-world feel comes from the white framework, and of course, the view. You have no doubt your are in a storied, fabulously aging, historical space, but it is also a decidedly and classically modern luxury home.
Champsaur even convinced the owners to heed the call of their almost-empty-vessel surroundings. Used to living among numerous valuable and ornate objects in every room, the owners now agreed to select only key pieces that give just the right touch of decoration, tradition and opulence.
Many of the pieces of furniture, such as the Mars chairs by Konstantin Grcic for ClassiCon, are also sculptural and demand visual scarcity around them. One of our Our favourites is the green leather banquette seating designed by François Champsaur. We also love the undulating dividers made of both wood panels and wood slats and strategically placed to emphasize not so much the division but the unity of the spaces. - Tuija Seipell.
With a floor as beautiful as the chevron-patterned dark hardwood one in this recently renovated classic apartment, the re-imagining designers’ main job is to try to not ruin it or its harmonizing and stylish effect.
In the case of the Strasbourg, France-based private apartment in question, the other defining features are the gorgeous fourth-floor corner location with the large windows, and the elegant cast-iron railings.
Luckily, design team Tomas Umbrasas, Aidas Barzda, Tautvydas Vileikis, Rokas Kontvainis of YCL Studio knew how to leave these elements alone. Not only did they preserve them, they also emphasized them.
The gorgeous ceiling moldings, classic crystal chandeliers, the smart placing of a few ornate wall sconces, and the overall white and cool grey colouring draw attention to and highlight these time-tested features.
The five-room apartment is 114 square meters (1,227 sq.ft.) in size but it looks significantly larger because there are no tight nooks or dark corners, no hidden areas and no unnecessary doors.
The design team made one substantial – and extremely appealing - change in the original room division by creating a massive, white bath room/spa with its own windows, seating area and seemingly endless space. This alone upgrades the apartment to a totally new level.
Located in the Alsace region of North-eastern France, Strasbourg is the home of the European Parliament with more than its share of gorgeous apartments and residences.
Combining traditional and new as smartly as the YCL team has done is a perfect fit for the cool set of the town.
Based in the capital Lithuania, Vilnius, with its neoclassical and Gothic architectural highlights, the YCL team brought to the project not just a fine sense of new and modern, balance and scale, but, more important, a confident sensibility toward what must stay and what must go. - Tuija Seipell.