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
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
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
High Tea at fancy hotels has long been a favourite of not just the Royals and the ladies who lunch, but even tourists glamming it up and gladly handing out their credit cards for a bit of high-brow fabulousness.
Wine Tastings and High Coffee came next, served and imbibed in various degrees of decadence and glamour.
But the stakes are getting higher and the temptations harder to resist. The Landmark Mandarin Oriental hotel in Hong Kong is now serving a L900 Jimmy Choo package but only till early May. It includes afternoon tea for two at the MO Bar where the expected fare is served: cucumber and smoked salmon sandwiches, the Mandarin's famous ginger scones and clotted cream, and macaroons in a multitude of flavours, but it is all meticulously handcrafted in exquisite shoe and handbag shapes. Jimmy Choo, of course. And after the tea, you can check into the Mandarin 9200 square-foot L900 Suite for a night and select a pair from Jimmy Choo's new 24:7 capsule collection. Price tag for the splurge? Approximately $1,500 US. - Tuija Seipell
Combining their three loves -- coffee, cycling and sustainability -- inspired two London Royal College of Art product design students to create a mobile espresso bar, the Velopresso, that operates on pedal power. No electricity, no tethers. A truly free-wheeling carrier of caffeine!
This concept has surfaced before in more tentative forms but the Finnish designer Lasse Oiva and London designer Amos Field Reid have taken it to a sophisticated level. To a point where they are now looking for an industrial producer for their invention that has won the Deutsche Bank Award 2012 (Design) and placed second at the 2012 Pininfarina Design Contest.
Just five seconds of pedaling the trike will grind enough for a double shot while a camp stove heats the water and steam than powers the espresso machine. The designers are also working on a way to generate their own fuel by repurposing the used coffee grounds.
We think that Velopresso would be perfect for events, camping areas or any other location where a good espresso is absolutely necessary, even if electricity is not available. - Tuija Seipell
It is not often that we see an extensive series of images depicting the visual and physical interpretations of a restaurant brand and we think: Wow. These are ALL great!
But that was the case with El Montero. It is a restaurant located in the city of Saltillo in the Mexican state of Coahuila, not far from the Texan border. The surrounding area is desert and the visual and culinary style of the restaurant reflect this.
The town itself is nicknamed both the Athens of Mexico (for its history and concentration of intellectuals) and the Detroit of Mexico for the automobile assembly plants of Mercedes Benz, General Motors and Chrysler. Seems odd that one city could be both an Athens and a Detroit, but that’s what we are told.
As always, we fall in love with dualities and juxtapositions. We like the combination of sophistication and aged materials, contemporary and historical, dark and light. One cannot miss the fantastic, custom-created chandelier consisting of more than 4 kilometers of chain.
Or the cactus forest of the roomy terrace. Or the great combination of an exposed old-stone wall with ornate gold detailing.
The branding and interior design of El Montero were developed by Anagrama, a multi-disciplinary creative agency located in San Pedro Garza García in the state of Nuevo León. - Tuija Seipell
We like the fresh, unpretentious and happy look of the temporary Movement Café and performance space built next to the DLR station in Greenwich, South East London. It was constructed in 16 days to be ready for the opening of the Olympics.
It is located at the gateway to the Olympic borough, on Greenwich Industrial Estate, currently being redeveloped by the Cathedral Group. The Café was designed by British designer and artist Morag Myerscough and he collaborated with poet and tweeter Len Sissay.
Sissay's poem of tweets is now on the hoarding on the site, but it will be eventually set into the road as a permanent ode to the site. - Bill Tikos
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
There is something mouth-wateringly yummy and creamily liquid going on in the interior of Cioccolato, a bakery boutique in Monterrey, Mexico. The designers aimed for a Willy Wonka factory feel of slight madness, and we think they’ve succeeded.
The new shop focuses on custom desserts and special events, and it is a specialized spin-off concept of the existing, fairly traditional Cioccolato pastry and cake brand.
The designers of the new concept are Savvy Studio Savvy-Studio.net of San Pedro Garza García, Nuevo León, México. One of the main concerns of the design team was to ensure clear differentiation of the new concept, without confusing the brands current customers.
The gooey concept evokes cravings of sweet sugary treats and thick whipped cream, strong chocolate and colourful candies, feather-light macaroons and juicy cupcakes – anything sweet and happy and festive.
Our favourite is the white table with one leg formed by dripping something, perhaps jam or some other irresistible filling. Chocolate drips off shelves and the seats seem to be made of licorice and ice cream.
Savvy Studio was in charge of the entire rebranding concept, from visual identity to interior design and packaging. Savvy is a multi-disciplinary studio involved in industrial design, architecture, graphic design, marketing and communications. 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.