Jouin-Manku Creates A New Look For An Illustrious Address
L’Hôtel de Paris is a mythical place – perched on the edge of the rock of Monte-Carlo, it is one of the jewels of the Riviera. A place that epitomises glamour, the jet-set and a certain hedonism linked to the Mediterranean sea and holidays. A place inextricably linked with an image of the south of France that mixes its riches, its pleasures and its flavours.
This is also the headquarters of Alain Ducasse, where his heart is, the Louis XV, where aged 33 he won his three Michelin stars. Newly renamed Alain Ducasse à l’Hôtel de Paris for its re-opening in April 2015, this is the dining room that the most famous chef in the world has entrusted to designers Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku. This project brings the mythical restaurant into the 21st century, forging a relationship between a new menu and this place of dreams.
A project signed by its energy and dynamism
Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku know Ducasse and his passion for architecture and design very well. Their collaboration is the result of an enduring friendship, illustrated by a number of exceptional projects, such as the Jules Verne or more recently Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée. It is a relationship that started in 1998 with the design of a serving plate for the Bar & Bœufin Monaco.
The project that Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku present here is particularly striking. In a dining room with such a flamboyant decor, the designers achieve to create a breath-taking energy that still remains soft for those who were already used to the charms of this historical venue. Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku have taken a subtle approach – their idea was to welcome guests as if they were invited to a private residence. In such occasions you are allowed to mingle with the exquisite details of the preparation of various parts of your delicious dishes. You are part of a ritual, because you can sneak into the kitchen; you feel the intimacy, as if you were home. This is the leading idea that gave birth to furniture design and monumental objects that fit harmoniously with the classicism of this space. They have produced much more than just an interior design. A new style of service is born, the product of lengthy discussions with Alain Ducasse. A choreographed spectacle of serving staff and furniture unfolds in front of the diners’ eyes.
Drawing the attention
Arriving at the restaurant, one’s attention is immediately drawn towards the ceiling, where an immense halo-shaped chandelier hangs. It is made by Aristide Najean using 800 pieces of Murano glass. The object places the space in suspension. This outsized ring (7.5m in diameter) glitters with a soft, magical light. Its form makes reference to the classical fresco on the ceiling above. This piece of art, painted by Marie-Félix Hippolyte Lucas in 1874 when the hotel was first built, shows a nymph surrounded by cherubs. Set within a ceiling rose, this was the initial inspiration behind Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku’s organisation of the space: a series of circles and circular objects in the middle of the space give the room a more human, less overwhelming dimension. Centrally placed beneath the chandelier, a piece of furniture known as “L’Office” (a French word that describes an important preparation place in a restaurant), made in cherry wood, opens out its metal-bladed wings so that service can begin. It is a mechanical theatre at the service of the ballet performed by the front-of-house team. This object opens up and elegantly transforms itself, all its functions part of the erstwhile hidden activity of service in the restaurant.
“L’ Office” sits on a ring of ebony in the floor that encircles a heart of black “pierre de soie”, tracing a pattern that connects the floor with the ceiling.
From this point outwards, the rest of the floor is covered in a bespoke carpet whose design evokes a stormy sky, in muted blue and deep grey, in a pattern which is neither specific nor descriptive, simply giving the impression of a storm, unpredictable and mysterious, rumbling through a calm space.
Without adjusting the past, the project introduces eminently contemporary elements to the Monte-Carlo myth, bringing in light where gilding emphasised the shadows, and suggesting lightness and fluidity of movement.
“L’Office” – a stage for the ballet
Reigning at the centre of the dining room, “L’Office” intrigues and draws the eye. It is a new tool for the front-of-house teams. Made in cherry wood, zinc plated metal and glass; it reveals its treasures via its two wings that open at each stage of service. To start, the first wing opens to reveal the bread, as well as oils and butter. Later on, the second wing reveals liqueurs and chocolates. The glassware stored at the centre is shown off by lighting that has a similar characteristic to the chandelier. This freestanding piece of equipment also controls variations in lighting around the room, which punctuate and animate the meals of the restaurant clientele.
Via this piece of exceptional micro-architecture, Alain Ducasse, Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku wanted to make visible all the preparation that usually takes place in the restaurant’s wings. By showing this activity, they are theatricalising the space, giving a face to haute-cuisine and highlighting the authenticity that is the premise of the chef’s new menu.
Providing an essential touch of modernity in this historic dining room, furniture design by Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku brings lightness to the room with its range of soft colours. Natural shades echo the tones of the marble pilasters that line the walls. Each piece of furniture is tactile and sensual, giving an immediate feeling of comfort.
Tables, with undersides’ upholstered in leather, have mirror-polished, fluted stainless-steel legs. The tables are covered with fine linen tablecloths, with navy-blue stitching picking up the colours of the carpet. The table bases house a hidden light that makes the tables appear to flow.
The chairs, upholstered by master-craftsman Pierre-Yves Le Floc’h, are in chrome and natural coloured leather, with crossed legs in chromed stainless steel and a pared-back reminiscent of summer light. Seen from behind from across the room, their backs create a geometric rhythm thanks to the slender arms that frame each seat.
The bag holder, both fun and practical, is like a leather origami and is quick and simple to use.
Service trolleys and the portable “Vaisselier”
Sleek, pared-back trolleys cross the room with elegance and add a dynamic touch to the service. The portable-Vaisselier is yet another specialised piece that allows for preparation right next to the table as well as housing all wine and beverages for each table. The “Vaisselier” is a mix of Corian ©, laquer and cherry wood that unfolds to reveal hidden inner pockets for a variety of tableware. The trolleys also bring together modern and natural materials (leather for the handles and peach-blossom marble for the top of the cheese trolley) in predominantly light colours. A magnificent silver cloche, a souvenir of the sumptuous past of the restaurant, is used for the roast trolley. With these elements that revolve around “L’Office”, Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku create a moving, fluid, and dynamic scene for a piece of choreography that brings a starred restaurant alive.
Lighting (designed by l’Observatoire International –Hervé Descottes)
Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku commissioned Hervé Descottes to design the lighting for the restaurant. Indirect lighting around the room balances natural daylighting. Looking through the central chandelier gives a magnifying-glass effect, revealing the ceiling fresco in a different light. The fresco is brought to life via a series of subtle, projected animated images. On the original marble pilasters, turn-of-the-century wall lights have metallic copper-coloured fabric shades: an elegant way to bring them up to date.
Finally, ‘curtains’ of thousands of individual threads are minutely organised by hand into shapes referencing the theatre, allowing the sunny Riviera-light into the restaurant.
Following their project for Alain Ducasse at the Plaza Athénée, re-designing the dining room for the restaurant at the Hôtel de Paris was a new challenge. How could one take the restaurant forward while preserving the image that draws people to Monaco? Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku’s approach is astonishing. As a counterpoint to 18th-century decor, they have put together a project that is much more than just an interior design, proposing a new experience for the front-of-house team and the diners in this mythical dining room. Fluidity, movement and the pursuit of pleasure are the key ideas that have guided the duo in this ambitious renovation. Their monumental designs provide a changing decor for the room throughout the meal. Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku project their way of working into the finished project: an elegant choreography where comfort and pleasure are the ultimate objectives.