Palais de Tokyo


Subject : A restaurant inside le Palais de Tokyo
Adress : 116 avenue du Président Wilson 75116 Paris
Surface : 300 m²
$ : 900 K € HT
Year : may 2001
For : Eric Wapler
Team : Stéphane Maupin
Mission : complete + Design mobilier & ambiance


“The bohemian yet somewhat utilitarian mood that pervades the spaces of the Palais de Tokyo was a feeling that Maupin and Hugon wanted to capture in the restaurant. What they ‘ve come up with is a cross between a design restaurant and a down-at-heel canteen. It’s refreshing to find a host of well-considere elements in an unpretentious environment. From the outset, the duo vowed not to compete with the raw power of the existing building. Hence they avoided sophisticated spatial interventions that simply would not register when juxtaposed with the monumental architecture. The alternative was to play with basics. The 450-square-metre restaurant and 100-square-metre café and bar provide deating for a total of 240 visitors – enough bodies to give the rooms a pleasantly crowded feeling.

To ad a sense of cosiness to the tall spaces, the designers came up with huge, bulbous light and sound fixtures that resemble hovering UFOs. They would have made the colourful objects even bigger if technical restrictions hadn’t limited their lenght to 110 centimetres.
Diners can influence their immediate surroundings by raising or lowering the lamps (thus dimming or brightening the light) and by altering the volume emitted by the three built-in-speakers.

The kitchen area bordering the restaurant is exposed to full view.
The current trend that promotes the metamorphosis of service areas into visual highlights is also revealed on an inserted mezzanine, where the designers have turned toilets into destinations in their own right. The importance of these lavatories, which could be mistaken for art installations, can be gauged by the fact that they cover no less than 46 square-metres. Pulling open the mega-heavy doors clad in translucent polycarbonate, guests discover a veritable exhibition of sanitary contraptions from around the world.
The designers are now the proud owners of an extensive reference library on toilet customs worlwide.

In any case, Maupin and Hugon have made a valuable contribution by showing restraint where appropriate and honing in on small details that leave a big impression.

Chris Scott
Frame 38 may/june 2004