May 9, 2014
(c) Thomas Duval
(c) Thomas Duval

Since their first forays into the hospitality industry back in 1986, Fabienne and Philippe Amzalak have provided the heart and soul to a series of high-end dining experiences, each time collaborating with some impressive names from the worlds of both gastronomy and design. Having previously worked with the likes of Philippe Starck on the redesign of critically lauded Parisian venues Bon and Ma Cocotte, the husband and wife team turned to another star of contemporary design, Tom Dixon, for their new project Éclectic.

The Amzalak’s concept for Éclectic – to bring together a mix of clientele, from the midday shopper to the business luncher, and to serve up a selection of culinary styles  – is well suited to Tom Dixon’s design aethetic, particularly his 2012 collection of objet trouvé style pieces, also called Eclectic and which feature throughout the new restaurant.

The project was taken on by Design Research Studio, the interior design practice set up by Dixon in 2002. In constructing a visual identity for the venue, they applied their philosophy of connecting design with architecture, and of creating links between the designed environment and its target audience.

Éclectic is located within the Beaugrenelle Centre, a 1970s shopping complex that re-opened in October last year following a multimillion Euro redevelopment. Sitting alongside the Seine in the 15th Arrondissement of Paris, a short walk from the Tour Eiffel, the Beaugrenelle is a trio of interconnected buildings occupied by mid- to high-end brands. The restaurant occupies the sixth floor of the Magnetic building, in a space that looks out towards the Seine.

While much of the Centre has been given a modern makeover of clean, white surfaces, Design Research Studio have created a scheme for Éclectic that actively celebrates the ’70s structure, stripping the space back to its concrete bones. This brutalist aesthetic is balanced by the generous use of polished brass to give the interior a golden glow of glamour. This theme is used to great effect in the wall detailing that frames the view through to the kitchen: an interlocking pattern of hexagonal shapes (a nod to the seventies’ love of geometric and modular design) that covers large areas like outcrops of columnar basalt – a seam of metal set within the concrete ‘rock’ of the building.

This hexagonal motif is repeated throughout the venue often offset by circular patterns, cutting into or encompassing their interlocking geometry. It is seen in the shape and arrangement of the private dining booths and, most noticeably, in the clusters of Tom Dixon Cell pendants that hang above selected tables in the main dining room.

The Cell is constructed from layers of minutely etched, polished brass, folded into a geometric, elongated bell with hexagonal cross section. The linear perforations in its sides cast an intricate pattern of shadows on the surrounding walls, floors and ceilings. When multiple pendants are used, this effect is heightened as stripes of light and shadow intersect and overlap.

Circular acoustic panels, which hang overhead in the extended height created by stripping back all ceiling surfaces, provide a base plate from which the lighting clusters hang, framing them and accentuating their presence.

These acoustic panel-and-pendant installations were created in collaboration with UK decorative lighting specialist Chelsom.

Having worked successfully together on the ongoing Mondrian London hotel project, Design Research Studio commissioned Chelsom to produce the circular ceiling rafts. In total, ten pieces of varying sizes were installed. Constructed from noise reducing foam and grey flocked to fit with the look of the room, each raft features concealed LED uplights, used to pick out sections of the ceiling above.

Chelsom also helped create Écletic’s chandelier centrepiece. 124 gold Cell pendants are suspended from a black, powder-coated steel frame. By increasing the drop length of these pendants in concentric rings, they form a metallic floret of light, interlocking neatly together, as was always intended in their initial design. All Cell pendants are fitted with a brass-tipped Megaman Crown Brass 7 Watt 230v lamp, specifically designed for the collection to provide the energy savings of an LED along with the required light dispersion and appropriate aesthetic appeal.

Further Tom Dixon lighting can be found throughout the restaurant.

A row of Bell table lights runs between the back-to-back banquette seating in one section of the room. Bell comprises a pair of domed shapes – one suspended over the other – formed from chrome plated pressed steel. Highly polished to give it a mirror-like surface, it reflects (and therfore adopts) the character of the surrounding space.

Polished metal pieces, particularly copper and brass, are used extensively throughout Éclectic, such as the Base Copper Floor Light. Part of Tom Dixon’s Base Collection it combines a highly polished copper shade with a traditional matt textured black cast iron base.

More iridescent than shiny, the roughly finished metallic forms of the Lustre collection hang above the window seating. Each pendant in the range is handmade in a family-run factory in the Netherlands. Its distinctive sheen is created using a ‘top-secret glaze containing minerals and precious metals’.
A row of shallow copper-effect shades run alongside the front window of the restaurant. Custom designed by Design Research Studio, they are produced from vacuum metalised polycarbonate.

Eclectic in name and nature, the venue’s mix of the stark and the shiny, the stone cold and the golden-glowing, make it an incredibly successful French first for Design Research Studio.