Margherita, France

Former pub St Germain in Paris, France, is the latest project from French interior designer Laura Gonzalez. As a young designer with a passion for design and cooking, she has grown into her own through Margherita restaurant standing as her ideal project with a blend of her personal passions and professional goals.

With the words ‘In Pizza We Trust’ publicised on the building’s façade, Margherita announces the cosmopolitan spirit of this contemporary brassiere. Gonzalez, in collaboration with restaurant owner Thierry Bourdoncle, converted the 900sqm space spanning across three floors, into a multifacetted restaurant. Gonzalez commented on the layout of the space: “The big challenge was that the location is enormous and quite complex to organise. Four floors and numerous smaller rooms – we needed to make the customer curious about discovering the whole restaurant. That’s why we made two bars and two pizza ovens to create different activities.”

The ground floor opens into a large bar with dining tables along the walls, where Allied Maker Convex and Orb sconces made of black antique brass shed a warm light on casual diners. The lighting scheme and interior design throughout is based on Gonzalez’s signature amber colours, producing yellow and golden lights. On a lower level, another dining area featuring Allied Maker half-moon pendants serves as a casual space to share food in a relaxed atmosphere.

The first floor then houses a second cocktail bar and pizza counter illuminated by Original BTC wall sconces, which are dimmable to carry guests through to evening cocktails. The sconces pose against Margherita’s nineteenth century Belgian brick walls, reflecting Gonzalez’s love of mixing period, modernity, classic and vintage in their eclectic and authentic combination. Custom-made pendants designed by Gonzalez’s practice Pravda Arkitect and manufactured by Crea Lum’in feature on this floor and throughout the rest of the restaurant.

Keeping with Gonzalez’s desire to maintain a casual tone to her projects, another flight of steps leads to the Kid’s Kingdom. Gonzalez commented on the need for this space: “What was most important was giving the restaurant a family feel, which is why I created the Kid’s Kingdom so that even the little ones would have a space they could share with their families.” Designed as a living area with two lounges, one features industrial coffee tables and club armchairs while the other seats guests on velvet sofas with solid wood coffee tables, giving young parents who enjoy brunch and dinner with friends a sophisticated alternative. Gonzalez described the space as “a cool area in which everyone can feel comfortable.” Inspired by industrial designs, the choice of wall coverings – panelling, bricks and roman plaster – accentuate the room’s easy atmosphere and homely decoration. “I wanted to create a timeless restaurant. We simply respected the identity of the place,” Gonzalez said of the once intimidating area that has now been restored to its natural state.

With a hunger for all things new, Margherita exemplifies Gonzalez’s ethos that “every project is a new story”. Her curiosity and ability to find inspiration in everything from fashion shows to food is demonstrated in her focus on the smaller details of a larger project, and her understanding of the importance and delicate nature of lighting. The designer maintains that trends in decorative lighting are very much aimed at the importance of crafts and the smaller parts of a larger whole. The interior is draped in Gonzalez’s signature style with a combination of antique and bespoke furniture enhanced by the gentle lighting that creates a relaxing atmosphere to be enjoyed in style. As in the making of a home, the beauty of Margherita lies in the personal detail and warmth created by light, so it stands as a place of comfort while serving as a paragon of cool.

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Pics: Francis Amiand