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Sometimes the simplest statements are the most radical. Super-chef Alain Ducasse shocked the dining world when he announced he’d be revamping his marquee gastronomic temple—Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée, holder of two Michelin stars—by jettisoning all meat from the menu. Instead, he would offer a stripped-down haute cuisine composed entirely of seafood, grains, and vegetables. To oversee an equally stunning overhaul of the soaring colonnaded dining room, the centerpiece of the century-old Hôtel Plaza Athénée in Paris, Ducasse brought back Interior Design Hall of fame member Patrick Jouin, who has created and re-created the restaurant and the hotel’s Le bar: three iterations since 1999.
Jouin now works in partnership with architect Sanjit Manku, and this time their firm, Jouin Manku, was given total freedom to renovate—and innovate. They were furthermore given the opportunity to work simultaneously on both spaces, which share the front of the hotel’s ground level on the Avenue Matignon, the capital’s toniest shopping street. With the inclusion of futuristic forms, both spaces morphed into places unlike any others on earth. Most important was to evoke a sense of wonder. As Jouin puts it, “You are taken into a world of beauty, poetry, and surprise.”
The bar certainly does just that. Jouin Manku employed a dramatic intervention to captivate guests on arrival: a mass of blue fabric swirling beneath the ceiling vault. “It’s a troubled, stormy sky, a bit romantic and dark,” Jouin says.
Optical effects continue in the restaurant, where the overall look is brighter but no less intriguing. Grouped on the carpet just inside the entrance, three mysterious crescents of mirror-polished stainless—the product of 3,500 hours of largely manual labor—turn out to encircle three tables, giving them a little privacy.
At the restaurant Alain ducasse au Plaza Athénée, french oak forms both the tops of the custom tables and the outer shell of a canopy creating a booth.