Drouant Fine Restaurant Has Reopened – Interior Design by Fabrizio Casiraghi
Italian architect and interior designerFabrizio Casiraghi has redesigned the fine restaurantDrouant in Paris tasked with updating its art deco codes. Considered one of the city’s jewels, the historical establishment recently reopened in time to host the Prix Goncourt, a prestigious french literary ceremony held in one of its private salons since 1914.
Originally, the Dourant, which was a simple tobacconist bar, is steeped in french heritage. This fine restaurant was turned into a gourmet destination in the late 1920s, thanks in part to french designerÉmile-Jacques Ruhlmann, who is often referred to as the ‘the pope of art deco.’
Bought in 2018 by brothers Stéphane, Thierry and Laurent Gardinier, who also own french gastronomy restaurant taillevent, the pair were keen to continue the traditions of the past while establishing this fine restaurantfirmly in the present. Ruhlmann’s original staircase remains as a standout feature, renovated by Casiraghi’s team — it’s the only original feature that has withstood the test of time.
“We could have decided to make a real historical reconstitution or, and this what we decided to do, we could have decided to start from this legacy to create something modern, even contemporary but using some accents clearly ‘a la Ruhlmann’: handles, chairs, some lamps.” and “the floor is a good example to explain the process: Ruhlmann designed a multi-colored mosaic floor that we lost quite entirely,” Casiraghi said. Unfortunately too damaged to be kept in this fine restaurant, Casiraghi paid homage with a travertine mosaic floor, laid in natural, hand-cut stone instead.
In the main dining room, walnut woodwork, lacquered walls and thick fabrics create an elegant and warm feel. It contrasts the golden yellow velvet dining chairs, created from original sketches found at the chamber of commerce of Paris.
“There is always a departure point: it can be the client’s needs, the space, the history, a special context… but every time I am approaching a project I ask myself what is this departure point. and in this case, I had three of them: the Ruhlmann legacy, my clients’ specific needs and the link with the most prestigious french literature prize.’
Paying homage to the prize, Casiraghi has hung 18 winning book covers in the back stairwell – a shelf of all the winning first-edition books also appears in the mezzanine-level library inside this fine restaurant.
Casiraghi, whose career spans working for Dominique Perrault, volunteering for the Fondo Ambiente Italiano and working with dimorestudio, credits his design approach to a love of Milanese tradition: ‘I think that the real Milanese tradition where I grew up in, is all about sobriety and generosity. this is what my parents taught me: ‘be generous, be curious, experience but be always sober.’ and that is what you can clearly see in all Milanese masters work: Gabriella Crespi and Gio Ponti notably.’