As someone interested in the culinary crossroads of food and design, I believe that you eat with your eyes first. This holds true to the food, of course, but also of the concept and branding of a restaurant. Dining is a sensory experience from the decor down to your plate.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with French designer, Marc Chami, about a restaurant he helped to brand in the 9th District of Paris. Our conversation inspired a new column for the blog, Restaurant Concepts, where I’ll speak to designers and restauranteurs around the world about the process of conceptualizing restaurants. But first, check out Marc’s work at the jump.
MAS: What type of restaurant is Strogoff and in what district of Paris?
Marc: Strogoff is a restaurant specializing in a French specialty called tartare. It is based in “Le Quartier du Faubourg Poissonniere” in the heart of Paris.
What was the assignment you were given?
I was asked to work on the Art Direction around the concept of tartare. This involved finding a fun and catchy name, a visual identity, an interior decor concept as well as graphic branding to pull everything together.
The idea of the name came from a novel called Michel Strogoff , written by the famous french author Jules Verne. Michel Strogoff was the messenger of the Tsar and his mission was to warn him of barbaric invasions coming from central Asia. It is in this book that we can find the first description of a dish that resembles the tartare as we know it today. Considering this, Strogoff seemed so suitable for this restaurant.
What was the inspiration for the design and logo?
I found inspiration at the Musee des Arts Premiers in Paris. They have an incredible collection of tunics, “vaisselles” and fabrics from the Mongol Empire in Eastern Europe. My process included a detailed study of a culture and transforming ancient culture and traditions into modern graphic design. Basing myself on the scripts of that era, I designed a unique typography. The ‘S’ can be used as a pattern that can be found in the logo itself.
What was the inspiration of the interior?
For the interior decoration my inspiration was a mix of the “Old Easterm Europe” and the legendary Orient Express.
The chandelier in the entrance reminds of a Mongolian yurt. The raw materials refer to the tartare itself, which is a dish made of uncooked meat. To me, it was very important to create a place that felt authentic but still had an original feel to it.
What’s your favorite designed restaurant in Paris and NYC?
I would say that in the past years Paris has been inspiring by New York City. So much that it started to lose its’ authenticity, and a lot of places had started putting more effort into the decor than the actual food. It is important to offer great design as well as quality food. Today’s popular restaurants are those that specialize in one single product. Paris has a brasserie culture that exports itself well and will continue to do so in my opinion.
As a true Parisian I like to go to unique and charming places. One of my favorite places to eat at is the Hotel Amour or the Hotel Grand Amour. Their interior courtyard is filled with lush greenery. It must be my romantic side that loves that place!
Marc is a graphic designer currently working in New York City. You can view his other projects here. Merci, Marc!