Design synthetic, cuisine organic
Jen Renzi -- Interior Design, 1/1/2003 12:00:00 AM
When it comes to promotional material, a simple four-color brochure can't always demonstrate a firm's creative breadth. For Paris-based Reso Design, a branding-packaging-graphics studio in the Marais, an ambitious self-marketing alternative was to open a restaurant in a storefront across the street.
Dreaming up the ideal job and performing the dual role of client and designer, says Reso Design manager Philippe Di Méo, was a "great way to showcase our many talents." Practically everything at R'Aliment, from the menus to the mod seating cushioned with self-skinning injected foam, was designed by Di Méo. The 45-seat eatery has proved a savvy business move for other reasons, too. "Many creative types—designers, architects—have been relocating here," says Di Méo, "but the neighborhood lacked a hip restaurant offering healthy food in a fresh environment."
The floor-to-ceiling street-front glazing that forms one long wall of the shallow space gives airy R'Aliment the art-directed appearance of a fashionable department-store window. "We played with the narrowness to reinforce the sense of perspective," says Di Méo. Patrons enter near a takeout counter and open kitchen, then proceed to one of three zones, which increase in privacy (and decrease in height) as the space unspools. White leather-upholstered stools provide seating in the front zone; the aforementioned foam-cushioned chairs occupy the middle; and benches of high-density foam are found in an intimate nook at the rear, where Octavio Amado's citrus-hued light fixture of rip-stop nylon is suspended along one wall.
Throughout, Reso Design carefully avoided such organic-restaurant clichés as wood paneling and excessive foliage, instead favoring varnished concrete floors and tables topped in plastic laminate. "This is the city, not the countryside," says Di Méo. "Evoking a version of nature that we can't have in town would be inappropriate. At R'Aliment, nature is in the cooking!"