Fancy a coffee in the Grand Budapest Hotel, or lunch inside the mind of wild child British artist Damien Hirst? What about a foray into the Lynchian world of Twin Peaks? Forget your regular barista or run of the mill café, there’s a world of cafes out there created either by, or in homage to, some of the biggest creative visionaries of our time and we pick here some of the best
From swinging bubble chairs and underground libraries to medicine pill-shaped chairs and 1950s pinball machines, there’s a host of immersive venues that allow diners to live any artistic or film fantasy. Each venue encapsulates a unique dining experience, going above and beyond to deliver a captivating and unique insight into an artist’s own creation. So whether it’s feeling up close and personal to a major artist, or stepping into the world of a film director such as Wes Anderson, here’s our list of the top five restaurants and cafes created or designed by film directors and artists.
The Budapest Café, Chengdu, China
Pastel green walls, pink velvet accents and marble countertops create an ambiance that is subtle, yet vibrant. The Budapest Café, located in the Sichuan province of China, features clean geometric interiors (by Melbourne-based interior and product design company Biasol) to create an homage to quirky director Wes Anderson’s iconic aesthetic. Here, those after a caffeine fix will find a focus on edges, arches and symmetry a la Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel. With a pink ball pit in the centre of the room, a swinging bubble chair, neon signs and zig-zag bannisters, the whimsical feeling of nostalgia is complete.
Café Mollien, Paris, France
Think Parisian palatial style meets cutting edge design with a touch of sci-fi: housed in architect Hector Lefuel’s ‘Pavillon Mollien’, in the Louvre museum’s Denon Wing, visitors can rest museum-tired feet amongst high ceilings and a terrace that overlooks the famous Louvre pyramid. Cafe Mollien enhances the museum’s period designs through modern restoration, including the recent addition of large space age-like acrylic, pink, egg-shaped light fixtures by French designer Mathieu Lehanneur. Their warm golden glow bounces off the café’s bronze walls, brightening its 66 white tables and chairs. Lehanneur’s work brings together design, science, art and technology to achieve maximum welfare for human beings. For example, Lehanneur’s Daylight Dome was designed to recreate natural daylight within the heart of a retail store and his project Bucky’s Nightmare is a take on architect and author Buckminster Fuller’s work, in which science fiction is made into real architecture. The leather geometric structure re-configures under pressure allowing it to perfectly support each part of the human body.
Bar Luce, Milan, Italy
A tribute is one thing, but the Milanese Bar Luce was designed by film director Wes Anderson himself and is named after one of his early short films. Its arched ceilings are inspired by the famous glass ceiling of Milan’s Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, the world’s oldest shopping archade and an iconic architectural symbol of Milan. Inspired by the philosophy of enjoying all aspects of life, Anderson has incorporated his love for eating, drinking, talking and reading to create the ideal place for him to “spend his own non-fictional afternoons in” Cue 1950s and 60s pastel colours, veneered wooden panelling, pinball machines and jukeboxes.
Pharmacy 2, London, UK
Artist Damien Hirst is no stranger to the restaurant scene, and Pharmacy 2 is the second iteration of (you guessed it), Pharmacy, which closed in 2003. An artistic collaboration with Mark Hix, Pharmacy 2 is located in Hirst’s Newport Street Gallery in South London. While it serves British and European food, the dining experience is less about what’s on your plate and more about the setting. Think windows etched with DNA strands, an over-the-counter themed stainless steel bar, chairs in the shape of pills and medicine bags and hospital waste as table decorations. Hirst achieves his dream of showcasing his work to the public, by displaying some of his most famous pieces, including butterfly works and, of course, some of his medicine cabinets.
Silencio, Paris, France
A private members club created by American filmmaker and artist David Lynch in 2011, Silencio plays on the senses as only Lynch can. Located in Paris’s trendy Montmartre area in a 700m2 underground space, it has several rooms, each encapsulating a different atmosphere. Stepping down into its depths immerses you in Lynch’s iconic moody aesthetic. From an intimate library to a 24-seat cinema, each room reflects Lynch’s architectural style, with a strong focus on golds, coppers and neo. This was achieved through a collaboration with designer Rapheal Navot, and all the materials used were made-to-measure by international craftsmen. Lynch was inspired by 17th-century Parisian salons and 18th-century London clubs and brings to life the interior world of one of cinema’s most original minds.
Words by Saleema Moumene
Main image courtesy of Attilio Maranzano & Fondazione Prada. Images courtesy of @archisearch, @cloveraccessories, @travel_modus, @maisonnue, @p.ippi @nefeli_go, @pharmacy2_official, @paulineartgallery and @mrgreen7777