KE-ZU Hearts: Café Mollien by Mathieu Lehanneur

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The stakes are high when you’re designing a café that has one of the world’s most famous buildings as its setting, and one of the world’s most beautiful cities as its backdrop. But French designer Mathieu Lehanneur has proved how it’s done at Café Mollien in The Louvre in Paris with an interior scheme to complement its location, because there’s certainly no chance of competing.

The Louvre, once a royal palace, dates back to the late twelfth century, with many an architect, designer and artist having a hand in what we know as The Louvre today. Lehanneur is the latest to add his talented flourish, taking a soft and subtle approach for Café Mollien and introducing contemporary design into the historic and magnificent setting.

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“Cafe Mollien needed to be a light area, a space to breathe,” says Lehanneur. Located on the first-floor landing at the top of the sweeping stone and bronze Mollien staircase, it has high ceilings, tiled marble floors, large columns and a terrace overlooking the Cour Napoléon and Carrousel garden. There could barely be a grander setting for a café.

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Lehanneur designed an acrylic and brass-brushed lighting display that he describes as “three large pale pink eggs, light and graceful floating in the air.” The pill-shaped translucent lights and lampshades are suspended on a branch-like structure and cast a pink hue against the museum’s stone walls.

EMU’s Grace chairs in white provide elegant and comfortable seating around tables with a brushed-brass base and edge to harmonise with the lighting structure. The Grace chair, designed by Samuel Wilkinson for EMU, draws inspiration from early twentieth-century wooden furniture and has a vintage and timeless style, much like The Louvre. Minimalist and sophisticated, the collection includes a chair, armchair, table, stool and counter table, and all in aluminium it crosses the boundaries of use in indoor and outdoor settings.

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The Louvre is the world’s largest museum and a lesson in art and architecture history. Now it is also a lesson in subtle, simple and sophisticated café design. And while there are very few contemporary designers who make it into The Louvre, Lehanneur and Wilkinson can now both say they have.

You can find EMU’s Grace chairs at KE-ZU. Visit our Alexandria showroom or view the collection online. And next time you’re in Paris, don’t forget to stop by Café Mollien for a little pâtisserie after the Mona Lisa.

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