Dating back to 1793, the Louvre is the world’s largest museum and one of Paris’s most historic and central landmarks. Housed in the Louvre Palace, originally built in the late 12th century, this is a museum that’s steeped in history – with an ornate and intricate building to prove it.
Like any good museum the Louvre is full of cafés and restaurants to stop off and take a break from viewing Egyptian artefacts from 4,000 BC or Leonardo da Vinci’s infamous Mona Lisa. One such spot is the Café Mollien set in the Pavillion Mollien. Built by Hector Lefuel, it links the Carrousel and the Tuileries Gardens with the Louvre and has all of the grandeur that one would expect from the building – think high ceilings, marble floors, huge columns and a grand staircase.
The café has recently been renovated by French designer Mathieu Lehanneur, effectively making it a contemporary space whilst retaining all of those original features and reawakening them. Having worked on projects for the Centre Pompidou, Audemars-Piguet and brands such as Issey Miyake and Veuve Clicquot, Lehanneur has built up an extensive portfolio, with his designs often taking a humanistic approach.
For Café Mollien, Lehanneur has arranged 66 simple white seats and tabled edged in brass around a brushed brass, acrylic lighting structure, which he describes as “three, large pale-pink eggs; luminous and translucent, floating in space and inhabiting the void that separates us from the ceiling, and act as a signal in the Parisian perspective.”
The matte white chairs and large pink lights create a modern and almost futuristic element in the café, contrasting against the historical grandeur and opulence of the original space. Lehanneur comments that the use of matte white furniture, along with the upholstered lacquered wooden benches in the alcoves of the windows, is “blasphemous in this palace of colour” and that it sets and accentuates the rhythm of the space.
To see more of Mathieu Lehanneur’s work, visit his website.
Words by Angharad Jones. Images courtesy of Mathieu Lehanneur