A design collaboration
Anyone who dines at the restaurant Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester in London cannot fail to be impressed by the interior design.
That design was a first collaboration between Ducasse and Jouin Manku, the architects and design agency headed by Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku.
This relationship has developed over several years and other projects, namely Alain Ducasse at the Plaza Athénée and the restaurant Le Louis XV – Alain Ducasse, at the Hȏtel de Paris, are a result of this uniquely close working partnership.
Two new Ducasse restaurants have opened in the Zaha Hadid-designed hotel, City of Dreams, Macau.
One, Voyages by Alain Ducasse, is French bistro-inspired and the other, Alain Ducasse at Morpheus, is inspired by French haute cuisine.
The interiors, once again a collaboration between Ducasse and Jouin Manku Design are striking and modern.
Perhaps a little more daring and cutting edge than the previous interiors and this indicates that the partnership has further developed, cultivating a relationship of trust and intellectual complicity.
The hotel, conceived as a monolithic block sculpted by the void from its centre, is designed to evolve as new Macau evolves.
Architects who are invited to build there continually seek to push boundaries and are actively encouraged to do so.
The new restaurants are no exception. Both are on the third floor and are accessed via the same elevator.
Guests enter a wandering imaginary space with an element of fantasy; waving walnut blades and deep moody skies are recreated to excite and confuse.
Circulations and wanderings are the key elements of the experiential scenarios.
In the preamble, two long corridors invite guests to ‘walk in the light’.
These two sequences lead diners gradually to the restaurants and are designed to make them lose their bearings.
On the floor and ceiling, the walnut floor recalls a pontoon and the play of lanterns on the walls punctuate the visitor’s journey.
In the ‘north’ the Voyages restaurant was imagined by the chef and the architects as an exploration, a journey through the great classics of French ‘bistronomy’ and an ode to the incredible aesthetics of Asia.
A walk in the light of hanging lanterns to the bar, the central articulation of the restaurant, invites guests to enjoy a moment of relaxation, over a drink.
Expertly separated from the bar by a floor and a bright orange ceiling (inspired by the colour of persimmons found on local markets) is the restaurant room, which accommodates up to 116 diners.
It is in this vibrant and modern setting that the chef revisits the menu of traditional French bistro dishes.
To the ‘south’, the architects expand the power of a dining experience and invite guests to explore the confines of a dream territory – an archipelago combining the dream of Asia with the excellence of the French tradition.
The menu of a gastronomic restaurant proposed in an architectural setting.
If Voyages plays on dynamic wanderings between its different spaces, Alain Ducasse At Morpheus adopts a more intimate ceremonial.
From the lobby, guests are accompanied by a maitre d’ along the corridors, always in the light of lanterns.
Entering the restaurant, as in a poetic forest, large clusters of extruded and blown glass ‘float’ and reflect on a mirror of water, and blur the perception of space.
Around the room, initially out of view, are three discreet ‘dining suites’ hidden behind cloudy screens of glass.
Each suite houses a bright table, which shifts at the end of the meal to reveal a ‘private living room’, nestled in a second alcove.
Guests can extend their experience within these intimate spaces to enjoy after dinner drinks.
The final stage of this privileged dining experience at Morpheus is the Chef’s table.
In order to allow guests to explore the Chef’s world as close as possible to the action the architects have added a reception area to the kitchens.
The entrance is through a back door, which opens onto a private cellar imagined as that of a traditional French wine merchant.
The Grands Crus are arranged in custom-made concrete bins.
On the wall, the whole philosophy of Alain Ducasse at Morpheus is crystallized in the work of the artist François Houtin: an imaginary landscape, inspired by the French vineyard, is drawn with the traditional Chinese method -pen and Indian ink.
Alain Ducasse is recognised as one of the world’s leading chefs, his dishes are sublime and memorable and it is fitting that they should be served within the awe inspiring interiors created by Jouin Manku.