103 PARIS. URBAN JUNGLE
Paris is going wild for the tropical vintage look. The young, up-and-coming decorators Hugo Toro and Maxime Liautard are blazing the jungle trail for this trend that blends stylish 1950s retro with a teeming rain forest of bright colours and foliage. Klay Saint Sauveur, a brand new restaurant near the Centre Pompidou museum is the duo’s first major project. The decor gracefully mixes the colours of Miami’s art deco district and Florida’s tropical marshlands with the feel of Old England of certain West Coast country clubs. The owners Arthur and Franck-Elie Benzaquen immediately liked the idea. The brothers, who also own the adjacent exclusive sporting club Klay, gave the designers carte blanche. «The incredible atmosphere that they proposed won us over», Arthur Benzaquen said. Hence, Toro and Liautard were set free to design nearly everything: furniture, carpets, lamps, staff uniforms and even the menu’s graphics. «The only furnishings that they didn’t create were the Hans J. Wegner chairs and the Verner Panton Panthella lamps, both design classics». The rest of the space bursts with ideas and creative solutions. Many are worth copying even for the home, beginning with walls painted a malachite green that contrast well with the light grey walls, covered with an special faux-marble paint. Yet the designers wanted even more so they called the globe-trotting Parisian painter Julien Colombier, who happens to be a friend. He created a mural of overlapping leaves that seem to creep down from the ceiling. Other flourishes that add a colonial feel to the scene are the ecru banquettes, leopard-print pillows, carpets decorated with exotic animals and cane chairs. The bar made of Carrara marble is supported by a series of upright bamboo reeds in brushed brass «that transport you instantly into an alligator-infested jungle», said Arthur, with a chuckle. Brass dominates in the wall and table lamps while the ceiling fans’ blades are actually woven rush fans. Scattered throughout, not surprisingly, are plants galore, from ficus to split-leaf philodendrons. The menu has a similar fresh, healthy feel, thanks to the expertise of Franck Bonarel, former restaurant manager at Domaine des Andéols in Provence, part of chef Alain Ducasse’s empire. «Our dishes are healthy and flavourful. For lunch, the Superbowls are popular, a one-course, high-calorie meal. It’s the latest trend from Los Angeles that we’ve reinterpreted. Try the Beluga-ga Superbowl – avocado, alfalfa, feta, walnuts and Thai-style dressing», Bonarel recommended. For dinner, chef Antonella prepares linguini with clams, tempura, creamy soups and much more, including a wide selection of vegan and gluten-free dishes. Smoothies are available and those seeking an adult beverage won’t be disappointed with the cocktails, particularly the Big Sur, a delightful blend of Tanqueray gin, Campari bitters, blood orange juice, lemon and basil. Finally, Klay Saint Sauveur has one other quirky element. At the entrance to the downstairs bathrooms, Toro and Liautard had desperately wanted a neon sign with a message for the customers, yet they couldn’t decide on it. One day while pondering what to write, the song ‘Let’s Get Physical’ by Olivia Newton-John came on the radio. Discover the mysterious message by dining at the restaurant and swinging by the bathrooms.
Klay Saint Sauveur is serving style and substance. The first major project of the firm Toro & Liautard combines Miami-style art deco, country club class and healthy eats