When ordinary becomes spectacular

An ephemeral restaurant on the rooftops of Paris, with a set design by designer-artist Harry Nuriev

We Are Ona @ Paris Internationale
We Are Ona @ Paris Internationale

The Paris week devoted to contemporary art and collectible design, which began yesterday (Paris+ par Art Basel, Design Miami/ Paris and other fairs and initiatives), opens up often unknown places to the public. Such is the case of a former telephone and postal exchange, erected in 1911 to a design by architect François Le Coeur, a concrete box embellished with a brick facade and glass and wrought-iron details, currently being renovated for a change of use.

The building exterior – Photo © Bibliophyl, Wikimedia Commons

Here the Paris Internationale contemporary art fair is holding its ninth edition, with an exhibition design by Swiss firm Christ & Gantenbein. At the top of the building, on two floors overlooking the city, a surprise: the pop-up restaurant curated by We Are Ona where the set design – an integral part of the dining experience – has been commissioned from designer/artist Harry Nuriev.

The pop-up showcases the back of the kitchen, moving forward into the spotlight, visible and accessible, as a field for artistic experimentation open to all. The kitchen is revealed through a minimalist installation that synchronizes off-screen and real-life experiences where elegance meets the primal like in Dirty Dishes, a limited series of irreverent plates designed by Harry Nuriev and Luca Pronzato (founder of We Are Ona) for the occasion. These creations also inaugurate a tableware collection born of WE ARE ONA collaborations.

Dalad Kambhu – Photo © Ilya Kagan
I tavoli comuni al settimo piano dell’edificio

In the installation, concrete and metal come together in a minimalist aesthetic. The superfluous has been rejected, annihilated. All the furniture is made of stainless steel, sourced directly from professional kitchens. On the roof, numerous stainless steel seats allow visitors to enjoy the panoramic view. A space perched over the rooftops of Paris and unknown.

“I drew inspiration from the backstage of restaurants, where everything unfolds: the kitchens. I brought to the forefront this mystical place where magic happens”, explains Harry Nuriev. “I enjoy transforming and revealing what is typically hidden, creating a space that you’re “not supposed” to see.”

Luca Pronzato, fondatore di We Are Ona – Photo © Ilya Kagan
Harry Nuriev – Photo © Benjamin Baccarani courtesy of Carpenters Workshop Gallery

The menu is curated by young star chef Dalad Kambhu, who offers a contemporary interpretation of traditional Thai gastronomy.

For all images, unless otherwise stated © Benoit Florençon