December 31, 2019

10 Questions With… Friedmann & Versace

Two creative minds are behind Friedmann & Versace, an interior architecture studio based in Paris and founded in 2018. Virginie Friedmann and Delphine Versace combine their talent and vision to design restaurants, bars, hotels, boutiques, homes, and pieces of furniture, which all reflect a sophisticated art de vivre. With every project (including eateries Bistrot Rougemont and Baby Doll), the duo creates a dialogue between past and present, and tells a story through the mix of colors, materials, and objects from different styles and periods. Located in the French capital, Friedmann & Versace’s newest restaurants—Matilda and La Riviera—each have their own strong personality. Yet both are chic and contemporary, warm and elegant. Interior Design spoke to the duo about their concept of narrative design, people in the industry who inspire them, and how restaurant design has changed over the past decade. 

Interior Design: Could you tell us how the Matilda project started? What is the story behind?

Delphine Versace: Our client invited us to visit a space where he wanted to open an Italian restaurant and to honor the name of his Italian grandmother Matilda. The light that came through the large windows and the Art Nouveau wooden decorations brought immediately our interest. We wanted to keep these features.

ID: What was your overall design goal for Matilda?

Virginie Friedmann: We wanted to create a poetic place, with a sense of time and a dreamlike aspect. We played with different eras and styles, and were inspired by the well-known Milanese reception rooms, frescoes erased by time, and the elegance of Italian furniture.

Matilda restaurant in Paris. Photography courtesy of Friedmann & Versace. 

ID: What was the inspiration behind La Riviera restaurant? And what was the biggest challenge? 

DV: Riviera is a promise of endless summer, a trip to the Mediterranean. It evokes the Mediterranean coast, the smell of pines, enamelled, raw and varnished terracotta, the architecture of cruise ships, and the creative world of Jean Cocteau. The biggest challenge was to create an immersive place that provides a real change of scenery while we are in a neighborhood next to Gare du Nord in Paris where there is a lot of traffic and no sea on the horizon!

ID: How have restaurant design trends changed over the past 10 years?

VF: Finding the right design for their restaurants has become a real concern for the owners. Our approach is focused on narrative design. We write a different story for every project. Our goal is to create lifestyle places with a soul, a true personality. The challenge is to make sure that the story is understood, coherent, and perceptible through the whole experience. That’s the reason why, beyond the decoration of a place, we like to work also on graphic elements—such as the logo, menu, and signage—and the choice of tableware and music. 

La Riviera restaurant in Paris. Photography courtesy of Friedmann & Versace. 

ID: How do you think French design culture impacts you?

DV: French design is very rich and varied. We love Charlotte [Perriand] furniture, Roger Capron ceramic paintings, and Madeleine Castaing patterns.

ID: What is your first memory of design? 

VF: The Gabriella Crespi bronze and rattan lamp on the desk of my aunt.

DV: The Charlotte Perriand furniture for La Cité Radieuse (by Le Corbusier) in Marseille.

Matilda restaurant in Paris. Photography courtesy of Friedmann & Versace.

ID: Can you name people in the industry who inspire you?

VF: Janine Abraham and Dirk Jan Rol—their great relationship, sense of composition, the importance they gave to traditional know-how, their common creations as the rattan sun chair, the architecture of their house.

DV: Dimore Studio for the singularity of their projects, the combination of colors, the mix of styles and eras.

ID: In what kind of home do you live?

VF: A Haussmannian apartment in Paris with big windows, velvet elements, lamps in shades of green, a mix of contemporary and vintage pieces of furniture, ceramics, candles, and plants.

Matilda restaurant in Paris. Photography courtesy of Friedmann & Versace.

ID: What are your upcoming projects?

VF: We are working on two new restaurants in Paris. They will open by the end of the year: one in the 8th arrondissement, which evokes the winter garden of an Estancia, and the other in the 13th that we designed as a warm and elegant country house with a fireplace. In 2020, we will complete two houses near Paris, a skin studio concept, and a showcase at Hotel Lutetia.

ID: What are you reading?

DV: We both read a lot of lifestyle magazines and I’ve just read (again) “A Room of One’s Own” by Virginia Woolf.

Matilda restaurant in Paris. Photography courtesy of Friedmann & Versace. 
 Matilda restaurant in Paris. Photography courtesy of Friedmann & Versace. 
La Riviera restaurant in Paris. Photography courtesy of Friedmann & Versace. 
La Riviera restaurant in Paris. Photography courtesy of Friedmann & Versace.

Read more: 10 Questions With… Rebecca Benichou

Recent DesignWire