Jouin Manku’s Alain Ducasse at Morpheus Blends European Savoir Faire and Asian Sensibility
The south corridor curves around to the more formal Alain Ducasse at Morpheus, and a return to Jouin Manku’s favored palette of neutral beiges, grays, black, and cream. “And we love glass,” Manku states. “But the question was how to push it further. We were looking for something elegant, but not too tech.” The answer was found in a trip to Prague, purveyor of Bohemian glass, and the result is a stunning other-worldly dreamscape: a translucent forest of LED-lit blown-glass cylinders suspended from the ceiling and walls and reflected in pools of water that meander throughout.
It’s a ravishing exploit, a mélange of European savoir faire and Asian sensibility. Clustered in groups of varied widths and lengths, the ethereal curtains of light resemble wind chimes, and as the LEDs flicker they sometimes seem to be in motion, but in fact are stationary and silent. “Luxury can be too serious,” Manku says with a grin. “Even beauty can be cold or boring. But we had a lot of fun with this one.” Jouin adds, “It’s rare to have so much room to play.”
At the entrance to the kitchen, a multi-level vitrine displays Ducasse’s personal collection of cooking vessels, utensils, and glassware he’s found at antiques shops and flea markets, and they’re actually used to prepare some of the menu items. Mediterranean gamberoni en gelée with gold caviar or crispy suckling pig with morel mushrooms anyone? Jouin classifies this Macau kitchen as “Ducasse’s best ever.” And for the first time the firm also worked within the kitchen space itself to set up the chef’s table, enclosed in a shell of privacy glass and furnished with a massive oak table that seats 10.
The entrance to the chef’s table is via a concealed door that opens into a small private wine reserve stocked with grand crus. Here is where the restaurant’s signature artwork is hidden away for the privileged few: An entire wall is taken over by artist François Houtin’s black-and-white mural of an imaginary composite of French wine regions.
More mystery is found in three dining suites among the main tables, each with a hidden private alcove. Guests can repair to their own late-night nook for coffee, brandy, or just plain privacy.
Jouin and Manku seem to have a theory that Macau’s good vibes should always have visitors smiling, and one little gimmick of theirs should rightly do the trick. Long ago, when suspicion arose that the earth was round, it was thought that Westerners might drill straight down through the center and pop out on the opposite side in China. Here, in this bit of France on the Pearl River Estuary, they offer a decidedly more Galllic conceit—a pair of high-tech tables in small private waiting alcoves off the entrance play trompe l’oeil with layered glass and lasers that mimic a nocturnal view from beneath the Eiffel Tower.
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Project Team: Marion Guerry; Aude-Marine Beuzelin; Tania Cohen; Audrey Krukoff; Bruno Pimpanini; Julien Lizé; François Isone: Jouin Manku. Leigh & Orange: Architect of Record. Isometrix: Lighting Consultant. Pat Davie: General Contractor.
Product Sources: From Top: Agencement Paul Champs; Philippe David: Custom Table (Waiting Area). Techniques Transparentes: Custom Glass Wall, Custom Desk (Reception). Pierre-Yves Le Floc’h: Custom Tables, Custom Banquettes, Custom Chairs (Dining Room). Étains De Lyon: Custom Table (Wine Cellar). Rinck: Custom Table (Private Dining). Throughout: Lasvit: Custom Glass Light Fixtures. Tai Ping: Custom Carpet.