|Project Name||Café Constance||Posted in||Design, Interior Design||Location||
1435 Rue de Bleury
Montréal, QC H3A 2H7Canada
|Area (sqm)||130||Completed||February 2022|
Located in the lobby of the Wilder building in downtown Montreal, home to Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal, Café Constance is as much an imaginative gathering spot for ballet enthusiasts attending the company’s productions as a relaxing spot for the company’s dancers and other employees. Local design practice Atelier Zébulon Perron conceived the venue as a whimsical Art Nouveau bistro in contrast to the building’s architectural solemnity and institutional context. "The idea was to create something that seems completely out of place”, the Atelier’s founder and lead designer Zébulon Perron says, something that “captivates the imagination in a strange and wonderful way". Swathed in blush tones, floral patterns and crinoline-like pendants, the space does exactly that, conjuring hints of a theatre dressing room and plush boudoir. Underpinned by elegance, grace and movement, Café Constance pays tribute not just to Constance Pathy, former leader of Les Grands Ballets and generous patron of the arts from whom it takes its name from, but also to the art of ballet itself.
Built in 1918 as an industrial factory, the Wilder Building was thoroughly renovated and expanded in 2017 into a modern glass-wrapped cultural centre. Determined to design a space in contrast to the building’s austere architecture, Zébulon Perron drew inspiration from Bar Luce, a café in the Fondazione Prada in Milan that American film director Wes Anderson designed in 2015 resulting in Bar Luce’s 1950s and 1960s vintage charm standing out against the contemporary sophistication of the Rem Koolhaas-revamped former industrial complex.
Going further back in time, the designer conceived Café Constance as a whimsical adaptation of a Victorian dollhouse, furnishing the space with a floral-patterned wallpaper and carpets, banquettes upholstered in lilac and teal-coloured leather and floral fabric, gold-hued tessellated lampshades, and an antique communal table sourced from England. Gracefully suspended above the space, a series of blush-hued pleated pendants further enhance the sense of romanticism as well as help to establish an intimate setting despite the building’s exceedingly tall ceiling. Each one slightly different in size, the tutu-like pendants are part of an ethereal choreography that evokes the ballet dancers’ gracefulness.
Adding to the décor’s nostalgic charm, Thonet bentwood chairs and stools echo the elegance of classic European cafés while the bar’s design alludes to a theatrical dressing room with its mirrors and marquee lights. A palette of sumptuous materials like walnut, velvet and brass, along with natural greenery, imbue the space with touches of luxury and warmth in contrast to the building’s glass, steel and concrete envelope. As Zébulon Perron ultimately explains: “The tongue-in-cheek approach to Café Constance aimed at creating a fun and fantastical space within the more austere backdrop of the building's contemporary architecture.”