“I wanted a space that looked like my dream place,” Simon Porte Jacquemus says of his new restaurant’s interiors. His dream is shared: When Oursin—Jacquemus’ second collaboration with Caviar Kaspia—opened during Paris Fashion Week in the new Galeries Lafayette Champs-Élysées, its ceramic-stacked walls quickly spread across Instagram.
Similar to the designer’s first restaurant, Cafe Citron, Oursin is completely inspired by the Mediterranean culture that Jacquemus was born into. Even the name itself (“sea urchin” in English) references his roots. “I was very inspired by the artist Valentine Schlegel’s work and architect Jacques Couelle’s house where I went on vacation for the holidays,” he adds.
To bring his fantasy space to life, Jacquemus spent over a year working with Galeries Lafayette Champs-Élysées creative director Clara Coret, planning every detail from the glasses to the chairs. (The two have known each other for ten years—they met when Cornet was a buyer at Opening Ceremony in New York.) “The main challenge was to focus on the food, trying to have something special but simple,” Jacquemus says. “That’s why I wanted to work with chef Erica Archambault.” An alum of Paris hotspots Septime and Clamato, Archambault has stacked the menu with breezy items like fried artichokes with Greek yogurt and lemon zest, and fresh figs with honey ice cream.
Still, you’d be forgiven if you visited only for the eye candy. Jacquemus personally sourced the vases, bowls, and other objects that sit inside small alcoves along two of the restaurants’ walls. To prepare for the opening, the designer gathered about 100 different ceramics; some were found in flea markets around Southern Europe, while others came from his pre-existing personal collection.
You might also notice the signature plates stationed at each table. Like small works of art, each of the 30 plates is sculpted and hand-painted to look like a different dish or food. There are peaches, cut open and splayed out, and anchovies and asparagus, neatly spaced. These ceramic creations are the result of a collaboration with the Greek ceramicist Daphne Leon, an emerging talent scouted by Jacquemus himself.
“These plates are very important because they’re are not the plate that you actually eat on,” explains Cornet of the designs. “They’re what you see when you sit at the table waiting for your actual plates.” The plates also mirror some of the fresh ingredients and dishes on the menu at Oursin.
“I am Greek myself, so the Mediterranean concept was very familiar to me, however I researched the south French cuisine traditional dishes and tried to add a bit of humor to it,” explains Leon. “I like to think of it like this: I took my summer, turned it into pottery, and sent it to Paris hoping people will enjoy it.