To shift perception of this Michelin-starred restaurant away from the traditional formality associated with fine dining to the personal and less self-regarding experience that defines the Hélène Darroze brand.
From reception to departure we tracked customer perception and response at each stage of the journey and devised ways of altering the experience. We then advised on each element from the sensory experience through to service, presentation, the display of ingredients, to the texture of the fabric of staff uniforms, while focussing on creating touchpoints that would play a more significant role in shifting brand perception.
We identified the menu as a key stage in the journey of the diner. So often overlooked by restaurants in favour of the main event, the menu is about anticipation, a moment taken to enjoy the ambience and one that arguably sets the tone for the meal. How could we amplify this moment and bring diners together, build interaction with waiting staff and generate a sense of fun without gimickry? Our response, whose design needed to reflect the simple integrity of her food is based on a solitaire board and deliberately questions the traditional mechanics of a restaurant menu. Made of oiled black walnut with the name of the core ingredient of each dish burnt into white glass marbles, it encourages diners to consider and play with these ingredients, as they discard some to the periphery and reduce their choice to the dishes they wish to eat. The Menu Solitaire empowers diners to think about their meal not in terms of courses but as a complete culinary event in which each ingredient speaks for itself. Unlike printed paper menus, the design is sustainable and allows for eleventh hour substitution (there is a bank of 45 ‘ingredients’ and one question mark).
The design gained exceptionally wide international press coverage, a D&AD 2105 award and has contributed significantly not only to re-shaping the Hélène Darroze brand but the financial success of her restaurant.