Dezeen Magazine

Tutu lights at Cafe Constance in Montreal

Tutu lights populate Montreal's Cafe Constance by Atelier Zébulon Perron

Pink pendant lights resembling dancers' skirts hang from the ceiling of this cafe by Atelier Zébulon Perron at a Montreal ballet school.

Cafe Constance is located in the downtown Wilder Building, home to Les Grands Ballets Canadiens and named in tribute one of the organisation's former leaders, Constance Pathy.

Cafe Constance walnut bar
Cafe Constance was designed as a theatrical experience within the contemporary building's lobby

The 1,400-square-foot (130-square-metre) space occupies the contemporary building's lobby. It is used both for social gatherings for the artists and employees, and as a reception venue during and after functions or performances.

"Maintaining apropos ambiances through the space's transitions from coffee shop by day, to more cocktail-oriented functions in the evening influenced Atelier Zébulon Perron's design philosophy," said the design studio in a statement.

View towards the bar
A canopy above the bar and pendant lights help to create a more intimate scale

"But the main focus was on creating something truly warm and whimsical in the heart of a contemporary institutional building," the team added.

In contrast to the large expanses of glazing and concrete finishes of the building, Atelier Zébulon Perron opted for rich materials like walnut, velvet and brass. Wooden screens wrap the cafe, partially shielding it from view while creating intrigue for patrons and passersby.

Walnut table and bar stools
Wooden screens wrap the seating area to create intrigue

"We adopted a theatrical approach in order to build a sort of spectacle that is really quite literal," said studio founder Zébulon Perron.

"The idea was to create something that seems completely out of place, and that captivates the imagination in a strange and wonderful way," he said.

Walnut bar and golden lamp
Materials like walnut and brass were chosen to contrast the concrete interior

A canopy above the bar area helps to bring the tall ceilings down to a more human scale.

Similarly, a series of pleated pendants are gracefully suspended from thin wires above the seating area, at a height that helps create a more intimate setting.

These custom-designed lamps, each a slightly different shape, are made from the same blush-toned crinoline fabric as a dancer's tutu.

Floral-patterned wallpaper, upholstery and carpets, as well as golden lamps topped with tasseled shades, create the impression of a staged scene from another era.

Brass lamp detail
Details like wallpaper, upholstery and lighting add drama to the space

"The tongue-in-cheek approach to Cafe Constance aimed at creating a fun and fantastical space within the more austere backdrop of the building's contemporary architecture," Perron said.

"That play on contrasts extends to the design within the space as well, with hints of Victorian elements and boudoir intimacy animated by intricate colours, patterns and light fixtures."

Custom crinoline lamps
Lamps were custom designed from crinoline fabric used to make tutus

The designer founded the eponymous interiors studio in 2008, and has also completed a restaurant at Montreal's Four Seasons hotel.

Other recently completed hospitality interiors in the city include the plant- and mirror-filled Tiramisu by Menard Dworkind, and La Firme's bright and airy Melk Cafe.

The photography is by Alex Lesage.

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