Thursday Salute to Originals: Whimsical Design at Le Nid
Flip through any contemporary design magazine and you’ll quickly discover that ambient lighting, luxurious materials, and dark, intimate spaces are among the top trends in hospitality design. Jean Jullien, a French graphic designer working in London, rebels against traditional design techniques with Le Nid, a quirky French establishment that replaces leather chairs with eggshells, and sleek granite counters with…a bird? Literally translating to “The Nest,” the combination of whimsical details and a scenic view overlooking the city of Nantes guarantee that we will all be flocking to Le Nid!
Designed as part of an art festival called “A Journey to Nantes,” Jullien’s simple yet humorous graphic style made him the ideal candidate for the installation, whose theme was to be determined by the artist. Jullien chose to take a spin on the cozy, intimate atmosphere of lounges by creating a literal “nest” for people to visit. Working with the unconventional design scheme required Jullien to divide his attention equally between the art, the bar, and the view to create a space that’s just as sophisticated as it is unique.
Because Le Nid is located 144 meters in the air at the top of the Tour Bretagne, panoramic vistas of the historic city serve as the backdrop to the modern bar. Being a native to the Nantes region, Jullien placed a balanced emphasis on the impressive view and the interior design so that the unusual décor would not overshadow the beauty of the city. A 100 meter outdoor terrace runs along the perimeter of the entire bar, giving guests an opportunity to step outside and sip on their cocktail above one of the most beautiful cities in France.
The bar itself is located within the body of the oversized bird, whose neck extends 40 meters in length around the sitting area. While the neck remains static, the massive head actively engages guests; the eyes actually open and close regularly to show if the bird is awake or sleeping! Jullien traded traditional tables and chairs for cracked eggshells with bright yellow-orange seat cushions representing yolks.
To complete the overall experience of Le Nid, Jullien enlisted the help of his brother, Nicholas, to create a music soundtrack designed to enhance the views, sounds, and character of the space. Nicholas is a member of Niwouinwouin!, a French electronic band whose distinctive sounds are a perfect match for the idiosyncratic bar. The Le Nid experience is truly one of a kind; designers around the world can take notes from Jullien’s bold, ambitious, and eccentric style. A little whimsy never hurt anyone!