The French Riviera meets Paris at Folie, a new Soho restaurant by Studio KO
For years a Scandinavian aesthetic ruled the roost. It’s made the rapid, dramatic pivot towards the lustre of the 60s and 70s all the more marked – raw wood, naked bulbs and austere colour palettes traded for brazen pattern, decadent silhouettes and lavish materials.
It’s somewhat apt then that Folie, a new dining destination from Guillaume Depoix, faces off across Golden Square with Nordic Bakery. They are, by all accounts, worlds apart and a testament to the evolving thrust of design.
In concept and appearance, Folie is a meeting of two ‘Frances’: its boisterous capital and its languid south. The menu is headed by Alain Ducasse and Annabel’s alumnus, Chef Christophe Marleix, and draws from the Riviera – in particular the sun-soaked stretch between Marseille and Portofino. It’s firmly French in theme but also a championing of British produce, with ingredients sourced from small-scale UK farmers and fisherman.
But if the cuisine is a long beach holiday, the interiors are something of a city break, rooted, as Depoix notes, in the classic glamour of Paris. He partnered with Studio KO on the design, wowed by its work on projects like the Musée Yves Saint Laurent. “They don’t create ‘décor’,” he says, “they create stories.”
While inspired by the 1960s and 70s, Folie doesn’t cling slavishly to either. Instead, period references have been streamlined and refined for today. Rotund leather banquettes ripple around the restaurant’s walls while light-bouncing mirrored panels play backdrop to reflective, gold-rimmed tables. Terrazzo flooring, which took more than a month to install, features a confident, vividly-coloured motif and sidles up to an equally elaborate floral carpet designed by Codimat.
“Our wish was to create a space that is premium quality without being intimidating,” says Studio KO co-founder, Karl Fournier, “to avoid the traps of fake sophistication and without things becoming kitsch, too loud and, in the end, indigestible.”
Ultimately I want to create a destination where every hour is interesting and that is reflected in the marriage of menu, identity and design
Both in the small details and grand sweep, Fournier nods to a roll call of creative luminaries, from the geometry of Sonia Delaunay to the fashions of Cardin and Courrèges. The bar is a tribute to Italian photographer and designer, Willy Rizzo, and the materials with which he regularly worked.
These “subtle allusions”, as Fournier describes them, are equally reflected in the brand identity – crafted by Yorgo Tloupas, art director of Vanity Fair France. For the ebullient logo and typeface he devised a series of rectangles and circles that play out in other forms throughout the space, cropping up on menus and crisply folded napkins.
“Ultimately I want to create a destination where every hour is interesting,” says Depoix, “and that is reflected in the marriage of menu, identity and design.” It’s a sentiment echoed by Fournier.