Tom Dixon revamps legendary Paris brasserie Le Drugstore

Tom Dixon revamps legendary Paris brasserie Le Drugstore

Already a household name in the UK, judging by recent expansions that have taken him from Tokyo to Paris, Tom Dixon also has designs on global domination. Forging his own path in the Eighties, the self-taught blowtorch-wielding design maverick first rose to fame in the Nineties by swapping his welded furniture for popular user-friendly products that he created such as the stackable Jack light.

After stints at Italian luxury furniture brand Cappellini (for whom he created the iconic “S” chair) and Habitat, he became a one-man brand in 2002 and continues (now, with a little help from majority shareholder, British investment company NEO) to produce design hits at an unrivalled pace. Recent years have seen the arrival of the Wingback chair, Copper shade pendant and brass Beat lights.

Tom Dixon

Today the Tom Dixon brand is expanding globally at an exponential rate but it’s not just a retail story. Sure, his products are sold in 75 countries worldwide and in the past two years he’s opened flagship stores in Tokyo, New York, Los Angeles and Hong Kong, but Design Research Studio — the interiors side of the business — is also broadening its horizons.

Since 2015 new Dixon-designed restaurants have popped up in Hong Kong, London and Atlanta. Paris is the latest world capital to play host to a Dixon interior. This time he’s revamped the legendary Champs-Élysées brasserie Le Drugstore which sits at the base of the headquarters of its owner, the multinational advertising company Publicis Groupe, described by Dixon as “the second biggest publicity group in the universe”.

Le Drugstore interior designed by Tom Dixon

Le Drugstore first opened in 1958 when Publicis founder Marcel Bleustein-Blanchet aimed to introduce Parisians to American convenience and bar culture, as the typically laconic Dixon explains while giving Telegraph Luxury a tour of the new space. “Marcel became entranced by American milk bars and wanted to bring that casual dining experience with burgers and milkshakes to France, but it was also a late-night shopping spot where you could buy newspapers and cigarettes, which was quite a revolutionary concept at the time.”

Since its original heyday Le Drugstore has undergone various iterations — the next door newsagent (and gift store, pharmacy and grocery) remains the most profitable in Paris — and although the Champs-Élysées is a veritable tourist drag, the brasserie has always attracted predominantly French diners. Damaged by fire in the early Seventies it was recreated in 2004; Dixon’s brief was to maintain a sense of nostalgia while take it forwards into the future.

The bar at Le Drugstore

“The boss of Publicis lived through the golden years of advertising in the Sixties. He’s retiring so this was his legacy project, so one of the references was the TV series Mad Men. By coincidence in 2013 we did the office at McCann Erickson in New York, so we have a track record in that department,” says Dixon, relaxing back in one of his Wingback armchairs.

The revised version of Le Drugstore is an inviting vision of burnished brass elements with richly veined marble counters onto the open kitchen (overseen by top chef and raw-meets-cooked advocate Éric Fréchon of three-star Michelin restaurant Épicure) and patisserie, all enriched by faux glossy rosewood laminate and deep burgundy velvet and leather upholstered seating.

The conservatory at Le Drugstore

It has an plush mid-century-meets-Seventies feel, boosted by the chunky banquettes reminiscent of De Sede’s 1972 classic DS 600 sofa and the custom-designed, steel-framed dining chairs and bar stools with distinctive circular feet. These pay tribute to furniture by the celebrated mid-century modern designer Mathieu Matégot which furnished the space at some point in the past. A key feature is also the illuminated coffered ceiling, starring Dixon’s brand new 2017 copper Melt surface lights, which opens up an otherwise low-ceilinged space.

It may be the locals’ favourite, but with front-row views of the Arc de Triomphe from the glass-walled conservatory and al fresco terrace, a high ranking chef and Dixon’s glamorous revamp, Le Drugstore is sure to lure in a new international crowd.