Cloud Nine pix
It's heavenly at Mix, the New York restaurant that Patrick Jouin reinvented for THEhotel's top floor
David Kaufman -- Interior Design, 3/1/2005 12:00:00 AM
At THEhotel's Mix restaurant, Patrick Jouin tickled the air with 13,000 hand-blown glass bubbles ranging from 3 to 12 inches in diameter.
One of the main dining room's three fiberglass shells enclosing banquettes.
An additional 500 mirrored bubbles hang over the bowl-shape VIP dining area in the mezzanine.
Rising behind the lounge bar, a red lacquered fiberglass structure encloses a VIP lounge, reached by a concealed staircase.
The champagne bar offers amorphous banquettes for taking in the 64th-floor view.
Mandalay Resort Group built THEhotel, an all-suite tower attached to the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, to put to rest all those old notions about the Strip. Forget the faux Eiffel Towers and trompe l'oeil skies. The group imagined a crop of lithe international visitors less interested in a game of poker than they are in the lobby's collection of Richard Serra etchings. To complete the image, THEhotel also needed a dining experience that would resonate with the in-crowd.
So management approached chef Alain Ducasse and designer Patrick Jouin to turn the top floor of the 64-story hotel into a new incarnation of Mix, the New York bistro the two Frenchmen had collaborated on. They're also the team behind the Plaza Athénée restaurant and bar in Paris and Spoon Byblos in Saint-Tropez. And with so many joint projects successfully completed, Jouin says he instinctively knew his client's needs this time: "Alain and I did discuss functionality, but I had carte blanche on the design."
The look bids adieu to the intimacy of the street-level original in New York, with its white-painted brick walls. Instead, Agence Patrick Jouin went for the all-out dazzle appropriate to a sky-high space five times the size of the first location. The new approach also ensures a degree of fanfare to mark Ducasse's debut in Las Vegas, already home to Wolfgang Puck's Trattoria del Lupo and Charlie Palmer's Aureole, both next door at Mandalay Bay.
The 25,000-square-foot universe Jouin created is reached via two dedicated elevators, and is more than a touch sci-fi. The futuristic fantasy begins to unfold in the 200-seat main dining area, where snow-white, faux-leather-upholstered chairs share space with podlike fiberglass banquettes. Floors are Italian terrazzo, except for an inlaid circle of lace surfaced by acrylic that defines the center. Dangling from the ceiling above are no fewer than 13,000 hand-blown Murano glass bubbles. "With the restaurant so high up," Jouin says, "it's like being on a cloud."
But while they look ethereal, the glass-sphere droplets took three months to create and two weeks to install. They encircle a silvery flying saucer, which is actually the plaster bowl-shape mezzanine containing a VIP dining room; its shell is finished in silver leaf. The anointed few ascend to this faux-leather-paneled aerie via a curved flight of stairs.
A centrally located kitchen separates the main and VIP dining rooms from the more cocktail-oriented areas in the lounge, where the atmosphere becomes darkly seductive. "No two parts of the restaurant feel the same. Guests should experience something new each time they return," Jouin says. For drinks with a view, guests slide onto double-sided chocolate-brown banquettes that snake along one of the area's three windowed walls.
VIPs, though, might prefer the view from yet another lofty enclave. This one appears to mushroom out of the top of a red-lacquered circular enclosure behind the bar. Those lucky enough to gain access walk behind the bar and into the base of the red structure to find its staircase. "In a space this big, I had to find ways to create coziness and sexiness," Jouin says. When visitors get settled here, they can look back down through the whimsical, branchlike latticework that caps the parapet.
By contrast, a biomorphic motif dominates a corner champagne bar where white, blob-shape seating is covered in more faux leather. The bar's windows treat guests to a view of the entire Las Vegas valley. So, after THEhotel guests rake it in at the Mandalay casino next door, they can come here to celebrate. Those with $2,500 to blow can ask the Mix sommelier to pluck a 1964 Dom Perignon from the 5,000-bottle wine rack.