When we first started recording our restaurant experiences on The Lausanne Guide, dining ambiance was hardly given a second thought by local restauranteurs. Lausanne had scores traditional Vaudois cafés and bistros, and anything that either diverged from the classic decor or managed to reinvent it somehow, was rare and daring.
Then, all of the sudden, something that felt like a gust of creative energy swept through town. At first it was just Caffè Bellini (circa 2013) with its colorful Eames chairs and subway tiles. But then we noticed it elsewhere too – Pavillon Bar and Kitchen, Le Perroquet, Café Louve, and most recently the newly reopened Auberge de Beaulieu. In each of these establishments, courageous interior design and ambiance decisions broke the mold completely. The traditional Vaudois café was nowhere to be found amidst the plush velvet sofas, the outrageous tropical wallpaper, and the original art murals painted by known and respected artists.
A bit of London and Paris had finally come to Lausanne, and we soon learned, all at the hands of one particularly gifted woman.
Dear readers, we’d like to introduce you to Julia Christ.
Born, raised, and educated in faraway Brazil, Julia followed her heart (in the form of a Frenchman) to Switzerland where she complemented her studies with a degree from HEAD Geneva in interior architecture. As an interior architect, she’s able to work on the complete concept from the inner workings of a space (think electricity and plumbing) all the way to the wall color and even the menu. She’s recruited for her vast knowledge and skill but especially for her innovative and international approach to design.
We met up with Julia on Saturday morning to tour the restaurants and cafés that she’s worked on…
What were your first impressions of Lausanne when you moved here so many years ago?
Lausanne is such a beautiful place, I felt at home right away. I really like how laid back and chill this city is. The only thing that was hard for me to get used to how early everything closed. Back then it was practically impossible to get any food after 10pm, and there wasn’t a lot of choice either, it was really hard to find anything other than pizza and steak-frites.
You’ve worked on several projects in the city now. Do you have a favorite?
The Pavilion. That project was a big challenge for me. When we went to visit it for the first time George, the owner, asked me if I could turn that dark little bar inside a car park into a cool place… haha!
At first, I didn’t see as much potential in it as he did, but I wasn’t going to back away from the challenge. I remember going there after it had been open for a couple of weeks and it was completely packed! That was a proud moment for me.
Where do you get your inspiration?
I usually start from the ‘feeling’ I would like people to have when they walk into the place. It’s quite abstract, but these days we are exposed daily to an enormous amount of beautiful ‘inspiration’ – Instagram, Pinterest, blogs, magazines, and such – it is so hard to clear out the mind in order to create something that is unique in any way. I find that this process of imagining the end result in terms of emotion helps me, as it serves as a guideline when choosing a style, colors, materials, etc.
Of the cafés and restaurants you’ve not worked on, which one do you find the most impressive and why?
I’d have to say the Brasserie de Montbenon. I go there a lot with my family. The space is so beautiful, and the food is always good, as is the service.
If you could take on any space it town, which one would you most enjoy designing?
The Hotel Au Lac in Ouchy. That place has so much potential, it’s such a perfect spot for a boutique hotel and a cool restaurant/bar and it could easily become one of Lausanne’s landmarks instead of just getting by on location alone.
When can we expect to see your next project in Lausanne?
My next project to open will be the FMEL (Fondation Maison d’Etudiants Lausannois) in Sevellin on May 2, 2019. I’ve also got a bar opening in mid-June 2019, but the name and location is still a secret, so stay posted!