Snapshot: In the heart of Saint Denis, Paris, Le Syndicat by CUT Architects is breaking the mold. This is France’s answer to Brooklyn’s Dive Bar, turning the neighborhood's rep around and utilizing the existing raw space as the backdrop for a killer bar.
Renowned for its high crime rates, Saint Denis is one of the edgier districts of Paris, and offers more urban interpretations of French and European design. When one thinks Paris, one thinks Eifel Tour, frog legs and engagement rings. Now think reinterpretations of 60s design, reclaimed, refurbished and retro.
CUT Architects is the workings of Benjamin Clarens & Yann Martin whose main objective is to move against conformist Parisian Architecture. They’re keen on breaking boundaries between architecture and urbanism, incorporating as much of the original building into the new design as possible. Raw materials are a strong feature, and their appreciation and respect for the history of what they work with shines through.
In Saint Denis, this results in a cocktail bar, flush with geometric shapes, exposed walls, vintage curtains and a general vibe of secrecy. If drinking cocktails was illegal and you had some cool friends who were doing it anyway, this is where it would be happening. It’s both an nod to and a move away from the criminal activity that the neighborhood is known for.
Inside you will find the original broken mosaic flooring that has been reworked, golden quilted curtains and cork tiles over the whole ceiling. The marble bar top is in similar CNC-cut patterns, and the back wall is covered with warehouse steelwork, shelving, and technical fixtures for bottles, glasses, shakers and the like. There the barman appears framed in spotlight performing his secret art of mixology, hidden in this urban hub.
On trend and on the mend, this latest addition to Saint Denis is a shining example of this burgeoning neighborhood and the strengthening society and design it has to offer.
Photography by David + Foessel