From Paris to Beirut, the LIZA Restaurant

published in: Restaurants/Bars By Rooksana Hossenally, 03 May 2014

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photo © LISA Beirut.

Without a doubt, restaurants today are placing a heavier emphasis on design and atmosphere. LIZA in East Beirut, Lebanon, is one such place; design having been taken to new heights in fact.  Having already caused quite a stir with its historically charged, romance infused interiors in Paris, this first Lebanese outpost of the French capital’s institution comprises a tribute to contemporary Arab art and Lebanese food culture.

Named after one of its owners, Liza Asseily, the LIZA restaurant resembles a lavishly decorated private apartment. Luxurious without being ostentatious, its cosmopolitan atmosphere brings the walls of the former Abdallah Bustros Palace that it inhabits, alive once again where the traditional layout of a 19th century Lebanese home has been kept intact throughout the 500-sqm space and the rooms arranged symmetrically on the three sides of the Dar (central hallway) are divided by magnificent Moorish style interior windows.

photo © LISA Beirut.

photo © LISA Beirut.

photo © LISA Beirut.

The creamy palette of neutral hues, intricate detail in the bespoke wallpaper through to the carefully studied tableware all contribute to giving the space a slick feminine edge. The interiors were designed by self-taught ''nomad'' Maria Ousseimi whose work owners Liza and Ziad Asseily knew and loved – especially her dislike for the sleek and static. As Ousseimi proudly says: ''We did not get obsessive about the design …..Everything is a bit tongue in cheek; delightful and somewhat impish.'' Case in point, the large flying elephant that hangs from the Dar ceiling, a playful reference to the Lebanese fascination for the fantastical.

The star feature of the space however, is artist Idarica Gazzoni’s unique Arjumand wallpapers, which dress the walls like frescoes in a royal palace. Not only do they recall the original purpose of the building, they also create a different story in each of the four rooms (Main room, Banana room, Money room, Building room).

Commenting on the composition, Ousseimi claims that: ''Every room stands alone and yet plays a part in the bigger composition. LIZA Beirut is welcoming, inviting…moments are savoured and prolonged…LIZA Beirut feels like a place where one wishes to live.'' Visually stimulating while remaining soothing due to the harmonious combination of colours, prints and materials, the restaurant is a celebration of Lebanese history and culture. The brightness of the space, along with the marble floors and tables are complimented by a soft green leafy wallpaper designed by in the Banana room which creates an outdoor veranda feel while blown-up ancient Lebanese Lira in the Money room or the images of the ceramic cityscapes by Marilyn Massoud and Rasha Nawam recalling the bustling metropolis that is Beirut in the Building room, create distinct atmospheres and a different link to the country’s multifaceted past.

photo © LISA Beirut.

photo © LISA Beirut.

Bright with lofty ceilings (seven metres high), natural light floods into the space through windows that line the front of the restaurant whilst bespoke lighting created by architect Jan Van Lierde (JVL Studio) casts a soft hue come nighttime. Historical notes like the polished brass tableware, decorative objects and corner bar by Karim Chaya in the Main room, are laced with contemporary design features like the carved wood furniture by Orient 499.

LIZA Beirut opened in November 2013 at rue Metropolitan Club Douman in the up market Achrafieh neighbourhood of Beirut known for its dynamic dining scene.  The brand includes LIZA Paris created in 2005, the L DE LIZA sandwich bar, the LIZA CHEZ VOUS catering service as well as the MEZZA LIA delivery service. This spring, CANTINE LIZA is due to open in Paris at the famed Galerie Lafayette.

photo © LISA Beirut.

photo © LISA Beirut.

photo © LISA Beirut.

photo © LISA Beirut.

photo © LISA Beirut.

photo © LISA Beirut.

photo © LISA Beirut.

photo © LISA Beirut.

sources:

LIZA Beirut

  • friend
    CHRISTINA LIVERI | 2014-05-03 19:31:05

    HOW IMPRESSIVE! THE LIGHT COMES FROM INSIDE THE RESTAURANT. IT'S DECORATION IS A REASON FOR TRAVELING THERE, LET ALONE THE CUISINE!

  • friend
    Angus W. Macdonald | 2014-05-07 19:42:14

    This kind of layered transparency between levels of historical recall, texture, color, light, and modern graphics creates an environment of interwoven space and time...brilliantly done; it looks calm and harmonious as well as stimulating and interesting down to the details. Contrats!

  • friend
    何瑞林 | 2014-05-16 10:10:13

    Good love is worth learning

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