Atelier Zébulon Perron: Passionate Design
Founded in 2008, Atelier Zébulon Perron is an interior design firm that specializes in the commercial sector. Zébulon and his team work closely with clients to dream up spaces that bring together aesthetics, timelessness and commercial success. Meet the mind behind the design of the restaurants and bars in Montréal’s much-anticipated Four Seasons Hotel (set to open its doors this spring), an individual so unique, he doesn’t need a last name.
You have designed several Montréal restaurants: the Montréal Plaza, Impasto and most recently, Henri. Why did you choose to specialize in the restaurant sector?
It’s true that we have a lot of projects in the hotel sector, especially in restaurants and bars, but we are also active in the real estate and retail sectors. Our passion is working on public spaces. We want to provide folks with opportunities to interact and be together. Restaurants are the ideal setting for that. We go there to eat, of course, but also to be out in public, see our friends and have experiences.
How do you approach a new project?
When we meet new clients, they already have a vision and ideas. We try to understand their motivations, then we develop our own concepts. Then we bring new ideas to the table, to move the project forward. We always work very closely with clients to create a space that reflects their vision.
What inspires you?
First of all, my clients! As I just said, they already have a vision when they come to us. For the Four Seasons Hotel, Chef Marcus Samuelsson’s personality and background gave us lots of material. I also travel to Europe a lot, especially to Italy, and I always come back to Montréal with a certain mindset.
What is the biggest challenge in completing a commercial space design?
There are many, but the biggest is meeting very tight deadlines. The lease gets signed and the countdown begins. Also, we always want to put a new twist on things. When we’re in the middle of a project, we often question the relevance of our approach. In this industry, you’ve got to be original, or you’re out.
As you mentioned, you are in the process of completing the bars and restaurants in the Montréal Four Seasons Hotel, which will open its doors this spring. Tell us more about this project.
The Four Seasons, which is headquartered in Canada, is a leading brand in the luxury hotel sector. We are very proud to work on this flagship project in Montréal. We are collaborating closely with Andrew Lutfy, President and CEO of Carbonleo, the property developer behind the project. He is very involved in the design. As is Chef Marcus Samuelsson. His unique story and cultural background are great sources of inspiration: he was born in Ethiopia, lived with his adoptive parents in Sweden and then made his career in New York.
Can you give us a sneak peek description of the bars and restaurants of the Four Seasons Montréal?
We are always influenced by context. For this project, we are working in a new building, very contemporary. The architecture must therefore also be very modern. The spaces are fluid and flow one into the other. We have a day lounge where people can have a drink or a cup of tea, a darker bar, a big brasserie-style dining room, a huge terrace with a bar and open outdoor kitchen. It’s a very multi-purpose combination. We used top-of-the-line materials, but we didn’t want to be flashy. The aesthetic is minimalist with a limited number of colours and materials, which creates a contemporary, airy space. Above all, we focused on the social interaction that is central to our company’s practice. Everything was designed to bring people together, to encourage conversation. We wanted to avoid a luxury concept with big empty spaces.
What are your short-term projects?
We have many upcoming projects in Montréal and Toronto, in restaurants and eyewear. In 2020, we will launch our first furniture line, which includes armchairs, sofas and light fixtures. It is a fantastic avenue for creativity.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
I don’t know yet, but definitely not retired! I am way too passionate about my work! (laughs)
Text: Diane Stehle
Portrait of Zébulon Perron: © Adèle Pasquin Frenette