Les Mains Dorées

Seoul, South Korea

Simple and enduring designs from Fritz Hansen create a tangible connection to the surroundings at Seoul’s latest neighbourhood café.

“The directive for Les Mains Dorées was unequivocal,” avers interior designer Hyemin Lee. “Reimagine the essence of the Sarangbang within the neighbourhood context.”

Derived from the classic Korean Hanok dwellings, the Sarangbang was once a hub of activity, seamlessly blending hospitality with domestic functionality. Originally serving as guest quarters, workspaces, reading nooks and places for intellectual exchange, the adaptability of the Hanok was boundless.

“As the term evolved over time, it transcended its original functions to embody a cherished communal space within modern society. We envisioned this café as the quintessential neighbourhood spot where you'd eagerly invite your family and friends to share in its warmth and charm,” Lee notes.

“With Les Mains Dorées aspiring to establish a global presence, our objective was to create an ambience that would strike a chord with locals in beloved cities worldwide,” Lee explains. “Stepping into the café, one could easily transport themselves to the bustling streets of Seoul, the romantic avenues of Paris or the vibrant neighbourhoods of New York or Tokyo.”

Inside, the baked goods are presented like precious gems in a boutique, encouraging customers to engage with the carefully curated display and ensuring a delectable dessert experience for everyone who walks through the doors.

Lee also wanted to cultivate a lasting sense of timeless familiarity, reminiscent of a beloved neighbourhood café. Selecting the Dot stools in walnut and Ant chairs in clear lacquered oak veneer, celebrated for their enduring forms, Lee opted for Beige Mustard Vanir front upholstery on the latter to establish a visual link between the nature outside and the café’s ambience:

“In autumn, the park next to the café adorns itself in a beautiful yellow dress as the leaves transition from crisp green to vivid yellow. We aimed to create a connection between the yellow leaves of the park and the café by upholstering the Ant chairs with warm yellow fabric.”

For Lee, Les Mains Dorées goes beyond mere interior design: it is his business. Working together with talented individuals to create a space that is poetic and physical, he has realised his vision ensure that Sarangbang will remain a treasured part of Korean culture for generations to come: “We live in a frenetic society where unnecessary consumption often reigns. Yet, I firmly believe that certain values deserve enduring respect and love.”