Shanghai-based Neri&Hu is known for executing the art of restraint and for perfecting the ‘imperfect’ aesthetic – two strengths that come together at Parisian restaurant Papi.

Small-scale restaurant Papi – the interior measures just 52 sq-m – is located in Paris’s 9th arrondissement on the ground floor of a typical Haussmann building from the 19th century. Neri&Hu’s design neither overshadows or understates the ‘simple, sincere and elegant’ concept by restauranteur Etienne Ryckeboer of seafood bar Bulot Bulot fame. Instead, it exposes the building’s – and thus Paris’s – material heritage. Prior to becoming Papi, the site was painstakingly dismantled layer by layer, a reverse storyline of the finishes built up over the decades. The design was driven by the meticulous examination of what remained: these fragments, each of which represents a different period of Paris’s history, are integrated into the ‘new’ space, both inside and out. The interior reveals portions of the old limestone and brick walls, as well as two columns, one in steel and another, brick. The façade is shaped around a pre-existing steel I-beam lintel, while a segment of original stone moulding by the entryway is left exposed. The designers say the challenge was resisting the urge to fix every imperfection, to instead honour the imprint of time upon each surface.

Location 46 Rue Richer, 75009 Paris, France