12,000 Francs was the cash prize offered by Napoleon Bonaparte for the creation of a durable food preservation method for his army in 1795. Designed by award winning Emma Maxwell in her signature layered, worldly and eclectic style, 12,000 Francs is a contemporary French restaurant in Hong Kong.The interior is a playful blend of Napoleonic period references and sharp contemporary context.
The space is woven with Napoleonic narrative including the iconic Napoleonic bee. Chosen by Napoleon himself, the bees virtues of collective organisation and industry were values that he hoped would by people though-out the French empire .
At the entrance, a long communal sommelier table greets the guest as they arrive. A large bronze cast Pig sits prominently at the centre of the table. He holds 6 bottles of chilled "wine in swine". It's Maxwell's playful nudge to the character Napoleon the pig from George Orwell’s Animal farm. Maxwell also designed the stools around the sommelier table.As the guests venture through the space, dense clusters of honey coloured hand blown glass Bee Hive pendant lighting float evocatively above them. The ceiling is treated with hand pressed brass metal in a bee wing pattern, and ensures the space is blanketed a soft, comforting amber coloured glow.
The rich narrative of the space is further articulated with Kerrie Brown, "Broken Green" wallpaper. The pattern resonates with the memory of a 300 year old French Chateaus when the Napoleonic empire saturated Europes psyche. Brown is an Academy Award nominated film designer. The wallpaper appears to sit like delicate layers of a patterned midian on the wall, as if one just opened the door to a long ago abandoned building. The heavy, rich maximalist pattern of the wallpaper is accentuated by the sharp narrative of monochromatic contemporary honey comb tiles. The entire space is pulled into a central focus by the "hearth", a wood fired oven. Set within the open kitchen, it enables the chef to survey his empire and directly interact with his diners. The space is after all a theatre for the chef, Conor Beach and his diners.