To unsuspecting daytime bystanders, 142 rue Montmatre isn't anything out of the ordinary. But by night, that's all changed, with dozens of Parisians lined up outside, pleading with bouncers to let them into a new members' nightclub called Silencio.
One of the designers behind Silencio, Raphael Navot, hopes the club will enhance Paris's nightlife scene. 'It became very clear, there was a serious hunger for a cultural members club,' he says. He feels the nightlife scene hasn't concentrated on interaction and creative exchange.
Not that Silencio operates as a free-for-all: a membership is priced between Euro420 and Euro1,500 per year, and after midnight, when it is opened to the public, you'll need to be on the guest list to enter the hottest ticket in town.
But what has the city's vampire set eagerly awaiting outside is the venue's much-anticipated artistic direction by David Lynch, the revered left-field American director behind the puzzling films Blue Velvet and Lost Highway. It should come as no surprise that Lynch was involved in the first place: 'Design and music, art and architecture - they all belong together,' Lynch once said in an interview.
Which is exactly the sort of place that proprietor, Arnaud Frisch, wanted. He was aware of Lynch's multidisciplinary interests and recruited an ambitious team of creatives to materialise the filmmaker's vision over two years.
The results are dreamy and sleek, with Lynchian flashes located throughout a series of labyrinthine spaces. Navot calls it 'nostalgic-future'. Mirrors dotted around the space lend the space a voyeuristic feel, a smoking room doubles up as a surreal forest, and one room's uneven wood-block ceiling seems as if it's collapsible. Lighting veers between seductive low-glows in certain areas to stage-bright in corridors, offsetting luxuriant tones of amber, red and the club's signature gold.
Navot says no paint has been used, with the emphasis on effects created by materials like wool, wood, resin, glass and 'decomposed marble'. On the whole, it feels like a strange cocktail bar, similar to the one depicted in Lynch's masterpiece Mulholland Drive.
The main obstacle, was translating Lynch's vision ('sceneography') into working design. Many of his design drawings were 'flat, graphical, images' that needed to be 3D maps. Navot likens the process to DNA sampling, and felt that once he understood one of Lynch's design principles, he could predict what would follow.
'There were many aspects that could exist in theory, but went through a sort of transformation,' says Navot. 'There is something very rewarding in entering a world of such a great artist and to be allowed to extract forms and spaces from it.'
The club's main stage will also play host to new signings, established bands and up-and-coming DJs. Lynch extended his influence to the artistic programme in late October, when he inaugurated Silencio's first quarterly 'Carte-Blanche' event - a seven-day fest where Lynch introduced a personal selection of books, music and art, including sets by band The Kills and singer Lykke Li. For the film schedule, Lynch selected movies by Alfred Hitchcock, Federico Fellini and Ingar Bergman.
Whether or not Silencio succeeds in putting the oomph back into Paris' slowly decaying nightlife scene, one thing is for sure: it's definitely added a new sparkle to the city of lights.
Lust in space
*The Euro3.3 million, 2,100-square-foot space consists of a series of intimate rooms, including a live stage with a reflective dance floor, an intimate art library, a cocooned sitting lounge and a 24-seat cinema.
*Lynch has created three original furniture designs: Black Birds - a series of black-leather seats and tables. Wire - a collection of seats and sofas; and an ergonomic cinema seat.
*Open daily from 6pm to 6am. Until midnight, the club is reserved exclusively for cardholders and their guests.