My head is full of ideas,” reflects designer Jean-Philippe Demeyer, speaking via Zoom not long ago. “It is a cupboard with a million drawers that I open and take out my fantasies.” And what utterly wonderful dreams those are, as AD readers know from the showstopping Comporta holiday home he shares with his partners in business and in life, Frank Ver Elst and Jean-Paul Dewever (AD, June 2022). For Gigi restaurant at the historic heart of Ghent, the AD100 designer has likewise pulled out all the decorative stops, blending a surprising array of visual ingredients into a delightful feast for the eyes.
The brief from his young client, Willem Deketelaere, to whom he was introduced through mutual friends, was simple: Italian escapism. Demeyer took that mandate and ran wild, wrapping columns (two structural, four just for rhythm) in twisting stripes à la Venetian mooring posts, tiling a ceiling in a serpentine wink to Gucci, and layering tributes to Alitalia, including a painted concrete floor inspired by aisle lights and a triangular motif based on the airline’s tail logo. Neoclassical terra-cotta sculptures form a partition. (“We call it the Via Appia,” he jokes.) Lace curtains nod to the bustling cafés of Naples’s Quartieri Spagnoli district. And a custom carpet in
an exuberant citrus motif wraps the benches, walls, and ceiling of a dining alcove, forming its own immersive world while evoking limoncello digestivi along the Amalfi Coast.
“I love an extravaganza but there must be balance,” Demeyer notes of his carefully calibrated take on maximalism, which relies on visual structure to ground his otherwise madcap assemblage of flourishes. Here, a snaking bar (topped with marble scraps) anchors fanciful details ranging from a Medusa wall sculpture based on the Versace logo to fringed pink lampshades to sconces in the shape of torch-bearing Olympian arms. “I like twisting things, turning them around and around,” he says. Go ahead and call it eclectic, a word that, he points out, comes from eklektikos, or “selective” in Greek. “To choose, that is what I do,” he muses. “I take from all my many influences and create something new.” gigi6161.be
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