Meet the Makers: Michelle Lu and Georgina Harding, Café de la Semaine, Paris
Since launching Semaine in 2015, Michelle Lu and Georgina Harding have raised the bar for online e-commerce by proposing unique weekly content, with 360 content production. From artful fashion films to in-depth podcasts interviews, from shoppable videos to immersive experiences: the digital platform is never out of ideas to surprise their readers. Since December 1rst, Semaine has opened an actual Café on the ground floor of the hôtel Le Pigalle, to present its very own version of a Christmas pop-up. From Virtual to physical, we discuss Café de la Semaine, Tobias the turtle, and why they are Flâneurs at heart.
Why have you chosen to open café de la Semaine in Pigalle?
Apart from being drawn to the history of the neighborhood, the hotel itself is a special place. It has a real sense of community–from the staff to the customers that walk in and out, which we were very attracted to and in line with how we wanted our customers to interact with the space. The interior design that Hugo and Charlotte gave many avenues we could re-interpret and play with. And it’s not inconvenient that our office in Paris is a 5-minute walk away…
How is it to transition between online and offline?
Reinvigorating. Since it’s launch 3 years ago, Semaine has been predominantly online with our offline limited to one-off events. The DNA of Semaine has always been to create immersive experiences, so to be able to fully translate this offline has been a dream come true. Our goals are still the same, to excite and surprise our customer and audience where you’re transported to a world away…and it just so happens you can shop everything you touch.
How did you design the products?
It was very collaborative with Luke. We started with the logo, which is actually just his handwriting and then the little drawing of the tortoise. First, we started with the basics… the ceramics, wine glasses, coasters, menus, and we started to have fun with the identity of the café to take it one step further and partner with unique brands from around the world… pink berets with French embroidery specialist, scarves with HADES where each scarf is woven in Scotland…
How did this partnership with Le Pigalle come about?
About a year ago, Luke came to Paris and we were having a little drink at a hotel and were saying to ourselves how amazing would it be to open an ephemeral café and play with all the codes of the traditional Parisian café… When a friend introduced re-connected us to Hugo and Charlotte from Festen Architecture, who are responsible for the beautiful interior design of Le Pigalle, and subsequently connected us to Perseus, the holding group of a collection of boutique hotels including Le Pigalle, the conversation immediately came back into mind and we started connecting the dots to bring the dream to reality. We hope this is one of many collaborations to come.
What does it mean for you to be a flâneur?
A wanderer moving at their own rhythm in life.
What’s so unique about a French café?
It’s a place that is at the same time, stuck in time and timeless. And any time of day, it’s there for you. To have a coffee, alone, or in company, eat, drink, smoke, read, people watch… the simple needs that are well, essential in life.
Can you tell us about Tobias, the turtle?
When we were thinking of what could be our emblem of the café, we wanted something that felt playful but had meaning. About a year ago we had breakfast at Luke’s house and we were brainstorming ideas and Duncan (Luke’s boyfriend) suggested a tortoise. We latched onto the idea that he symbolises the idea of slowing down our pace. We later, rather fortuitously, made the connection that in the 19th century, the flâneurs used to walk tortoises down the busy Paris streets as an act to counter the rapidity of the industrial revolution.