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Artist & Entrepreneur | Paris & New York
Enigmatic, artistic and seriously cool, André Saraiva traverses the worlds of art, design, hospitality and creative direction, while maintaining his status as the baron of Paris and New York’s ultra-exclusive nightlife scene.
Chances are that while you’ve been strolling through the streets of Paris, you may have caught a glimpse of his eye-popping signature graffiti art on a random street wall. Then again, you may have seen him in Banksy’s film, Exit Through The Gift Shop, watched him abseil into the Galeries Lafayette department store to open Paris Fashion Week, seen his creative direction within the cutting-edge L’Officiel Hommes magazine, or his limited edition collaborations with brands such as Colette and Kitsuné. Otherwise known as “Monsieur A”, the Swedish-born designer, artist, hotelier and restaurateur André Saraiva is also the nightlife maven behind the exclusive Paris nightclubs, Le Baron (now with outposts in Tokyo and New York) and Le Montana. We find out why he loves Paris so much that he tattooed, “J’aime Paris” on his right arm ...
RV: How would you define “André Saraiva”?
AS: Originally, I was a graffiti artist, spending my time writing my name and painting “Mr A.” on walls around Paris. I love to create, to tell stories ... when you think about it, that’s what an artist does. Any opportunity and pretext seem to stimulate my creativity.
RV: What has been the most exciting project that you’ve worked on in the last 5 - 10 years and why?
AS: There are so many: from painting to being a creative director for magazines. Nevertheless, two projects that I produced recently are still in my heart: the short movie “New York la la la” that I directed last year; and my “Dream Concert” art project that I took to 10 cities around the world, with posters announcing dream artist lineups in great venues—such as a concert in the Madison Square Garden putting together Jay-Z, Pharrell Williams, Kanye West and Eminem.
RV: What projects are you currently working on which excite you the most when you wake up in the morning?
AS: I only want to do things that I like! As long as it involves artistic creation, it keeps me excited. For example, I recently went to Switzerland to work on a project with the luxury watchmaker Parmigiani. I met with highly skilled craftsmen and watch designers, and it was a fantastic experience.
RV: You have been a global nomad since you lived in Sweeden during your childhood, with a Portuguese heritage, and then moved to Paris when you were 10 years old. Where do you feel at home?
AS: New York City is currently my new home, where I moved recently. It is a vibrant and young city, modern, very dynamic and also artistic at the same time. Since I feel like a gypsy, I need to travel very often. However, I always come back to Paris. I think I could be a taxi driver in Paris since I know the city by heart. Paris is such a romantic city, a symbol of love, longing, creativity and the pleasure of the living moment.
RV: You have a big “J’aime Paris” tattoo on your right arm, why this “déclaration d’amour”?
AS: It’s Paris who made me who I am ... so it’s like a message: if I get lost, bring me back to Paris—sort of like a luggage tag!
RV: How would you define Parisian people?
AS: I’ll focus on Parisian women if I can. I would say that they are stylish, elegant, dreamers, nonchalant, lovers; however, they can also be quite distant.
RV: What are your favourite areas and things to do in Paris?
AS: It’s funny, but one of my favourite things to do is to just cross the Seine river from one side to the other. I also love eclectic areas such as the 9th and 10th arrondissements. They are diverse, full of life, with a mix of middle class and trendy people, which is what makes them interesting. For shopping, there are three places that I really like: Colette concept store on rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, Charvet who is the best shirtmaker and tailor in Paris in Place Vendôme, and Anatomica in Le Marais, a great men’s shop. When I want to visit an art gallery and for an opening, I usually go to Emmanuel Perrotin’s gallery in Le Marais, Galerie Perrotin, or 1900-2000 rue de Bonaparte, next to the Pont des Arts.
RV: What are your favourite addresses in Paris in terms of restaurants and for drinks?
AS: That’s not easy ... one of my all-time favourite Italian restaurants is Cibus, situated close to Opéra. Elio, the owner, is adorable. Since the meals are delicious and the space is tiny, you’d better reserve in advance. For dinner, I often go to Brasserie Lipp, a typical Parisian restaurant in Saint Germain which is over 100 years old. Since I live next to the Hotel Amour, its restaurant has become my canteen. I go there for dinner at least three times a week and I love their wine list with new organic wines. I’m also a big fan of the new wave of young chefs such as Iñaki Aizpitarte from Le Chateaubriand. I’ve been going to his restaurant since it opened about five or six years ago. And the last but not the least, I also love Restaurant Jean-François Piège. For drinks, in addition to my own places, Le Baron and Le Montana, I love to go late at night to the Café de Flore facing the St Germain church. It has been an institution for decades and has stayed the same since opening. L’Embuscade, in the 9th arrondissement, is also one of my favourite places for a late-night drink.
Interview: Enrique Nalda
Photography: Courtesy of John-Paul Goode, Colette & Orangina
Interview first published in RedVisitor Magazine: Issue One - Purchase Now
M O R E I N T E R V I E W S . . .