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Artéfact, Paris

Photographer Morgane Bigault visited Artéfact in Paris and captured their unique blend of café and art space in an interview with co-owner Kaleigh Johnson and a series of beautiful photos.

Words Morgane Bigault

Photographs Morgane Bigault

How did the café come into being?

The concept behind Artéfact was developed at the end of 2014 when my husband Fadel and I dreamed up a business that included both of our interests. Fadel has worked in the tea industry for almost ten years and I’ve worked in galleries and art centres. We wanted to develop a space that brought together the traditions and performative aspects of tea (and coffee) with contemporary art.

We wanted to develop a space that brought together the traditions and performative aspects of tea (and coffee) with contemporary art.

We opened the space in the beginning of 2015 with a third colleague, Nicolas, who specialises in wine. Between the three of us, we’re developing an art space dedicated to emerging artists with an art book section, our own tea brand — Artéfact TEAs, specialising in teas sourced from farms in Rwanda, Malawi, India, China and Japan (to name a few) — and also a fine deli with wine and products from the south of France. We also host events that allow us to incorporate all parts, whilst promoting local and international artists and artisans.

Why did you choose to open Artéfact in the Le Marais district in Paris?

We chose Le Marais for several reasons. Fadel has worked here for the past five years and developed a loyal and curious clientele interested in tea, art, and of course good French wine. We also love the international aspect of this neighbourhood: many of his clients (and now our clients) are from all over the world. Finally, we were very lucky to find a perfect space for our concept in Le Marais. The architecture is typical of the neighbourhood, with beautiful stone walls and wooden beams that really give life to our concept. The open space and mezzanine floor also allow us to develop the two parts — café and project space — on separate levels. We didn't want to create a café with art on the walls; instead, we wanted two separate and strong concepts that work together.

How does Artéfact stand out?

It has an ability to combine and promote so many different cultures and traditions on a contemporary platform. Our goal is to share tea customs from all over the world whilst also developing a contemporary tea brand that feels new and fresh. Our art space is dedicated to emerging artists and contextualising their work in a research-oriented space created by a very specific selection of art books. We’re finding that our clientele, while very international and diverse, is also very similar. They are interested in culture, they are curious, and they are friendly; we have a community that interacts with each other, which is wonderful. We’ve been able to create collaborations and projects with many of our customers since we opened.

We try to incorporate family traditions and specialties as much as possible into our business.

What does Artéfact mean to you personally?

Everything in our space is very personal to the three of us. For instance, our wine and artisan honey is made by Nicolas’ family in the south of France. Our homemade cookies are made with traditional Algerian family recipes by Fadel's mother, Houria Imendjerioune, and all of our dishes and decorations come from my mother's antique collection. We try to incorporate family traditions and specialties as much as possible into our business.

The idea behind Artéfact TEAs is to source from smaller farms and cooperatives around the world, especially in up-and-coming places such as Rwanda, Malawi, Hawaii, and New Zealand. We also create special tea blends for our partners and distributors in Paris.

Visit Artéfact at 23 Rue des Blancs-Manteaux, 75004, Paris, or online at artefact-marais.com.


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