Maison du Musée is a French restaurant housed in an elegant 1930’s Western-style mansion, where guests come to enjoy Executive Chef Daijiro Ezoe’s superb seasonal cuisine. The dining experience is elevated by the opulence of the timeless decor and displays of artwork by Erté, a French-Russian master of the art deco style. Come on a tasteful cultural journey to learn more about Erté and why this restaurant near Omotesando Station is now home to the world’s largest private collection of his work. 

maison du musee art tokyo restaurant

The Dawning of Art Deco

Often referred to as the “Father of art deco,” Erté (1892-1990) was born into a wealthy Russian family as Romain de Tirtoff. His parents hoped he would eventually follow family tradition and join the navy, but the young Romain’s interests lay elsewhere. He was in awe of his mother and older sister’s sense of style and enjoyed looking through women’s fashion magazines as a child. Against the wishes of his parents, he moved to Paris as a young adult to pursue a career in design, taking the pseudonym Erté from the French pronunciation of his initials, RT, in order to spare his family further embarrassment.

Erté’s early years in France coincided with the emergence of the art deco style. It began just before World War I and had become wildly popular in Europe and the United States by the 1920s. Art deco was characterized by sleek, stylized forms which symbolize modernity and sophistication, and it has influenced everything from the visual arts and fashion to architecture and furniture.

In 1915 Erté began working with Harper’s Bazaar, and went on to produce 240 covers for the eminent fashion magazine over the next 20 years. He also found success in the theater world with his colorful designs for costumes and stage sets, and in 1925 he traveled to Hollywood to collaborate with legendary film producer Louis B. Mayer. 

maison du musee art restaurant tokyo

Erté’s Renaissance

After a period of relative obscurity in the 1940s and 50s, a renewed interest in art deco ushered in a new creative era for Erté in the 1960s. He began producing limited-edition prints and sculptures, which were enthusiastically received by galleries and art aficionados around the world. He even created a limited-edition range of bottle designs for a luxury brand of cognac in 1988, just two years before he passed away at the age of 97. 

The majority of the artwork at Maison du Musée is from this latter half of Erté’s life, and it reflects his depth of experience while still remaining true to the essence of art deco which first brought him fame. The current owner of Maison du Musée has been an avid collector of Erté’s work for more than 30 years. Seeking a venue where he could display and share his collection, he found the ideal match in Maison du Musée, a former family home with almost 90 years of history.

The building was originally commissioned by a wealthy businessman called Naogoro Chiba, who was well-versed in Western architecture. It was completed in 1934 and presented as a wedding gift to Naogoro’s son and his wife, who raised four children there. The house continued to be used as a private residence until 1981, and it subsequently operated as a members only restaurant for nearly 20 years until the current owner took it over. The building was registered as a Tangible Cultural Property in May 2018.

A Tasteful Combination

Drawing on the concept of “dining in an art museum,” the owner undertook various renovations, including the addition of the main dining room in 2001. “While the architecture of the building itself is not art deco, it was built during the heyday of the art deco style, resulting in a harmonious match with Erté’s artwork,” explains Yoshikazu Maruyama, the General Manager of Maison du Musée. “Moreover, this collaboration has ensured that the original style and integrity of the building has been preserved.” 

More than 120 pieces of Erté’s work are on display throughout the building, including prints, sculptures and interior decor. Some of the works are found on the second floor, where there are beautifully-furnished private dining areas which can be reserved for groups. Those who would like a tour should ask the staff members, who are more than happy to show guests around the facility (with the exception of any private dining areas that are occupied at the time).

maison du musee dining room restaurant tokyo

“To our knowledge Erté never visited Japan, but we are pleased that his artwork has found a home here in Tokyo. We invite guests to come and get to know his work while dining with us,” says Maruyama. 

In addition to the main restaurant, the facility includes an intimate wine bar called Jardin de Erté and Affinité, a patisserie where you can pick up sweet treats to take home. With a beautiful garden featuring an ever-changing array of seasonal flowers, Maison du Musée also makes an ideal venue for weddings and after-parties. 

For more information, visit the Maison du Musée website. Readers who visit Maison du Musée between July and November 2023 and mention Tokyo Weekender to the staff are eligible to receive a free aperitif.