All it needed was arms, for, being a Frenchman, it wanted to speak!
— Édouard Michelin on Bibendum and the idea that Frenchmen speak using their hands
Learn more about Michelin House below...
The Art Deco building was built in 1905 and designed by François Espinasse, an engineer who worked at the French headquarters of the Michelin Tyre Company. The Michelin House was used as the UK headquarters and tyre depot, and opened for business in 1911.
During the 1930s, after the headquarters of the Michelin Tyre Company were moved to Stoke-on-Trent, only the basement and ground floors of the building were used for storage. It was not until after World War II that the House was in full use again by Michelin, with the extended part of the building leased out.
In 1969, the original section of Michelin House was given a Grade II listing and later on in 1985, the building was sold to the partnership of Sir Terence Conran and Paul Hamlyn who revitalised the space with restaurants, bars, shops, and offices.
Today, the building houses: The Conran Shop, a high-end furniture and homeware store by Conan Roche; a restaurant in honour of the Michelin Man, Bibendum; and a number of bars and offices.
Did you know?
The three original stained glass windows at the front of the building featuring Bibendum were actually removed for some time due to fear of them being damaged by bombs in the second world war. Although these were never found again along with the glass cupolas, Conran Roche and YRM (architects) were able to find suppliers who could produce replicas using original photos, drawings, and posters as reference.
The concrete and brick building is two storeys high and faced with glazed terracotta; it was built using the ferro-concrete (concrete reinforced with steel) method, which had fireproof properties and was an early example of this type of construction in Britain. The façade is divided into three bays with ornamental piers in between, and on either side of the building are larger piers with glass cupolas (rounded domes which form a roof or ceiling) at the top.
Michelin House has characteristics of both Art Nouveau and Art Deco style, with elaborate metalwork and decoration of the former and the large advertising images of the latter. On the exterior and interior of the building are hand-painted panels by Edouard Montau, illustrating the use of Michelin tyres on vehicles such as horse-drawn carriages, bicycles, and racing cars. Keeping with the theme, three large stained-glass windows which were designed by the French artist and cartoonist Marius Rousillon, were installed on the outside and featured the Michelin Man. The interior contained more graphic elements such as etched glass street maps of Paris, typographic monograms of the company, and a mosaic floor with Bibendum holding up a drink and the words Nunc est Bibendum in Latin (Now is the time to drink).
See images of Michelin House