Dans Le Noir

Welcome to a new world of senses!

Tuesday 19 June 2012, by rudnik

2 inspired

A. How did you find this company? What are the main facts about its activities?

I once read an article about a restaurant in Warsaw offering meals in complete darkness served by blind waiters. After some research I found that it was a temporary location of one of the Danse le Noir restaurants.

Dans le Noir is a network of high-class restaurants originating in Paris with outlets in cities like London and Barcelona. What is unique about Dans le Noir is the fact that the food is consumed in complete darkness and all the waiters are either blind or with significant eyesight problems.

Upon entering the restaurants the guests are asked to leave all their light-generating objects (watches, mobile phones) in lockers. Afterwards they are led by a blind waiter into the completely dark dining room and seated directly next to other guests which, together with the dark surrounding, facilitates conversations with strangers. The guests are encouraged not to order a specific dish but instead try to guess what is served to them – this, according to the guests of the restaurant, is not so easy having to depend only on the senses of taste and smell.

B. What are the Ethical challenges this company is addressing?

The company proudly describes itself as a for-profit organization. Apart from the goal of earning money, it tries to help people with completely or partially malfunctioning eyesight. It does so in three ways: firstly, all the waiters are either blind or with serious vision problems, which gives them an opportunity of work in an environment where they can feel more comfortable than regular people for a change. Secondly, according to the founder Edouard de Broglie, ten percent of annual profits are donated to charity organizations fighting blindness and severe vision problems. Finally, a visit at the restaurant is meant to raise awareness about the guest and make them stop and think about the difficulties faced by blind people in the everyday life.

C. What makes this company really inspiring to you and why would you trust it?

For me the most inspiring aspect of the company is giving the blind people the ability to switch roles with the people having healthy eyesight. In the restaurant it is the blind waiters who feel comfortable, guide and assist the guests and make them at ease. The guests on the other hand, being put in the dark, unknown environment, are reported to be a bit uncomfortable, unconfident and clumsy.

What also inspires me is the unique experience of relying on certain senses only. Without their vision used the guests concentrate more on their senses of taste, smell, and touch to appreciate food. The unusual setting also makes it possible to engage in interesting conversations with strangers without the ability to judge them visually – which is what most people subconsciously to right upon meeting someone.

D.What are the possible challenges facing the company in the future and how do you think this company may improve?

The prices in the restaurants are high so the outlets appeal mostly to wealthy people. However, the price aspect does not seem to be much of a problem as the restaurants are located in the business centres of the cities.

What seems a bigger threat is the competition. Dans le Noir, while probably being the most well-known network of the kind, has to compete with a number of companies offering meals based on the same concept: Dine in the Dark, Opaque, and Blinde Kuh. This might be the reason why the company has made an attempt to diversify its services and open spa´s in Paris and Kiev, which I believe is a good strategy.

Bibliography

http://www.cnngo.com/bangkok/eat/dark-dining-188185
http://www.danslenoir.com/
http://dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/12/06/at-dans-le-noir-dining-in-the-dark/
http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2006/may/28/foodanddrink.restaurants
http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/2006/mar/01/restaurants.london
http://www.logo24.pl/Logo24/1,125389,5464174,Dans_le_Noir__Ciemnosc_widze__ciemnosc_.html

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2 Discussions / 2 Messages

  • Dans Le Noir 3 October 2012 at 17:47 , by Caroline

    I believe that in life one should never stop learning, but most of all should challenge oneself in doing so. One of the best ways to achieve this is by abandoning our personal comfort zones, being opened to new experiences. This is exactly what Dans le Noir does: it pushes people out of their comfort zones, offering them the possibility to live a different experience. I was very inspired because it isn’t just a restaurant: it is a journey that uses food as a means. It combines dining with awareness, as it challenges customers’ senses and at the same time gives them a chance to have an insight into a blind person’s living, especially on how they experience food and nutrition. Eating in the dark changes our perspective and gives us a sensory experience that enhances our awareness on how lucky we are only by the fact that we can see. It therefore must be without doubt a unique experience with no equals and I would challenge anybody not to find it fascinating. Other than teaching us a lesson, it brings people together: you dine at a table with strangers and have the opportunity to share point of views and thoughts. As a result, Dans le Noir is just truly inspiring because it opens your mind and heart, helps you put your senses at test and even offers a unique employment opportunity for the blind. The latter is a point that must not be disregarded, as for the first time the blinds are the ones guiding others into an environment: these people live in the darkness for their entire lives and don’t have the possibility to see what is out there, but here, they have the chance to step up and confidently teach others something. I believe that once you have experienced this dining you feel so fortunate and grateful, improving your empathy and manners: this is why, If I had the chance, I would definitely go.

  • Dans Le Noir 4 October 2012 at 11:42 , by Zhao Yi

    As a common person, very few has imaged what would happy if I lose eyesight. However spending more and more in electronic readings, watching TV, playing games might cause us lose eyesight some day. Losing sight is not only losing eye sight but also losing confidence and many opportunities.

    Dans Le Noir restaurant is a very creative idea to make customers to eat in total darkness. As a normal person, you could feel and sense how you live if some day you lose your eye sight. Apart from that if you have an experience of living in a darkness for few hours, you might have more findings. Closing my eyes and supposing I am in that dark restaurant, I start feeling more peaceful and like to review myself and to find the real insight of myself.

    Apart from helping normal people, the other innovation is employing blind people to work in the restaurant. It helps them to get a work to improve their living condition but most importantly the blind people become more confident and feel equal to everyone else in the circumstances where they know surroundings better.

    I am really inspired by what Dans Le Noir does and love to share this ideas with many friends. Action start from respecting the blind people.

Location: Paris (France)

Sector: Accommodation and food service activities

Official website: http://www.danslenoir.com/

Key figures:

Restaurants: Paris, London, Barcelona, New York, Saint Petersbourg. Founder: Edouard de Broglie.

Nbr. visits: 427

Nbr. inspires: 2