How We Are Ona is Reviving Fine Dining

We Are Ona blends interior design and gastronomy to serve up remarkable dining experiences – and the art and fashion worlds are hungry for more.

An old taxidermy workshop, the terrace of a chateau and the interior of an old water reservoir are just some of the incredibly unique locations in which culinary studio We Are Ona has developed immersive dining experiences.

Luca Pronzato, a sommelier, restaurateur and founder of We Are Ona, merges art, design and gastronomy to create an almost surrealist dinner for his guests. In Paris, guests have sat at a cross-like table adorned with moss and grass within the Jardin des Tuileries, while in Los Angeles, in the art deco façade of the former Howard Hughes headquarters, diners were served an eight-course meal.

Pronzato founded We Are Ona in 2019, seeking to shake up the fine dining industry. He saw an opportunity to create pop-up spaces around the world that offer quality food from local producers, cooked by established and up-and-coming chefs, in an environment designed by artists. We Are Ona pop-ups offer a space for those within the art, fashion and design worlds to convene – a modern approach to the salon of centuries past.

Aiming to be at the heart of these moments of convergence, in the past We Are Ona presented experiences at the Fondazione Sozzani, Salone del Mobile (Milan Furniture Fair), and the Venice Biennale. Most recently, We Are Ona developed a pop-up in collaboration with Art Basel. The first chapter of the series, which will show in Paris, Miami, and Hong Kong, took place in Basel during the past weekend, in partnership with designer Pierre Marie and Michelin Green Star chef Sayaka Sawaguchi. Located in the former Rhine water purifier, the space, designed by Marie, was ornamented with decorative fabrics, mood lighting and a long banquet table, setting an atmosphere for the evening that verged on medieval.

We Are Ona x Matter and Shape at the Jardin des Tuileries

How did you come up with the concept of We Are Ona?

L.P I come from a family background where culinary traditions are deep rooted. After my experience at Noma as a sommelier, where innovation meets excellence, I had a vision and felt the need to try to update the fine dining experience. I felt there were more ways to experience culinary moments. I wanted to showcase and reveal remarkable emerging talents. At the core of this vision is the quality of the service and providing a unique moment to our guests.

It’s evident the concept really resonated with the art and fashion industries. Why do you feel that is?

L.P I think that We Are Ona culinary adventures resonate with creativity. This includes architecture, design, art and fashion, indeed. I’m passionate about all the above. We Are Ona probably also reflects our times of transversal creativity and collaboration.

How do you decide which chefs and designers to work with? 

L.P I’ve been in the culinary industry for quite some time now and I’ve been lucky to meet countless amazing chefs around the world. They inspire me. Also, revealing emerging talents has been at the core of our DNA. It’s a matter of timing, opportunity and relevance. Same for artists. Also, my wife is very knowledgeable about it and [this has] been precious to me.

How do you match up a particular chef with a particular designer for each experience?

L.P It’s free-flowing organically from relations I develop through times. I try to construct a vision that builds on the time and place which kind of dictates a direction.

Why do you feel immersive dining experiences have had an increase in interest in the past couple of years?

L.P I believe experience is the new luxury. The way we gather matters and at We Are Ona we take that seriously.

We Are Ona x Art Basel

What drew you to the idea of creating a pop-up at Art Basel?

L.P Art Basel is a world-leading art fair with great history that gathers an immense community of remarkable creatives. What better place to propose innovative ideas and experiences?

You previously created one in the same space, Filter4. How did you go about creating a totally unique experience for this year’s pop-up?

L.P We love this space. Its location, the surroundings and its specificity makes it unique and unexpected. The challenge to create something new and very different from previously in the same space is the kind that drives us.

As your popups occur worldwide, have you noticed any particular cultural differences in dining experiences, expectations or rituals from one place to the next?

L.P Yes for sure. Every place brings its own specifics. I could start with the time people take to eat. When in New York, we have to increase our rhythm in order to keep it shorter, as American don’t take as much time as us French, for example.

Where do you see the future of immersive dining heading?

L.P I don’t know but I don’t think it’s a race. I feel it must simply answer authentic feelings and serve a generous purpose.

What is something that you hope to leave people with after they experience a We Are Ona dinner?

L.P Hopefully our guests can leave nourished, soothed and stimulated at the same time. That would already be a great achievement.

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