‘We eat with our eyes’….
Let’s take a minute and really consider what this means. Traditionally we have associated this statement with the freshness of our food; the moment you can see all the amazing components of a dish in their individual state and the vast array of colours they collectively offer.
The truth is though, that freshness is in everything around us, it’s in our food, our fashion, our music, our art, our ideas, our attitudes and of course our architecture. What becomes particularly exciting is when there is a distinct and clear connection of freshness between two or more of these aspects at any one given time and the ability it has to excite our multitude of senses.
Bar Nou is exactly this, a clash of freshness; fresh food, fresh design and fresh architecture. Located in a city known well for its unorthodox and unique architecture, this Barcelona statement piece is ‘light and fresh’ in every sense of the term. A product of emerging architectural design quartet Maio, this small but eloquent tapas bar pays homage to the traditional Catalonian dish of ‘pa amb tomàquet’. Which for those who are unfamiliar is the amazing combination of toast, diced tomatoes, and top-shelf olive oil with garlic and salt; simple yet highly appealing, much like the design.
Whilst the team from Maio have managed to achieve a design which is blissfully simple, the more you break it down it’s actually full of complexities. For example the timber clad ceiling which has been arranged like a vault gives the bar an interesting sense of proportion and provides an air of ‘domesticity’, which comes back to the idea of tomatoes on toast at home. The complexity of the construction becomes even more evident through in the way the ceiling intersects with the front façade, making it an interesting feature rather than hidden, which opposes the usual way in which roofing structure is treated.
Maio have been very careful in exploring the scenographic qualities of the bar and have done this through the use of warping timber, mirrors and that unique ceiling design. By doing this they have been able to achieve a somewhat endless space within a small hole in the wall; which challenges the notion of compact European design and in particular Barcelona which has small sized city blocks to operate within and usually presents many design challenges.
The menu mimics the design and vice versa which always creates an interesting concept when two creative entities communicate directly with each other. The pa amb tomàquet is the hero and is served in a contemporary manner. This is a strong and consistent theme as it was a request of the owner that Bar Nou would be architected in such a way that it combined contemporary design with traditional approaches.
Honouring the old in a new way is what makes this project particularly exciting. How the pa amb tomàquet is prepared in itself is more like an act of ritual, as it’s done at what is best described as a dj-booth-looking-alter placed within the core of the space. An interesting concept which becomes more evident through the overwhelming use of marble which is most widely used in churches within Spain.
The furnishings are modern and sleek with hints of traditional Spanish domestic tradition. The lighting is purposeful and well thought out, from the down lighting over each table to the vibrant neon pictographs on the front façade which depict pictures of wineglasses, a carafe, a tomato, a loaf of bread and so cleverly draws the eyes of passers-by.
‘We eat with our eyes’, a concept that Bar Nou and the design team from Maio have now forced us to consider in a whole new light. - David Mousa.
It’s yet another example of the worlds of food, design and architecture colliding as this clever modern adaption of the pizza parlour has forever changed the way people grab a slice. Maybe it didn’t seem possible that this experience could be revolutionized yet a collaboration between Voodoo Ray’s and London based design consultancy firm Brinkworth has done exactly this.
The collaborative effort these two entities have come up with is mouth-watering both aesthetically and in taste. In every sense of the word Voodoo Ray’s is iconic.
Just as a pizza is modular and has an adaptable form, so does the architecture of this small quirky pizzeria. It’s a carefully constructed design, engineered to fit within the bounds of three shipping container units in Shoreditch’s award winning BOXPARK. Even the bold, striking, signage on the front and the fit-out has been modelled around the constraints of a container.
This form of design has a strong contextual importance as it sets a tone that Voodoo Ray’s can be moved and adapted to fit within a wide range of sites all around the world. It so successfully follows suit with a concept explored earlier by The Cool Hunter with the notion of ‘small is the new big’, as were seeing more pop-up stores and adaptive retail.
The pizzeria itself has a strong and recognizable interface that is both alluring and a great representation of what Voodoo’s stands for. They don’t appear to take themselves too seriously yet still offer vibrancy and colour; qualities which are consistently mimicked through their branding, menu and design.
It seems far more than just a slice of pizza, in fact Voodoo’s have found a clever way of making pizza an icon again; something maybe not seen since the days of folding your slice in half whilst you ate it because that’s what the ninja turtles did.
Everything has been thought out and the level of detail which has gone into the whole concept is impressive. For instance high bars have been implemented to create a unique bar style eating experience which fits within the modular set up.
Voodoo’s even has its own dynamic range of coloured tiles which provide a playful vibrancy to the whole scheme and Brinkworth have so carefully implemented materials in their design which pay homage not only to the brand but the shipping container which facilitates this unique concept.
It is no surprise that with such amazing design like this Brinkworth has been commissioned by the likes of Nike, Supreme, Ben Sherman, Selfridges, Carhartt WIP, Dabbous, LBi, Dinos Chapman, Converse, Karen Millen, Heineken, Tinello, Rapha, Google and Casio.
Voodoo Rays are currently in the process of evolving the brand further and locating to more permanent locations in the future. It truly is more than just a slice of pizza, it’s now that cool new place for people to meet and share a love of something so simple yet tasty. - David Mousa.
It's Asian cuisine engineered by a Cuban born and raised chef done with a Latin twist. It speaks true to the character of New York City as its innovative, appeals to the senses and runs the fine line between sophisticated and whimsical. There's a representation through the food of one man's dream to make it big in New York, this man being chef Luis Pous but more importantly it holds a much larger significance within a unique social context.
The menu is exquisite and genuinely original. From black bean & plantain empanadas to ginger & papaya marinated palomilla, there's something for every persons taste. What's most fascinating is how chef Pous has found intricate and delicate connections between two cuisines which traditionally have never mixed. It's a classic example of art imitating life as the worlds of innovation and cultural diversity have originated from within a social context and transferred into an exciting gastronomical experience. It's the New York mentality which has allowed such an amazing thing to occur.
The vision and inspiration behind the menu is particularly interesting as it's an exploration by chef Pous into the evolution of Cuban cuisine. His belief being that the menu he has developed is a representation of where Cuban food would be had they had access to a wider range of global ingredients within the past 50 years.
Food is only really half of this amazing tale though. The other 50% is in Asia de Cuba's sleek and modern design. Its clean, minimal, classical and a great interpretation of old Havana within a modern context. Conceived by renowned designer Rafael de Cárdenas this beautiful layout has characteristics of 1950's Hollywood, it's a little 'mad men', somewhere cool to escape the streets in salvation of a good drink and a nice meal.
The design evokes a seductive and hazy feeling which speaks true to Havana's gloried nightlife past. What Cárdenas has done so cleverly is managed to incorporate Asia de Cuba's personality back into the design without making it overcomplicated. There's touches of Cuba with Asian influences. This in many ways mimics how chef Pous has designed the menu and makes the whole experience even more special.
It's no surprise that Cárdenas has been commissioned by the likes of Barneys New York, Baccarat, Cartier, Nordstrom, Nike, Ford Models, and HBO.
Culture, food, cocktails and unique tastes; all within one of the most active metropolises in the world. Its original, new and ambitious; a perfect addition to the cultural landscape of New York City. - David Mousa.
The recently opened Casa Cavia in the Palermo Chico neighborhood of Buenos Aires is an enchanting fusion of sights, sounds, tastes and eras.
Now operating as a brand new assembly of a restaurant, publishing house, bookstore, flower shop and perfumery, Casa Cavia is housed in what was known as the Bollini Roca residence, designed in the gilded age of the 1920s as a personal gift to the owner’s wife by the Spanish-born architect and artist Alejandro Christophersen of Norwegian parentage.
The founder and creator of the Casa Cavia concept, Guadalupe Garcia Mosqueda with book publisher Ana Mosqueda asked London and San Francisco-based KallosTurin Architects to restore and transform the residence into a modern cultural center, yet retain the essence of the historical building.
The architects retained the room proportions and numerous details but they also included modern elements throughout. The material palette includes white and green marble, brass, antique mirror, leather and terrazzo flooring – all inspired by the city’s cafes of the 1920’s and 1930’s.
Our eyes are drawn to the golden details, the arches and rounded shapes, the muted green seating and, of course, the flying books in the ceiling.
Our favourite section is the elegantly proportioned inner garden-courtyard with its small pool. It forces us to grieve the lack of such elements in today’s urban planning. Where, indeed, are the lovely urban inner courtyards of today that don’t feel like shopping mall food courts?
Ana Mosqueda’s Ampersand Publishing is the inspiration and anchor of Casa Cavia. It produces books but is also a center to exchange ideas, recalling the publishers of Europe and Americas at the beginning of the 20th century. There is a hall for classes, conferences and book presentations along with a library focused on the history of books and written culture.
Guadalupe Garcia Mosqueda has drawn in the best new Argentine talent to create and host the various parts of the concept that aims to showcase the best of Buenos Aires while promoting architecture, gastronomy, design, literature and art.
For the perfumery she brought in Julian Bedel, “the nose of Argentina” to offer the fragrances of Fueguia 1833 perfumes. Casa Cavia’s signature scent will be Biblioteca De Babel, named after a short story by Jorge Luis Borges about an enormous library of interlocking rooms housing a vast collection of books.
Costume designer and art director Silvana Grosso creates amazing floral impressions Casa Cavia’s flower shop Flores Pasión while Próspero Velazco presides over the pâtisserie and revives the neighbourhood tradition of high tea.
Pablo Massey, a protégé of Argentina’s top culinary star, Francis Mallmann, helms Casa Cavia’s restaurant, La Cocina.
We believe – and hope - that these kinds of charming yet also extremely functional and useful “unrelated fusions” of various activities and offerings are one trend that is growing around the world. The fact that Casa Cavia, in addition to providing a fertile mixture, also restores and repurposes an important building makes this project that much more fabulous. - Tuija Seipell.
Last fall, José Miguel Herrera and Nuria Morell closed their popular SushiHome restaurant in Valencia, Spain. Fans and patrons were surprised, but they did not have to wait long for the answer.
In December, the couple opened Nozomi Sushi Bar in the funky Ruzafa neighbourhood of the city.
For interior design and branding of their new venture, they employed Valencia-based creative consultancy Masquespacio established in 2010 by Ana Milena Hernández Palacios and Christophe Penasse.
The founders selected the name Nozomi, popular for restaurants and businesses, including the Japanese bullet train. It is a lovely word with dual connotations. The word itself means wish or hope in Japanese and with the bullet-train implications, it also signifies efficiency and modern lifestyle. The whole project was then envisioned around two concepts, ‘emotional classic’ and ‘rational contemporary.’
In the 233 square-metre (2508 sq.ft) space, Hernández Palacios, creative director for this project, managed to evoke the feel of a Japanese street. “We have been studying photography from the most authentic Japanese streets with the aim to create a reinterpretation on a metaphoric way of those streets,” she says. Nozomi Sushi reminds many people of a typical street in Kyoto where traditional Japanese houses are well preserved.
The best feature of the restaurant is the overall quiet balance. It does not appear to be trying too hard like so many concepts today. Instead, it feels natural and coherent with its light-weight wood slats, shelves and partitions contrasted with the strong and solid concrete features.
We love the entrance where the slanted-roof overhang creates a nice play with scale. The otherwise quite basic doorway now appears both inviting and intriguing.
Inside, the chefs ply the ancient trade of sushi – the original fast food – behind a neutral bar with a fantastic origami-inspired cherry-tree-blossom ceiling above them. - Tuija Seipell.
Photography: David Rodríguez y Carlos Huecas.
Mention caviar and champagne, and most of us will think of opulent, lavish environments, luxury bling and furs, high heels, tuxedoes.
But not so in Helsinki. Finland-born, Los Angeles-educated and now Helsinki-based designer Jonna Laajisto took the Finnish approach: She focused on creating an understated setting and fitted it to respond to the historical harbour environment. And left out everything else.
Laajisto was commissioned by the Finnish fish and seafood purveyor Savu-Kari to create a caviar (and roe and oyster) shop and restaurant in one of the most enviable locations in Helsinki, Eteläranta 20, overlooking the main harbour where the commuter ferries and sight-seeing boats dock and depart for the archipelago, and right across from the city’s famed open-air public market (Kauppatori) and the recently renovated and re-opened Old Market Hall (Kauppahalli).
She adorned the tiny 45 square-metre (485 sq.ft) space with only the essentials: a few tables, chairs, counter, shelves - all Finnish origin. We love the tiled floors, aged clip boards for menus, minimalist lighting and unpretentious chairs, as it all harkens back to the Old Market Hall feel yet with a lovely modern urban seaside café essence.
The only real touch of colour comes from the blue Rocket stools designed by Eero Aarnio and available at Artek.
Finlandia Caviar has only 11 seats plus four more outside (when the snow thaws) and it is also available for private events, such roe-tastings and parties.
Various types of caviar and roe are served straight from the tin, nestled in ice, accompanied by crackers and truffle cream. And of course champagne or vodka.
Jonna Laajisto is also responsible for the design of Minna Parikka Universum, the Helsinki (and only) retail boutique of our favourite Finnish ladies’ shoe brand. It is also an understated, minimalist white shell that offers up Minna’s fun, limited-edition shoes like pearls inside an oyster. - Tuija Seipell.
The interior design of the 80 square metre (861 sq.ft.) space is by Isabel López Vilalta.
We love how the cozy, traditional taverna atmosphere is first achieved with the reclaimed wood, felt-coated walls (great for for acoustics as well as appearance), unpretentious furniture and colourful cushions, and how it is then nicely balanced with the sleek, hard, white floor and bar to conjure up a casual, urban ambiance.
We are especially spellbound by the large, spindly pendant lighting fixtures by Arik Levy. There’s just something adorably clumsy and benignly spooky about them. Plus they remind us of the Black Widow spider lady in Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride. - Tuija Seipell.
Images: Alejo Bagué.
Chef-owner Heinz Reitbauer is a member of the Reitbauer family that operates the famous Steirereck restaurant and the Meierei café beneath it in Vienna, and the Pogush Country Inn in Styria, in the southeast of Austria.
His family’s latest contribution to the Austrian culinary excellence is the complete and spectacular renovation of Steirereck that consistently places among the top of the world’s 50 best restaurants list.
In 2005, the Reitbauers moved Steirereck from its home of 35 years in Weißgerbe Lände to Vienna, and took up the former Milchhauspavilion, an Art Nouveau or Jugendstil dairy that overlooks the lush Stadtpark and its Wienfluss promenade. They renovated the building completely prior to opening to the public.
In 2012, the owners announced an open competition to, once again, completely re-imagine the storied restaurant to meet the needs of the ever-demanding, world-travelled, upscale restaurant clientele, and to respond to the demands of a busy kitchen as well.
Viennese architecture firm PPAG architects won the competition with its innovative solution that began the development of the new restaurant environment not from a space that will contain tables, but from an individual table and its connection to its surroundings.
In the new pavilion, formed of long, molecular fingers, each table is flanked by its individual wooden background wall and located against an outer wall. This gives every table the feeling of being private but also connected to the park outside and the rest of the dining area and kitchen inside.
This rearrangement of functions and addition of space did not increase the number of seats – it remained at about 80 - but the main dining hall of the old dairy building with its newly flexible configuration of tables and partitioning now provides additional event space, and all of the inner functions of the restaurant, from food preparation and patisserie to washing, test kitchen and staff areas have been improved and expanded as well.
Wood, glass and reflective metal are the main visual elements of the new Steirereck that now nearly conceals the Milchhauspavilion yet appears to take up very little additional space. - Tuija Seipell.
Good coffee was not on an average consumer’s radar in 1971, when the story of the brand now known as Starbucks began. This was the case especially in North America where coffee culture was nonexistent.
That all started to change when Howard Schultz bought Starbucks in 1987 and started its expansion outside Seattle with the first outside the U.S. store opening that same year in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Today, Starbucks is the largest coffeehouse company in the world with about 23,500 stores in 65 countries. With the changes in lifestyles around the world, Starbucks’s idea of the local coffee shop being the “third place” between work and home has really become a reality.
Working, meeting and cooperating at coffee shops has become the norm, as has the lingo of special coffees as customers around the world order tall skinny lattes fluently.
What Starbucks has also done is open the market for smaller specialized coffee shops for those markets where the giants don’t want to go, and for those customers who don’t want the same old, standardized stores, at least not all the time.
As a result, we see daily examples of new, stylish, individual and small-chain coffee shops that manage to feel appealing even to the consumers that are by now completely coffeed-out.
And, Starbucks itself creates original concepts to fit special locations.Leaving no market or location un-Starbucked, the brand opened an amazing shop at the main entrance to the Dazaifu Tenman-gū, one of the most revered Shinto shrines in Japan.
About two million visitors a year trek to the shrine, established in 919 A.D. To match the task at hand, Starbucks recruited the 60-year-old Japanese master architect and master of the wooden slats, Kengo Kuma.
Kuma used 2000 wooden slats to weave a latticework structure that encases the entire four-meter (13 ft.) high space, creating a nest or a cave. The latticework reflects traditional Japanese architecture and fits harmoniously among the traditional buildings of the area.
In the last decade, we have covered many coffee shops that stand out. These include D’Espresso
that opened in 2010 in New York and made waves with its startling floors and ceilings covered in images of books. The Manhattan-based designers at Nemaworkshop took their cue from the nearby New York Public Library’s Bryant Park branch and went delightfully bookish.
At the edge of Little Italy on Manhattan, A New Zealand coffee culture is brewing. Luke Harwood, one of the founders of Happy Bones café on Broome Street is also one of the founders of Kiwi fashion brand Stolen Girlfriends Club.
Originally, in 2012, Harwood and artist Jason Woodside satisfied their obsession with great coffee in a space at the back of a retail boutique on Bond Street.
Then Harwood and Woodside were joined by New Zealand’s power couple Craig Nevill-Manning (Google's engineering director in NY) and wife Kirsten (previously of Facebook and Google) and now Happy Bones is its own independent little box offering espresso, art publications and an eclectic mix of retro design pieces.
We love the white-painted brick walls that make the little shoebox seem so bright and clean.
Coffee Bar’s tiny Kearny Street shop by Jones Haydy sits right at the entrance to a large parking garage and caters to the busy people of the Financial District.
It is also located on a stretch of street that has suffered from vacancies and neglected lots, and the store is optimistically attempting to bring life back to the area.
Adorned with lovely wooden walls, some of which are scorched with the Japanese Shou Sugi Ban technique that prolongs the life of the wood, the shop still retains the slightly rough industrial air with its minimalistic furnishings and exposed-concrete features.
Another San Francisco favourite is the three-location Sightglass Coffee Bar & Roastery.
The flagship coffee bar, company headquarters and roaster are now located at 270 Seventh Street in San Francisco’s SoMa neighbourhood in a restored building dating back to 1925.
The building remains unchanged outside – it’s still an ugly concrete cube – but the inside exudes the company’s artisanal expertise and obsessive focus on all things coffee.
The fabulous, multi-level building took its new shape through cooperation between Sightglass owners Justin and Jerad Morrison and Seth Boor of Boor Bridges Architecture.
Saint Frank Coffee is yet another great San Francisco renovation, located in the historic Russian Hill neighbourhood at 2340 Polk Street.
The boxy shape of the space is nicely divided with wood paneling and bright white walls that draw the eye to the center of action - the white coffee bar.
Far from San Francisco’s coffee culture, Origo Coffee Shop in Bucharest, Romania, features the same kind of great restored surroundings and smooth expanses of wood paneling .
Local architecture and design studio Lama Arhitectura discovered beautiful wood beams underneath the layers of plaster and these beams became the hanging posts for the 270 teacups that hang above the bar.
The space is a coffee shop by day and a bar by night and the solid-oak bar can be raised from sit-down height to stand-up height accordingly.
Paris is also renewing its coffee culture among stiff traditions and competition. The creative minds at L'Hôtel de Vendôme in Paris set their eyes on “High Coffee.” They don’t call it that, but it certainly looks and feels like it.
Every afternoon, superior gourmet coffee varieties are served accompanied by dainty carts full of mouth-watering sweet delicacies created with the supervision of Luc Debove, Chef Pâtissier of the Grand Hotel of Cap Ferrat.
Adding to the High Tea feel, the coffee is served in the hotel’s deliciously prissy first-floor restaurant, with its magnificent views of Place Vendôme. When the restaurant opened in 2009, it was Florence-based architect Michele Bönan’s first restaurant and hotel project in France.
The two men leading the Paris coffee revolution are Frenchman Antoine Netien and his Australian partner Tom Clarke. They opened their first Café Coutume in Paris in 2011, and brought a cool and playful sense of ‘science’ to the coffee shop.
Clean white surroundings, glass beakers and coffee origins marked in scientific-like abbreviations, such as ‘Gu’ for Guatemala.
They have since expanded in France and recently opened their first Japanese café in Tokyo’s Aoyama district.
To design this store, they invited CUT Architecture that designed their original flagship and the coffee cart for the Finnish Institute in Paris.
The Tokyo store repeats the science theme with white tiles, glass beakers and a lovely pattern of squares everywhere. The ceiling lattice and lighting, the shape of the tables, the shelving, the tiles, all bring a sense of order and harmony. Tuija Seipell
See also The Rise of the Designer Bakery
Texas-born, Atlanta-based chef-turned-restaurateur, Ford Fry, continues to enrich Atlanta’s dining offering.
Earlier this year, his Rocket Farm restaurant group opened its fifth restaurant, St. Cecilia, in The Pinnacle building in Buckhead, in the space previously occupied by Bluepointe.
To design the establishment that has room for nearly 200 in total, Fry selected Meyer Davis Studio http://www.meyerdavis.com/about/ of New York, established in 1999 by Will Meyer and Gray Davis. Fry has used the same studio for his King + Duke restaurant.
Meyer Davis’s work on prestigious retail and hospitality projects includes the revamp of W Lakeshore in Chicago and Paramount in New York, plus Oscar de la Renta’s boutiques worldwide and John Varvatos stores in New York and Las Vegas.
St. Cecilia’s most redeeming feature is the scale and the satisfying feel of pattern and repetition. The first impression is that of order without severity and spaciousness without the unwelcoming feel of coldness.
The space is high, the sightlines clear and wide with lots of natural light. Seating and tables, shelves and bottles, and rows of pendant lighting fixtures all add to the sense of harmony and tidiness, yet there are spots of whimsy and little surprises at every turn.
Bits and pieces of mementoes, old medicine bottles, old books, a plank of aged wood, a darkened painting leaning against a wall, a stuffed bird on a side board.
These details neutralize the newness and create a comfortable visual link to something old and somewhat Mediterranean, an appropriate context for the Italian-inspired menu.
And of course we love the black-and-white colour scheme, always a harmonious back drop for creative sparks.
In addition to St. Cecilia, Ford Fry also operates JCT Kitchen, No. 246, The Optimist, and King + Duke, all in Atlanta. He is rumored to be planning his sixth and seventh restaurants in Krog Street Market and in the Avalon in Alpharetta, Atlanta. Tuija Seipell