Bar Raval

Bar Raval

Client: Grant van Gameren, Mike Webster & Robin Goodfellow

Scale: 1,980 sq ft (185 sq m)

Budget: Withheld

Type: Commercial, Bar/Restaurant

Location: Toronto, Canada


Carefully hewn from what look like Mobius strips of sinuous mahogany, Bar Raval is a 21st-century reinterpretation of Spanish Art Nouveau that introduces Toronto to the pintxo bar, a cornerstone of social and gastronomic culture in Basque Country.

The client charged us with executing an ambitious task: “create an art piece” that would become an enduring culinary and civic institution. We interpreted the directive through two aesthetic lenses: Spanish design and the physicality of the three owners who became our muses. Thus, Raval’s sculptural sentience pays direct homage to tattooed musculature in the context of Art Nouveau tropes and craftsmanship reimagined for contemporary Toronto.

The fluid smoothness of the final product belies the rigorous R&D required to achieve the vision. Ultimately, we synchronized efforts with fabricators and software engineersto rewrite software patches that would enable the customization of toolpaths to execute sculptural engravings on complex 3D surfaces. The result: 9km of serpentine engravings on 75 panels of seamlessly aligned wood.

Bar Raval’s soft curves foster intimacy, fluidity, and community. A series of 3D “tattooed limbs” enfold patrons in a warm mahogany embrace, and their rippling surfaces encourage patrons to lean into and become part of the woodwork.