Client: Grant van Gameren, Mike Webster & Robin Goodfellow
Scale: 1,980 sqft
Location: Toronto, Canada
Carefully hewn from what look like unbroken Mobius strips of sinuous mahogany, Bar Raval is a 21st-century reinterpretation of Spanish Art Nouveau. The brainchild of celebrated Canadian chef Grant van Gameren and wunderkind mixologists Mike Webster and Robin Goodfellow, Raval introduces Toronto to the pintxo bar, a cornerstone of social and gastronomic culture in Basque Country.
Van Gameren charged us with an ambitious task: to create “an art piece” that would become an enduring institution. In a stand-up-only environment, the rippled—and rippling—surfaces encourage patrons to get comfortable, lean into their soft edges, and become a part of the woodwork. Raval’s molten quality fosters fluid circulation and close encounters, honouring the spirit of its Spanish pintxo counterparts.
In order to achieve a sculptural, almost sentient, aesthetic, we worked closely with our fabrication partner, MCM Inc., and the software engineers at Mastercam to innovate the milling process. Ultimately, we synchronized our efforts to develop customized toolpaths that would generate over 9km of engravings on 75 panels of wood.
The bar’s design pays direct homage to the physicality of its three owners. The result: A series of three-dimensional tattooed “limbs” that enfold patrons in a warm mahogany embrace. Passers-by can also admire the artistry—the handcrafted steel latticework we designed to clad the front and side windows. But like van Gameren’s mouth-watering pinxtos, the filigree only offers a tantalizing taste of what lies within.