Professor Gabriel Esquivel has been working on a fabrication project for a bistro and bakery in Bryan, Texas called La Riviera. The premise was to renovate the entry space of the restaurant; the scope included a new bar space, wall ornament and a ceiling installation. Due to an extremely tight budget, the team developed innovative processes to reduce costs while achieving the desired atmosphere.
It is an ambitious project that includes several fabrication techniques. The idea emerged from the bistro owner to create collaboration with Texas A&M University and donate the materials necessary for the project. The concept behind the project was to produce a new atmosphere more sensual and suitable for the type of food. Some of the sensibilities explored were pastries techniques like fondant, frosting and cake ornamentation. The reason behind the research was to produce a series of sensations using materialism and form or specific perceptions, sensations and actions, basically interpreting wall, furniture and ceiling surfaces as frosting and fondant with ornament on it.
The fabrication techniques were several using CNC as a main resource from flip milling for the counter after a layout script, to Z axis cutting for all the foam use on the walls finally the ceiling combined two techniques. To fabricate the skeleton, the ceiling was split into seven smaller sections (A-G), and decomposed further using the software Lamina. The decision to use a wire mesh served two purposes: first, it allowed the maximum amount of light to permeate its skin and second, the mesh provided a surface for the 4,000 flowers to be attached. The design began by folding pieces of pliable felt fabric into flower-like forms. After several iterations, the team digitized the form and further refined the design on the computer. The finished model was exported as an .STL file and sent to a lab in Mexico City that specializes in plastic-injection molding.
The project is to be opened the first week of September 2010 with great excitement from the community.