Commissioned by local restaurant, La Riviera was to renovate the entry space of the restaurant, the scope included a new bar, 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.
The bar uses three off-the-shelf cabinets as its base, each one measuring 60” long x 25” wide x 40” high. Additional 2x4s provided reinforcement against the heavy loads of the laminated countertop, front panels and foam ornament. The countertop extends the full length of the bar to form one cohesive module out of the individual components. Designed not to compete with the other pieces, the countertop is a flat surface with a slight dip at one end to allow for the display of a dessert tray. Once we arrived at the final form, the model of the countertop was sectioned and the pieces were nested together to reduce material waste during the milling process using a CNC router. The countertop is built entirely out of sheets of ¾” medium density fiberboard (MDF). After cutting, the team laminated the pieces together, sanded them smooth and finished them with several coats of lacquer. The designers took painstaking effort to retain the horizontality of the countertop by reducing the visibility of joints in the wood. They produced a template that spread the joints evenly across the length of the counter to eliminate a singular joint line that stopped the eye from moving along the entire length of the countertop.
Two 4’ x 8’ sheets of milled MDF attach to the front of the cabinets to create the façade of the bar. The panels attach to the cabinets using 6” long 3/8” diameter hanger-bolts spaced out to distribute the weight across the whole structure. The panels can detach if the bar needs to be relocated.
Foam Ornament (Bar):
On the top of the countertop rests a golden ornament. The ornament needed to be extremely durable to resist damage due to its close proximity to guests. Therefore, the team chose an 18 lb polyurethane foam, which was both strong and easily formed. The piece had to be sectioned to fit within the 4” depth restriction caused by the length of the end mill on the CNC. After cutting, the pieces were glued together using epoxy and reinforced with metal dowels. The entire piece went through several stages of sanding to remove any blemishes and was finished with a coat of golden car paint.
Foam Ornament (Wall):
The ornament on the wall was fashioned out of lighter 2 lb polyurethane foam in order to stay mounted to the wall and also it was not within reach of guests coming in and out of the restaurant. The elaborate pieces were modeled in maya and split to fit onto sheets of 4’x8’ x 4” blocks of foam. After several stages of sanding and coated with a compound to remove any blemishes, they were painted with golden car paint.
The ceiling serves as an atmospheric installation blanketing the entire entry space. The light source is masked by layer of translucent forms, which diffuses the light casting an even glow over the entire space. To achieve this affect, a wire mesh forms the skeleton of the ceiling. 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 flowers to attach. The drawback of using the wire mesh came from trying to construct a double-curved surface out of planar sheets. To fabricate this, the ceiling was split into seven smaller sections (A-G), and decomposed further using the software Lamina. This software approximated the 3D geometry by generating a number of 2D parts. These parts were labeled, cut out and joined together using a weaving technique to form the skeleton.
4,000 plastic-injection molded flowers populate the skin of the wire mesh. 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 a stereolithography file (STL) and sent to a factory in Mexico City that specializes in plastic-injection molding. The factory produced a cast from our model out of solid aluminum blocks. The cast is made up of an A-side and a B-side. Melted resin is forced into the two halves of the mold and pressed together under intense heat. This causes the plastic to harden quickly. The finished piece is ejected into a receptacle and the process is repeated.