When Spanish restaurateur and hotelier Tomás Tarruella decided to open Barcelona’s first upmarket vegetarian eatery, he once again turned to Brazilian architect Isay Weinfeld to design the interior.
It was a reunion for the team responsible for the Juana la Loca restaurant in the Colombian capital of Bogotá, quickly hailed as the city’s most beautiful dining space when it opened in 2014. For Green Spot, located in a previously abandoned building in the Barceloneta neighborhood, the client wanted an informal and intimate space that, says Weinfeld, “did not just appeal to the vegetarian public.”
Working with Lucas Dualde Jimeno, a Spanish architect in his São Paulo office, Weinfeld turned what he describes as “a large, difficult space filled with columns” into a series of cozy niches by carving a vaulted ceiling out of the low, arched room. The design team used materials found in Barcelona architecture. “I never enter a place without knowing where I am,” says Weinfeld, emphasizing his respect for local characteristics.
A long, oak-lined entrance hall passes by a copper-topped bar at table height. Here, seated guests are served by bar staff standing on a sunken floor. The path then leads into the dining area, where traditional Catalan glazed earthen floor tiles and European walnut set a relaxed and comfortable tone. Rough linen, used for the upholstered seating, enhances the room’s acoustics; and an eclectic variety of chairs, tables, and light fixtures lend the sense of bonhomie requested by the client.
The architects penetrated the walls at strategic points to create glazed openings on to a garden located in the building’s interior courtyard, its lush green perfectly offset by the interior’s earth tones. According to Weinfeld, “I do not like to undertake projects that do not involve comfort. I cannot do something that is only beautiful but does not call out to people, that does not leave them with the desire to come and frequent a place.”
The architect, recently selected by the owners of the Four Seasons restaurant in New York to design its new location (RECORD, July 2016), aims to craft a similarly inviting, albeit more luxurious, aura for that iconic establishment when it reopens late next year. He hopes, he says, “to achieve the same refinement and understated elegance that dazzled people for so many decades.”