Some might go to a bar to get a relaxing drink after work.
But at Bar Raval, Toronto’s pintxos hotspot located in the city’s Little Italy district, visitors can expect much, much more – architects from PARTISANS have created an art piece and a space that is quickly becoming a local must-see institution.
Canadian culinary impresario Grant van Gameron and his partner Mike Webster, the Bar Raval owners, entrusted PARTISANS with bringing their ambitious vision to fruition. And they got more than they bargained for.
“From the early, conceptual planning, all the way through to the final stages of construction, they pushed us to envision beyond what we imagined possible,” says van Gameron.
Yes, Bar Raval is a tapas-style bar, fashioned after similar ones found in Spain. However, that’s where the comparison ends, really. The design itself developed out a connection between the formal histories of art nouveau, the plethora of cured slabs of meat, and the anatomy of the chefs themselves – a tattooed group of intellectuals. And the design in a three-dimensional tattoo manifest in sculpted CNC’d mahogany.
Architect Alex Josephson, the co-founder of PARTISANS, says his team likes to think of themselves as “alchemists.”
“We are committed to constant exploration, no matter what the functional or material challenges,” he explains. “This project and another called Grotto Sauna are testament to our dedication to controlling all sorts of matter; in these cases that happened to be wood carved in totally innovative ways.
“But this is just the tip of the iceberg for us. They just happen to be wooden. In contrast, our other work coming online soon will be completely different.”
He says PARTISANS feels wood is a timeless material that lives beyond trend or fashion.
“In that sense, I believe that sophisticated wood design resonates as a sustainable material purely in its lifespan and resiliency. Saying that, we have had to invent new technologies and methods with working in wood, but it’s been an incredibly interesting learning process.”
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