Vancouver-based design studio Ste. Marie Art + Design devised a tapas bar that champions relaxed, tightly-packed gathering over formal tête-à-tête meals. As the story goes, the overarching design was inspired by historic Spanish standing-room-only tapas eateries of Barcelona‘s Poble Sec neighborhood and the La Latina quarter of Madrid.
In particular, one of the former historic reference points was “Jardins de les 3 Xemeneies” (Gardens of the Three Chimneys), a public park that was once home to the 20th century Barcelona Traction power plant operated by the Canadian utility company, Light and Power Company Limited (locally known as La Canadiense). As the name suggests, the three chimneys or the “jardines de las tres chimeneas” are all that remains of the former utility plant. Public squares, graffiti-adorned walls, and a skatepark lie beneath the bric-a-brac smokestacks. The story serves as a kind of reverse cultural reappropriation, a contemporary decoupage of Catalonia’s Canadian establishment, characterized within the interior of a Spanish tapas bar.
Straying away from an ornately sumptuous aesthetic, Como Taperia’s decorative scheme is relaxed, but not unkempt. Haphazard notches and nitches hold food and beverage paraphernalia in a colloquial display. Meanwhile, a neutral material palette comprises earthy square wall tiles that resemble exposed brick, timber and rust-hued marble tabletops, wooden bar stools, and a taupe backrest that extends from a buffet table to the wall in an almost cartoon-like execution.
With a nod to the Spanish painter Miró, pithy splashes of cobalt blue were applied to functional design elements while abstract and colorful globs dress up decorative furnishings. Franco-German artist Jean Arp makes an appearance in whimsical terracotta vessels, reminiscent of his sculptures—their forms occupy space as if they had an inner life force of their own. Finally, the countertops, which could be made of quartz, marble, or some other kind of natural stone, look just like those found in a classic Spanish tapas bar—a truly literal detail reinterpreted within the context of present-day Vancouver.