Chemistry is inseparable from the art of creating pastry in the French tradition. The union of science and aesthetics underlies the design for this San Diego patisserie. Perforations carved into aluminum façade screens abstract the image of flour, the most basic element in baking. LUCE et Studio’s confection is created through the alchemy of steel, aluminum, glass and wood. In the foreground, an urban court presents the powerful façade of Extraordinary Desserts to an emerging downtown neighbourhood. The patisserie indulges the visitor with sensory and tactile stimulation; a fitting precursor to the act of eating cake. The façade screen, perforated with macro-sized molecular ovals, encourages the visitor to pass through, beginning the fantasy that is indulgence. Shade and shadow play with the experience of passing through this skin. A low yet wide portal is cut into the façade and a glass pivot door opens with magical quality. Immediately one is confronted with cake, elegantly displayed on slabs of northwest cedar and honed limestone.
Running south to north, crossing the entry is the display of all things ‘sweet’. Passing through this public border, one is met by a long bar oriented east to west that offers those things ‘savory’. Seemingly contrasting flavours of sugar and salt merge at the point where one enters the inner sanctum of the restaurant. The soft textured wood of the dessert display crosses an ethereal plane of etched glass that is the wine bar.
Throughout the space, long linear tracks holding steel elements meant to line the space with layers of visual composition. Passing through the entry wall, tall steel shelving systems hang to tempt the urban visitor with gourmet food selections. At the bar, suspended steel planes that display wines, teas and coffees compliment the food. At the side alley façade, three large glass panels framed in steel slide away on tracks to reveal an intimate court where dining is connected to the perfect climate of the city. Finally, opposite the entry looking west, finely carved cedar panels float to shield the restaurant from back of house. The wood screen references the façade with only a wisp of the oval perforation evident at the top of the panels.
These linings contribute to an intimate enclosure, defining a dining space that houses many and yet feels very personal. An extraordinary delight can be enjoyed in a space that further articulates the notions of fantasy and indulgence; biting into the forbidden fruit is well worth the guilt.