PHILOSOPHY_ At some point as we grow up we lose the ability to have fun and play, at some point everything becomes serious and a protocol. Our parents tell us "do not play with food", "stop playing and behave", "grow up". And so we assume that being an adult is to stop playing and start being serious, having fun starts to be a more elaborate experience. La Mesa is a space we have designed with the will to have fun with the everyday experience, where there are no rules or protocols defined since the flexible and dynamic space allows the curious adult to have fun through gastronomy. Where the ingredients stop being pretentious and the experience of eating becomes a game again. The will of the founders was to generate a space that could absorb everything but that had character, that the user will find a sense of familiarity, comfort and surprise within a new space. It falls short to define La Mesa as a restaurant, bar or atelier since it is the sum of these and many more activities that define and generate Panamanian cuisine.
INTERIOR DESIGN_ In order to satisfy the client's demands and comply with the wide functional program that will be developed in the premises, it was necessary to design a space that was as dynamic as possible. The original house, articulated in several closed and poorly lit spaces, was not adapted to this new function. Two important interventions in the original house, the demolition of a central structural wall and the demolition of part of the roof and its reconstruction to a greater height, allowed to obtain a sufficiently ample space in where to develop the project. Through the design of custom furniture, it was possible to articulate the space in different scenarios in order to modify the area each time it was required. So in the open space we find La Cocina, which consists of an island with three work stations, the only fixed element, which serves to prepare food during events, but at the same time, being fully integrated with the rest of the open space, it also serves to the cooking classes and courses. At the same time we find a central element that functions as a support table and stools in its closed configuration but when opened it serves as seats for the public to use it during video projections, mixology classes or tastings in La Barra. La Barra, which is on the opposite side of the kitchen, in its closed configuration is integrated into the niche, when it is opened it allows to be used for mixology events or wine and coffee tastings, or simply as a support bar for buffet. The space is completed by two consoles, which can be opened at the same time forming a large table, placed in a central position, for formal dinners of up to twenty people. At the entrance of La Mesa the visitor meets "PANAMÁ GASTRONÓMICO", an artistic reinterpretation of the map of Panama made using different kitchen utensils as a tribute to the local culinary culture that varies depending on the region but can be found at the tables of the Panamanians. There is also La Oficina which is a coworking for six people, mainly part of the team that works in the premises.
FACADE_ To unify the disorganized volume of the facade of the original house, resulting from the addition of several parts that were added over time, we decided to design a new skin, a wrapper that would unify the facade and let you clearly understand what volume of the house belong to the local object of the remodeling. We decided to use for this new skin, two elements, alternated in vertical stripes, of different sizes. One made with ornamental cement blocks, homage and memory of a typical element of Panamanian architecture, used to make facades that allowed access to light and natural ventilation. The other made with edible green walls, tribute to the activity that will take place inside the premises. Yellow cucumbers were used for the vines, for the and for the flowerpots tomatoes, peppers, basil, mint, thyme and lemon grass.
MATERIALS AND MEMORY_ The design concept was to try to use simple elements and materials for the house, trying to leave, where possible, original elements that could be witnesses of the memory of the house. For this reason, both the paving and the walls are made with polished cement and the original wooden ceiling and a wall (in La Oficina) have been left with the various layers of the different paintings that over the years had been applied to the house. Following the concept of reuse, of giving new life and new use to the original house, we decided to use recycled materials for custom-made furniture. Therefore, the stands are completely made with packing wood, while La Barra and the envelope of the island, were made with Terrazzo plates or locally known as congrani, material normally used for floors that reutilizes the chips of marble.