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Online Exclusive - Central Bar, Valencia

Jan 30, 2013

By Erinn Waldo, Photos by Fernando Alda


Valencia’s Central Market, one of the oldest running food markets in the world, now includes a tapas bar designed with the city’s eccentric personality in mind. Situated inside the contemporary Plaza del Mercado, Central Bar functions as a traditional bar twisted with a modern design. Francesc Rifé, founder of Barcelona-based Francesc Rifé Studio, designed the island bar to both accommodate shoppers and to blend with the marketplace environment. His solution: a modernist design filled with regionally inspired textures, finishes, and colors, one that both parallels chef Ricard Camarena’s cuisine and the market’s fresh, Spanish ingredients.

“I wanted to create raw material in its purest form,” says Rifé. “The inspiration came from the site itself.”
       
                                                                    
The avant-garde building served as the subject, while ceramic, a common material in Valencia, provided the main material. In some areas, small pieces of ceramic have been turned inside out for an irregular texture in terracotta. “Installing the piece on its backside and not in its vitrified part is an interesting game of textures, and it contrasts its rough parts with black, bright enamel,” says Rifé.  

                                            

Ceramic also appears along the multi-textured walls backing the bar, done in a black-colored glaze and placed in the form of a lattice. Characteristic of many ancient Mediterranean buildings, the black ceramic integrates burnt red, gray, and glazed black tones. “Pure ceramic, characterized by this clod-red color, [along] with the contrasting areas of black enamel, uses the essence of modernism,” says Rifé. “All other structural elements have been treated in the same dark color to define the contours and boundaries of the space.”

                                              
                                                                
The restaurant space forms an island in the bustling marketplace, with a perimeter counter, a glass-enclosed kitchen, and an enclosed space in the back for storage. Despite the initial space issues in Central Bar, Rifé adds that the greatest challenge is always to “integrate, organize, and balance.” The reddish walls contrast with the stainless steel kitchen, while upholstered, black-stained beech wood Twone stools, designed by Rifé, balance the differing wall textures.

                                       
                                                                 
The standouts: “The total integration of the space,” says Rifé. “[Diners can] enjoy the culinary ritual of manipulating local products in a small oasis in the midst of an urban hustle.”

                                       
                                   






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