THE HEART OF...
Cultivating the marriage of cultures through design.
The Majestic Agave
Agave Uptown was named in homage to the agave plant, the vital ingredient in mezcal production. As a central Oaxacan commodity, the majestic agave plant serves as a cultural mainstay, supporting communities who rely on the cultivation of mezcal. Using similar techniques as ancient Zapotecs, the modern day farmer still uses a tool called the coa to remove the leaves from the piña – the heart of the agave plant – which is then roasted to garner the smokey flavors, crushed, mixed with water and allowed to ferment.
Housed on the ground floor of the Kapor Center for Social Impact, Agave Uptown is a 4,000-square-foot oasis filled with thoughtful design references that bring the history and diverse energy of Oaxaca, Mexico to Oakland, California. Alongside an authentic menu and inventive cocktails the intent to create windows into the culture of Oaxaca are evidenced by the cool blues and earthy reds found in the region’s food and landscape. Through a comprehensive approach to architecture, interior design and creative direction we were able to create a strong sense of place in the design of a space that draws many cultural parallels; dedicated craftsmen, artistry and narrative depth are inherent and distinguished characteristics of each locale.
Arcsine’s creative direction through brand development allowed a comprehensive approach to the design process, resulting in a rich and seamless experience of all that Agave Uptown has to offer.
DETAILS & RESULTS
The bar boasts a faceted display of folded steel planes woven and welded into a dazzling centerpiece. The intricate custom metalwork was inspired by the geometric folds of agave leaves and draws visitors to the energetic center of the restaurant. Behind the back bar itself, a glass wall with a delicate copper mesh veil separates the private dining room from the lively restaurant and offers a relaxed and intimate setting. Under a hickory wood canopy, generous banquette seating is clad in custom fabric inspired by Zapotec rug patterns. From the leather wrapped coas to the black clay and copper agave leaves on display, the private dining room pays tribute to the hard work and handcrafted heritage of Oaxacan farmers.
The main dining area is defined by a curved wall separating the restaurant from the Kapor Center. A custom curved banquette and angled tables offer flexibility for small and large groups to dine. Lapiztola, Oaxaca-based art collective, worked with the design team to create a compelling mural paying homage to the sharing of wisdom and tradition, the creation of mezcal, social empowerment and community.
Arcsine believes in the positive impact that home-grown pride, good design and good food has on the community, as well as with visitors. To ensure that Agave Uptown delivers a truly Oakland experience, Arcsine tapped into their network of inspired local creatives to commission artwork and décor for the restaurant. Peter St. Lawrence, a well-established Uptown artist and early collaborator of Art Murmur, created custom translucent porcelain lampshades, planters, votives and mezcal decanters. Geana Sieburger of GDS Cloth Goods, designed custom aprons and linen shirts for the staff members from her Oakland studio and Andrea Bacigalupo, crafted custom wall panels setting jicara gourds in translucent epoxy.
In many ways the marriage of cultures is often cultivated through design and Arcsine is proud to have played a part in firmly planting Agave Uptown, a home for authentic Oaxacan cuisine, into the diverse heart of Oakland.