Alumni Alejandra Lillo (M.Arch.II '04) has designed Bucato restaurant conveniently situated one block from the Metro Expo Line, in the iconic Beacon Laundry building in Culver City’s historic Helms Bakery. Helms is exemplary of the Zig-Zag Moderne Art Deco style, known for angular patterns, verticality and rich ornamentation. Bucato mediates between old world sensibilities, in many ways inspired by the Chef’s elemental approach to Italian cuisine, and modern processes of abstraction and construction.
The verticality of Bucato’s environment is intended to be reminiscent of sacred spaces, locating the pasta laboratorio in the privileged mezzanine (choir) space. The design expresses a dedication to sensorial enjoyment in addition to an honesty in its material expression. It is particularly focused on the visual, audio and tactile experience by using digitally driven execution techniques applied to rich, noble and traditional materials inspired by a color palette derived from chiaroscuro paintings. Echoing Funke’s approach to cooking, which often calls for no more than three to five ingredients per dish, the architecture similarly employs a reduced material and geometric palette. Baltic birch, American walnut, stainless steel, glass and off-white plaster compose the vast majority of the interior.
Two art pieces have been created from elements derived from the processes of production of the cuisine. The first, a large scale knife installation, outlines and identifies the farms where the food is grown. Bucato is dedicated to responsible husbandry practices and employs only the finest seasonally driven farm to table ingredients from local farmers. Using reclaimed butcher knives to identify geographic locations of the farms, the knife wall pays tribute to these significant components of the cuisine. The second, a large scale sculptural installation, floats within the two story space suspended above the dining area. This piece is made from long wooden rolling pins, matarellos, traditionally utilized in the dying art of Bolognese pasta fatto a mano, which will be practiced in the glass-enclosed pasta lab on the second floor adjacent to the sculpture.
Bucato’s architecture and design embodies the core values of the cuisine and focuses upon atmospheric dedication to the pursuit of true hospitality, the ultimate goal of which is to focus upon the guest and the enjoyment of the food. Intimate and uplifting, approachable yet luxurious, the design is an aestheticized reminder of the loving and laborious process behind each and every dish that is served within Bucato.