A Spanish Restaurant Worthy of a Michelin-Starred Chef

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Poplar wood and circular holes carve out a unique ambience at Habitual, Ricard Camarena’s new restaurant in Valencia, designed by Francesc Rifé Studio.

Circles are everywhere at Habitual, a new comfort food restaurant in Valencia designed by the Barcelona-based Francesc Rifé Studio. The shape is loaded with meaning and function, and one of the most naturally pleasing forms to look at. Here, circular holes cover walls, filter sound, house lighting, and give a sense of mystery and voyeurism to the space through screened walls that separate tables.

The circle, the studio points out, is one of the most important shapes in gastronomy, too, and a guiding principle to the project. Here the shapes, which vary in size, also punch out artful designs on walls, and double as wine holders. A warehouse and teaching kitchen are also housed within the multipurpose space located in the base of Valencia’s historic Mercado Colon, a vibrant shopping and eating destination.

The studio used poplar wood to great extent, crafting a rich ambience for the 300 square metre space, echoing the luxurious comfort food on offer by Michelin-starred Spanish chef Ricard Camarena. Habitual marks the fifth restaurant they have worked on for the chef. Portions of the building’s original red piping are left exposed, a nod to the market’s history and a deliberate choice to refrain.

It’s rare to see such restraint in materials, with simple shapes and uniform materials carving out a serene background for eating — a purposeful aim of the studio “to create a warm space and to avoid excess.” The continuity lends an intimate environment to the interior, allowing the field-to-table Mediterranean cuisine and patrons to add the zest and colour.

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