Indigo Restaurant | Paul Lukez Architecture
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Indigo Restaurant

Needham, MA  USA

Indigo is designed to “seduce” the visitor to engage in a culinary and visual spectacle. Located in a non-descript strip mall close to the center of town, the design attempts to buffer the harshness of the street through a series of layered spaces. The original building shell is a long and narrow volume. Its linearity is broken up into a series of spaces, each with its own spatial definition, yet visually connected to the adjacent spaces. These spaces and the partial views of the “open kitchen” are revealed sequentially and are defined by custom-crafted steel screens, sandblasted glass, and changes in wall and ceiling surfaces. The integration of a rich material palette (acid-treated copper, beech wood, aluminum, granite, steel and rich fabrics), color, and lighting is choreographed to create a rich visual experience. Thus, visitors find themselves moving with ease from one space to another, each with its own set of visual attractions, until they find themselves completely removed from the outside world.

With an extraordinarily tight budget of $250 K ($125 K was designated for kitchen equipment, leaving $125 K for interior finishes, furniture, lighting, mechanical systems, etc.), this project presented special design challenges. As a result, the design strategy focused on building out the shell as economically as possible, while retaining some budget for the selective use of special materials (copper, wood) and the fabrication of steel and glass installations. For instance, using inexpensive $15 Stonco fixtures for indirect lighting (concealed behind baffles and lighting coves) realized cost savings. A budget of $7K was set aside for the steel fabrications (i.e. the six screens, the entrance desk, steel column, and wine rack). This work was completed in collaboration with an artist / ironworker using steel components that were laser cut from cad files of our 3-d digital models. Through multiple iterations of design and value engineering, each screen was reduced to a minimum number of elements and connections. By using this iterative process, we were able to create the hostess station for $400.