HOSPITALITYDESIGN: Veneno Restaurant Celebrates Its Heritage in Guadalajara

Alia Akkam • Photos by Cesar Béjar Studio •
February 3, 2021

A variety of carved patterns make up Veneno’s eye-catching, textural ceiling

In the Mexican state of Chihuahua, Paquimé, the UNESCO World Heritage site also known as Casas Grandes, impresses with its clustered remains of ancient adobe dwellings. It was a photograph of this prehistoric archaeological marvel that sparked the design of Veneno, a restaurant in Guadalajara brought to life by Monteón Arquitectos Asociados and Pragma Estudio.

From the beginning, the clients had a specific vision for Veneno, explains Pragma Estudio’s Juan Antonio Ángel Ramírez, founder of the locally based practice. The objective was to capture the look and feel of the enigmatic Paquimé. “They wanted us to translate that carved-from-the ground aspect of the place, but from a contemporary approach,” he says.

As a result, Veneno is aptly dominated by durable, earth-toned plaster that reflects the hues of the desert. Yet, despite the simplicity of the material, its nod to the region’s legacy of craftsmanship is clear. Consider the organically shaped niches sculpted into the backbar that are reminiscent of jigsaw puzzle pieces, or the freestanding walls that lend diners a sense of privacy.

The desert-inspired interior palette is dominated by earthen tones and natural elements

By embracing natural elements like stamped concrete flooring and Rosa Morada, an indigenous Mexican wood, the designers reinforced the plaster’s monochrome appeal throughout the space, accenting it with ceramic tiles, steel, and leather. “We wanted to give each element its own character among a seamless palette,” points out Ramírez.

A dramatic relief ceiling comprising nine carved-, thermoformed-, and painted-CNC modules that form random patterns through three-point connections juxtapose the serene backdrop. Beyond providing a burst of texture to the room, the ceiling also plays a utilitarian role, concealing light fixtures, speakers, and CCTV equipment.

Anchored by an open kitchen, Veneno invites diners to partake of the reimagined, age-old stone-and pit-oven cooking rituals synonymous with northern Mexican haciendas. “We liked the idea of being a stage,” says Ramírez, “where guests and staff perform daily scenes spending time together around fire.”

The open kitchen further immerses visitors in the dining experience

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