As the story goes, tapas came about first by necessity and led to lazy innovation: bartenders would serve beer or sherry with a saucer on top to keep the flies out, and soon after saw that serving a small snack on the saucer was an opportunity to both encourage guests to return or to keep them sober enough to stay for another. Located in Vancouver, Como Taperia by lcoal practice Ste. Marie is a nod to the classic, centuries-old, standing-room-only tapas bars in Barcelona’s Poble Sec or Madrid’s La Latina quarters. These spaces are tight, acoustics are loud and you may or may not be offered a place to sit, favoring conversation and community over intimacy and comfort.
“Our access point to the materiality and color strategy came from one particular reference, Jardins de les 3 Xemeneies, and its three brick chimneys that backdrop the bustling Poble Sec–the only remains of an early 20th century power station built by the Barcelona Traction, Power and Light Company ( a Canadian utility company that operated light and power utilities in Catalonia, Spain) locally known as La Canadiense for the old company’s Canadian electricity production,” explains the design team. Opening a tapas bar in Canada, this history acted as a leeway into exploring the vernacular of this neighborhood, allowing Como to become a contemporary materialization–an homage to all the architects love about Spain.
Recently, Ste. Marie’s team was behind the interiors of Caffè La Tana, an Italian alimentari that has the same effect of the taperia: makes the traditional feel unexpectedly novel.
The rest of the project was an exercise in keeping things simple and fun and letting a few other cool points of inspiration stand out against this backdrop like the punches of cobalt blue reminiscent of Miro and the art program taking Jean Arp’s work as a point of departure. All these elements culminate in an inviting, charming spot to connect with friends and loved ones for a few unfussy snacks and drinks: Arriba, abajo, al centro y adentro!