If there’s an overarching theme that has charac- terized both the food and design industries lately, it’s summed in one word: authenticity. Both crafts came together seamlessly in the design of the
recently opened Agave Uptown restaurant in Oakland,
Calif., named in homage to the agave plant—the
central ingredient in mescal production. Designed in
partnership between local architecture and design firm
Arcsine and Chef Octavio Diaz, the 4,000-square-
foot oasis is filled with thoughtful design references
that bring the culture, history, and diverse energy of
Oaxaca, Mexico to Oakland.
Housed on the ground floor of the Kapor Center for
Social Impact, Agave Uptown promises to become an
integral part of the Oakland dining scene while joining
with the Kapor Center in its mission to narrow gaps in
opportunity and access for underrepresented communities,
according to Arcsine.
Upon entering, guests are welcomed by a sophisticated yet approachable color palette of cool blues
punctuated by earthy reds, yellows, and oranges. A
handsome teak floor sets the foundation for wood,
copper, porcelain, and brown-braided leather details
that add warmth and depth to the space.
The main dining area is defined by a curved wall
separating the restaurant from the Kapor Center. Lapiztola,
an Oaxaca-based art collective, worked with the design
team to create a compelling mural that speaks to Agave
Uptown’s dedication to authentic cuisine, the creation of
mescal, social empowerment, and community.
i+s recently had a chance to speak with the design
team at Arcsine, including Daniel Scovill, founding
principal; Irene Yu, architectural designer; and Britney
Gildea, interior designer, about what influenced the
creation of this inspiring new eatery.
i+s: What were the objectives for the project, and
what role did artwork play in helping to create a
DANIEL SCOVILL: As it began, it was supposed to be
just a small cafe. The other parts of the ground were
going to be event space, retail space, and other [areas].
Fairly quickly, the charts changed to being a full-service
bar and restaurant, and a private dining room kind of
facility—a place that has all of that under one roof. The
program changed pretty drastically right off the bat.
The sense of the agave plant, the process of creating
mescal, washed with the tastes and smells and sounds
of Oaxaca, and specifically, the mole [sauce]—those
three things jumped out right from the beginning, and
became our guiding light for the rest of the project.
IRENE YU: Octavio [Diaz], who’s the chef of the restaurant,
wanted to bring an authentic Oaxacan experience to
Oakland, and that’s really what drove the space, as
well as the artwork.
By Robert Nieminen | Photography by Aubrie Pick
Arcsine delivers an authentic Oaxacan experience
to Oakland with the opening of Agave Uptown.
58 interiors+sources february2017