Raku Ceiling Art Installation

Slow and steady wins the race.  

Our true preference for jobs is:

  1. Get the gig
  2. Think it through
  3. Submit ideas
  4. Get approval
  5. Knock it out!   

Unfortunately, with restaurant planning, it doesn't always work this way.  With the Raku ceiling art installation, taking our time on such a big project paid off.

In this situation there were many players - architect, construction folks and of course, the owner. As I looked back through old emails I realize that this journey began over a year ago in May of 2014!  It is finally, the end of July 2015 and Raku is OPEN! 

The architect reached out to us with a concept for a type of suspended ceiling art installation that evokes the idea of cherry blossoms.  Cool! Off to the drawing board we go!

First concept — off the mark!

First concept — off the mark!

Now I'm a fairly literal thinker so I went with the obvious.  Gnarly branches, blossoms with a hint of pink and some 3D stamens...  I was WRONG.

The architect wanted something more abstract and geometric.  This is a conceptual rendering from 2 Scale Interiors.

Conceptual rendering from 2 Scale Interiors

Conceptual rendering from 2 Scale Interiors

Back to the drawing board.  Cherry blossoms have five petals so the pentagon was the solution.  I cut out and suspended a small model in my studio.

Though my studio suffered a few extra random holes in the ceiling, I took the model to the following meeting and SUCCESS!  All agreed that this was the look we should carry forward. Then came the doldrums...  There are a multitude of moving parts in the conceptualizing and creation of a restaurant.  We began to look into appropriate materials BUT had to take advantage of a SNOW DAY!!  Yep, took the day off and went on a ski adventure with my kids and a few of their friends.  After all, this IS why we work right?!?!

Speaking of work, back to work.  I brought on board a friend and fellow artist, Wes Lawrence as I knew he would be a huge asset from this point on.  Wes and I determined that the appropriate material to fabricate the sculpture for the ceiling installation would be a medium weight acrylic sheet suspended by thread rods (imagine really, really long screws), thin cable and filament (imagine, uh, fishing line).  We decided that 4x8 foot sheets of material could be made into a unit of 7 to 11 blossoms.  

Enter Jodi, OUR COMPUTER GURU, as she was able to create a pattern that linked the pieces together.

We sent the patterns off to our fabricator who, in turn, created about $5,000.00 worth of acrylic cherry blossoms...  NO TURNING BACK NOW!  So, Wes and I, with heat guns in hand, were challenged by approximately 1,800 bends to create the shape of the blossoms.  Rome was not built in a day nor was the ceiling for Raku.  Marcel, the owner, was by one afternoon and we enticed him to bend one himself which he was willing to do!  If you're at the restaurant and one seems off that just might be his!

While the little cardboard sample was adequate to understand the concept we installed a portion to demonstrate how it would look in the actual space. Still much work to be done prior to our install.

Beneath the brown paper facing of these pieces are both clear and white acrylic flowers.  And that's a photo of me impersonating a flower — Not bad!

Once all were bent to perfection (more or less - think cornflakes... are they all the same?) it was time for install.  Hardware?  check.  Scaffold?  check.  Tape measure?  check.  Radio with good tunes?  check.  Artistic license?  DOUBLE CHECK!

So, not a lot of photos to demonstrate our journey/adventure through installation but, TRUST ME, it was a journey and it was an adventure!  Lots of fun, frustration, bad words and a whole lot of laughter. Our time there was mostly evening hours once all the other trades left for the day.  Often climbing into bed after midnight.

Around and around we went all the while Marcel watching on.  I learned that the life of a restauranteur is NOT easy.  The time he spends to make this place special and unique is immeasurable.

Slow but sure the space filled in, blossom after blossom after blossom...

When it's said and done, a whole lot of time, a whole lot of energy, a whole lot of creativity was spent to create a unique dining experience.  Hopefully just one person will look up and say, "COOL".  After a year's worth of effort (minus that little ski trip) it is all worth it.