Interior of a restaurant with a large booth and cut out window

Masquespacio Creates an Adobe Daydream in the Heart of Valencia

The multidisciplinary design firm’s latest restaurant, Living Bakkali, evokes ancient Arabic artistry and shifting desert sands with organic shapes, layered textures, and balmy neutrals.

Founded by Ana Milena Hernández Palacios and Christophe Penasse, creative consultancy Masquespacio has earned international recognition over the past decade for branding and design projects that feature bold, playful color schemes and an exceedingly Instagrammable, New Memphis aesthetic. Their latest design for a Valencia-based restaurant, however, takes the team in a different direction: With muted hues, grainy textures, and subtle, organic shapes, Living Bakkali evokes the shifting sands and ancient architecture of the Middle East.

“It’s important for us to evolve,” says Penasse, “and for us, Living Bakkali feels like an evolution of our style towards more organic forms and experiences, creating contrast more through form and material than through color and design trends.”

Living Bakkali’s design infuses the elegance of ancient Arabic architecture and craftsmanship with the shapeshifting nature of the desert. The team started by researching the hidden treasures of Morocco, as a source for Arabic art and architecture, before extending their research into a range of Middle Eastern countries. The resulting design features an inviting mélange of dreamy, organic shapes, balmy camel and cream shades, and earthy, granular textures.

interior of a restaurant with various seating nooks and booths
interior of a restaurant with a large continous booth and cut out window

“There’s still so much yet to be discovered from the past,” says Penasse. “We want diners to be able to disconnect, first of all, and really feel like they’re in another world when dining at Living Bakkali… To reconnect with a sense of mystery—the feeling that there’s something more just around the corner.”

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At first glance, Living Bakkali’s 1,615-square-foot interior evokes a sort of sandy, retro-futuristic womb, created by the blush-beige shades of the walls and ceilings paired with the soft, organic shapes at play throughout the space. It’s broken up into one main dining area split into four different “open” spaces (with seating for up to sixty diners) and one “closed” VIP room (which seats up to ten diners), along with bathrooms and back of house functions. The layout allows for an alternating mix of gathering areas and half-hidden alcoves for two-person booths. As diners pass through the interconnected corridors, new spaces are obscured and revealed, conjuring the serpentine paths and hidden corners of Morocco’s ancient casbahs.

Living Bakkali is soothing and sunny without feeling bright or airy. The muted palette and natural sparseness create a surprisingly intimate, gauzy warmth—nothing here feels crowded, only cozy. Dotted with various curved entryways, rounded apertures, and pass-through windows, there’s a constant collaboration of organic forms and frames, as if each room could change shape at any moment. What the walls lack in framed art, they make up for in texture: the Masquespacio team applied textural micro-cement by hand to create a unifying adobe effect along the walls, floors, and ceilings. The approach, inspired by ancient Middle Eastern techniques, gives the space a natural, uniform roughness, while also softening the edges and corners of its many nooks and hideaways.

interior of a restaurant with velvet orange seating and cut out windows

Designed by Masquespacio and crafted locally, the dining chairs and long, communal banquettes form inviting, organic shapes. Upholstered in plush, burnt sienna fabric, the seating adds a warm touch of sunset to the mostly-beige palette. Soft lighting fills the space, designed specifically to create the kind of long shadows that tend to form just before sunset in the desert. In the main dining area, that same lighting is further softened by flowing, bone-white fabric curtains. Dried, wheat-like botanicals, sourced from a local Valencia flower market, peek from behind curtains and booths, adding textural accents and intricate silhouettes to the bare canvas. 

Outside, Living Bakkali’s simple, olive-grey exterior forms a balanced contrast to the gauzy, textural warmth of its interior. The uncluttered facade and circular windows echo the interior’s organic shapes and minimal approach, but with a more hardened, shell-like feel. “We wanted to play again with the idea of discovering—making things look different than expected,” says Penasse. “You expect a certain aesthetic when you see the facade, but when you enter, it’s a completely different feel.”

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