Client: Puree Juice Bar
Location: Fairfax, VA, United States
Completion date: 2016
Artwork budget: $160,000
Michael Belisle Design, AIA
When the founder/owner/chef-de-cuisine of Puree Juice Bar was invited to expand her concept from Bethesda, Md. to the Mosaic District in Fairfax, Va. the expansion seemed very organic; replicate what works in one dense, upscale, mixed use environment to another. Moving across the “Potomac Ocean” provided challenges.
Unlike Bethesda which has grown organically and is surrounded by well established neighborhoods, the Mosaic District is a newly created town center surrounded by highway sprawl, so aside from people living within the district, the development functions as a vehicular destination. The challenge for retailers without a recognizable brand in these newly created, instant “town centers” can be intense competition for customer awareness and spending. Puree Juice Bar provides organic, vegan, and unpasteurized juices and prepared foods for public consumption but because the market share for this cuisine is limited, the product, the service, and the space have to resonate with the customer.
Transparency and art were the two guiding principles for this design. The inherited space was small (under 700 sf) and compressed. To air it out, most of the walls and the ceiling were removed. The decision to open up the existing storefront with the insertion of awning windows was made to make the “barrier of entry” less formidable for the customer and to extend the otherwise small space. The front kitchen is completely open to the public and the back kitchen and bathroom are screened by an art installation that functions as both scrim and branding. This art scrim and another large mural that anchors a small seating area off to the side were executed by a local artist on translucent, acrylic panels. The dropped poly carbonate ceiling and the cladding for the customized “grab and go”, both of which are translucent, complement the art and reinforce the feeling of transparency.