SUERTE / CAFE

1212 CHICON ST, AUSTIN TX

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1. Conceptual logo for SUERTE.      
2. Beets and Roots restaurant, Berlin, Gonazales Haase AAS.    
3. Loteria card iconography.
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Spring 2017, Design VI
Jan.-May 2017

Debra Johnson

The concept of SUERTE, located in East Austin in an area identified as a food desert, is to provide healthy meals at fast food prices. Food deserts are linked to higher rates of obesity and diabetes in low-income neighborhoods, but simply access to healthy food is not enough if it is more expensive than other options. SUERTE offers a simple menu of vegetarian Mexican food, partnering with local farms in order to streamline purchasing to keep prices low. Culturally, SUERTE serves to highlight the Latinx influence in E. Austin, something I perceive as being vibrant and emphasizing iconography. For this I chose to use Loteria cards, which feature iconic Mexican symbols, to inform my color palette, seating design, and programmatic concepts. In designing seating, I wanted to allow for both intimate and social interactions by having three different kinds of booths, though each variation is enclosed on two sides with semi-translucent colored acrylic-- dividing the space but still allowing for visual connection. There are booths for four and two people, and one arrangement in which two people sit side by side one another. Each booth references a different Loteria card and takes its name-- La Luna, La Mano, La Rosa. Besides the acrylic panels, the bulk of the café, counters and surrounding walls are clad in cast aluminum tiles, with the floor and dropped ceiling being a smooth white vinyl in order to reflect the colors from the acrylic in a controlled manner. The various panels lead to a blurring between different colors, and this shifting phenomenon during various times of day (depending on outside lighting conditions) offers a variety of experiences for diners.

SUERTE highlights the Latinx influence in E. Austin, something I perceive as being vibrant and emphasizing iconography.