Originally conceived as a cannabis lounge, Stella’s Cucina sits in the core of a new commercial building facing Boulder’s Historic District. As the enterprise could not be seen from the exterior, the space does not establish relationships with the city; therefore, we envisioned the project as an inheritor of the Speakeasy underground scene of the American Prohibition era and we sought the opportunity to bring natural light through a central skylight. This idea of an old-fashioned, elegant, but concealed space, profoundly influenced the design of the project. Only an "S" indicates Stella's entrance on Walnut Street, hidden behind a towering 12 feet aluminum door under a perforated metal canopy.

From entering the building to siting at your table, Stella's is an entirely new hospitality experience, one shrouded in elegance and mystery: as one opens the aluminum door, the space is compressed with a curved white ceiling. The existing brick wall on one side and its reflection along the opposite mirrored wall, escort guests to the interior. In the lobby, an oak wall with a check-in window awaits the visitors, where an unseen bouncer cards the guests. From there, a hidden wooden door reveals a dark corridor, where the host welcomes the visitors and walks them through a compressed and dimmed space with wood walls. The low light adapts the eye and the slotted curved wall forces to change direction and pushes the guest into the squared dining room with a massive 16’x16’ skylight centered in a navy blue background. The light is filtered through a golden aluminum egg crate. Below, a 45 degree rotated bar with curved corners, welcomes and invites the guests onto the perimeter tables. This entrance view emphasizes the grid and allows the guest to have a glimpse of the whole dining room, while the back mirrored wall doubles the whole space, and a large screen wall serves as a digital window. 

A curved fixed seating is arranged on the perimeter of the square. The flesh fabric of the millwork waves and flows reflecting the relaxing, inventive environment for guests to unwind and let the space envelop them. On the left and right walls, equidistant columns separate the main space from the white vaulted dining areas in the back, which allow for a more private affair. Capping off the space, the entry wall displays a long wood wall with a modular Marihuana leaf pattern.

Stella convenes the Speakeasy concept with the contemporary Italian Cuisine proposing an Art Deco influenced color palette. The elegant navy-blue background allows the flesh tones to create a warm atmosphere with sleek accent gold elements, on a nostalgic 1930s era tone. The central skylight bathes the bar with light at all times and works as a solar dial. When the sun sets, the lights commence a sequence of settings that get darker as the DJ stage on the corner takes prominence while the Italo disco night starts.

source: MQ Architecture