Locally sourced food and materials aren’t new in the world of high-end dining. But when designer Ignacio Cadena began working on a new concept in Jalisco, Mexico, for chef Alfonso Cadena, he took a whole new approach to sourcing material. After six months of digging and searching, he assembled a set of 10,000 bleached animal bones, which, when set in boxes with cooking utensils and objects in a way that calls to mind Robert Rauschenberg, turned the interior of the restaurant into a slightly macabre mural.
“It’s a bit of a Darwinian vision of how things work,” says Cadena. “My dialogue with the chef was about a vision of his food, that we’ll still eat traditionally and eat animals in a raw, natural, and conscientious way.”
Housed in a former artist’s studio, Hueso exudes a certain starkness and seriousness of purpose, from the custom tiles on the exterior (with a thicket of dashes based on the patterns of local weavers) to the long communal tables and basket at the host’s stand, a suggestion to drop off your phone before dining. While the design begs for attention, the long, continuous mural and shared seating put a focus on community and the chef’s own irreverent cooking.
“He’s adventurous, like his cooking,” says Cadena about the chef. “He doesn’t care what anybody thinks.”