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Rodrigo Hernandez wins the We Miss Restaurants Design Competition

"I have a fascination with the landscape, food and culture of the Patagonian Island of Chiloe," says Rodrigo Hernandez

I am an architect with over 25 years of experience who did his school, university degrees and postgraduate in Chile (Universidad Catolica, Santiago Chile). I lived and worked till adult in Santiago, but I have had 2 overseas work & living experiences. In Auckland–NZ (2 years) and in Miami–USA (5 1/2 years). So, I may say I have traveled to more places than an average person. My interest in architecture is more related to cities and places than buildings themselves, and I enjoy old and ancient architecture as much as cutting edge designs.

In my professional life I have been mostly related to urban design and master-planning works, being architecture design mostly to conceptual level, so rarely to construction. And as urban designer I had the opportunity to been involved in projects in different parts of the world, so projects in the Americas, Asia, and a couple of projects in Europe through the companies I have worked to.

What are your goals as a designer?

As said, I have had the fortune to see other parts of the world and learn and experience different ways of design and to confront projects. But I would like to take more (inter)cultural challenges, and that is the main reason to participate in international competitions. Countries and places where I never been, or where I haven’t had the opportunity to work till now. Or maybe to take designs or programs which will never have to confront. Competitions can be out-of-the-blue challenges that allow you to open your mind, especially when you compare how other competitors give a different solution, or they had a scope you never thought about it or even discard without deeper thinking.

Having worked may years I realized that clients and people are not taking too much attention to floor plans and sections now, and they want to see rendered or 3D outputs very soon. This made a challenge to me to improve tools to get renders as soon as possible.

Also, it is important to say I do not have enough time during the day to complete all the demands and needs that I would like to accomplish. So, collaboration is key to extend your capacity.

What inspired you to enter this design competition?

Last 4-5 years I been working as independent consultant with many works related to an US based firm, but these first month of 2021 I have used a quite low workflow and less work travels due pandemics, to confront international competitions that looked interesting to me. I took 3 or 4 competitions and one of these challenges was this “We Miss Restaurants”. It seemed interesting to me the idea to think and explore ideas about Restaurants and places for indulgence and travel, especially now when travel freely seems a chimera for the next years.

So even for the competition I choose a place which is slightly remote from Santiago where I live now, more than 1000 km or almost 1000 miles away.

Must also say I was part of a Resort project in the Arabic Peninsula during last year, where the Food & Beverage program was a key component of the whole design. So, I got curious about a small scale design, not the usual work or scope I do, and get closer to mood and material palettes. Also, it was to challenge me to use renderings engines, so I have taken 3 or 4 competitions to improve tools in that way.

How does your restaurant design speak to your personal experience as a designer?

I have a fascination with the landscape, food and culture of the Patagonian Island of Chiloe, located in the South of Chile. Especially in the area where is placed the restaurant -Cucao and surroundings- where I have been there in different moments of personal life (child, teenager, young, adult...). Even I dreamed the idea to have a hideaway there but prices and offers are going higher. So, the motivation is highly related to life experiences.

In that sense, the design tries to be "humble" and not disrupting to fit properly into the gently and vegetated slopes of the area. The idea to provide a place to share food and chats around a contemporary fireplace o stove (“fogón”) was especially important.

Any closing thoughts? Anything else you would like the world to know?

I am not pretentious to speak out/up to the world about how big and useful are my ideas and thoughts to be spread around the world LOL.

I think many times, we lack –as designer or architects and related- of modesty enough and we try to organize the world and how people live through designs. Sometimes we even use an initiated vocabulary that does not make sense to people. Or stardom architects, or even ourselves, are too confined with specific shapes, tastes and solutions so we even act as little dictators… LOL again.

In many years working I have learnt that strong concepts, design and ideas come when we share work and design in a collaboratively way with other colleagues or professionals...and especially with people and clients. Of course, our "desired" style may be affected or confronted, but definitely I think the consensual solution would be more holistic and potent at the end.

As previously said, also new tools for express our ideas to people is something to take care on. Design solutions are getting more complexity every day when adding cultural topics, environmental issues, economic challenges, etc. in order to provide a more multi-layered solution to the problems.

Rodrigo HernandezRodrigo HernandezRodrigo HernandezRodrigo Hernandez
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