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Project Spotlight: Plate SF is Fresh and Modern in Cotton Brick

Tile Shown: Brick in Cotton; Architect Claudio Martonffy & Natalie Kittner

Plate is a recently opened take-out only restaurant in San Francisco's Marina District that offers healthy to-go fare for its patrons. We love the concept of this restaurant that allows customers to either pre-order on their iPhone or go check out the daily offering in person. We also love this clean, bright space and the way our Cotton Brick looks in a straight set pattern amongst the other materials chosen by the design leads Claudio Martonffy and Natalie Kittner.

We spoke with the architect Claudio Martonffy about Plate and his experience with Fireclay: 

How did you hear about Fireclay Tile?

I heard about Fireclay through my friend and fellow architect Nash Hurley at VITAL. He described Fireclay Tile as a local tile manufacturer that was re-positioning itself in the market by providing excellent product, on-point customers service, and a modern re-branding. I was working on an residential apartment building upgrade and met Bill Palmer (Fireclay's head of Commercial Sales) at the old Design Center space to review some tile for possible exterior use on the facade of the apartment.  It wasn't for a year or so later that I contacted Fireclay again for our Plate project and was very impressed that Fireclay's transformation was in full swing!

Can you tell me about the space? Is there any story behind it and the project that you want to share? 

Dylan Walker's (the owner) vision for Plate is to provide a healthful, modern interpretation of comfort-food-to-go through a web-based ordering system for convenience, but with a physical neighborhood presence.  On your iPhone, you customize your meal from the fresh main courses and sides available for the day and then pick them up at a pre-determined time from the Pierce Street location. Neighborhood residents could also stroll into the store and physically see what was on the menu for the day and order on the spot with the assistance of Plate's staff. Other neighborhood "satellite" locations will follow over time.  Our task as the architects for Plate was to provide a balanced interpretation of the concepts of modernity and comfort into the flagship brick and mortar location for Plate.

Tile Shown: Straight Set Brick in Cotton

What type of look or aesthetic were you going for?

The design problem Natalie and I set up for Plate was to design a functional store that could also perform like an art gallery space in terms of its aesthetic and minimalism.  Repeating customers had to be able to efficiently pick up their pre-orders, but new customers had to be able to see the day's fresh offerings of main dishes and sides in a clean, comfortable, space that put the food in the foreground.  You could sum up the design intent as, "a minimalist and comfortable gallery to browse and purchase healthy take-out food."

How did you come up with your color scheme and design?

The color scheme and design was a collaboration between Dylan Walker, Martin Kay (a graphic designer), and ourselves.  Using Martin's clean, and minimal branding package, we all agreed that an understated feel with fewer materials and one accent color would convey our idea of "modern comfort" and we set up our material palette:

  • The concrete floors were literally an extension of the sidewalk down to the joint pattern which was a riff on the dimension of sidewalk pavers.
  • The white museum wall was a backdrop for the white metal menu boards and ordering instructions.
  • The Ash feature wall brought warmth and texture to the space.
  • The casework including check-outs and display case were a combination of Ash butcher block and the same Ash on the feature wall, but white-washed.
  • We used glazed brick from Fireclay to distinguish the "service" part of the store from the "gallery."
  • A fresh yellow was used in the door and window frames as the accent.

Why did you choose the color/pattern?

The Cotton Glazed Fireclay Brick tiles are really the bridge between the ash and the white museum wall both in color and texture. The Cotton Brick wasn't as flat white as the museum walls.  Since the glaze color was slightly varied from brick to brick it had a similar organic feel to the wood. We felt that using the brick in a stacked bond felt more contemporary than a running bond pattern.  Functionally, we needed a "cleanable" finish material at that wall since it was the edge of the food handling area - Fireclay's Glazed Brick was the perfect solution.  In fact, it was using the "Cotton" color that inspired us to "white-wash" the ash on the vertical panels of the casework.

Tile Shown: Straight Set Brick in Cotton

How did the installation process go?  Did you face any challenges?  Did you work with a tile installer or contractor?

The challenges in the installation process were mainly to deal with the "no-cut" tile conditions at the perimeter and openings of the tile wall. The team all worked together well and it was not hard to get the framers to care about the tile-setter's needs. We had to do our part by knowing the technical aspects of the tile and providing clear drawings.
Thanks again to everyone and Fireclay and we look forward to working together on the next project!

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