Project Spotlight: The Perennial | Fireclay Tile
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Project Spotlight: The Perennial

By Kali

Project Spotlight: The Perennial

Innovative, sustainable and beautiful are three words that are synonymous with The Perennial, a recently opened restaurant in San Francisco. The Perennial distinguishes itself in its complete dedication to environmental sustainability, both in food and design (read more about this here). As a B-Corp, we truly appreciate their vision, as we also aim to use recycled content in our products and strive to tread lightly on our planet. Using our Recycled Clay Body in 4 beautiful glazes, our commercial team worked with The Perennial to develop a custom color and tile size (the 4x12) that would complement their principles, as well as the aesthetic of the space.

Below, we spoke with co-founder Karen Leibowitz about the restaurant, designing the space and of course, her experience with our tile:

1.) How did you hear about Fireclay Tile? Who helped you, and what did you enjoy about the experience?

During the construction process, one of our partners took us to the Fireclay showroom, which is just a few blocks away from our restaurant, and we had so much fun imagining all the possibilities. That first day, we talked with Caitlyn Child, and then on a later day, Paul Burns came to our half-finished space and helped us make some decisions. Over the next few months, we worked closely with both Paul and Caitlyn on our tile choices, particularly the floor tile in our vestibule, which is a custom color. Overall, we really felt collaborative with them, and we were happy that they were able to come to our opening night and see how it all came together.

2.) Can you tell me about the space? Is there any story behind it and the project that you want to share? What did it look like before? What did you change?

The Perennial is a restaurant and bar dedicated to environmental sustainability, in everything from the sourcing to operations to the interior design. When we first saw our space, it was just a concrete box in the ground floor of an apartment building, so we built it from scratch.

Tile Shown: 4x12 tiles in Flagstone; view of the bar area.

The first, most important decision we made was to organize the space as an L-shaped bar wrapped around a large walk-in refrigerator. We have windows and taps that allow bartenders to access the walk-in (which has two rooms: fridge temperature and wine cellar temperature). This design not only eliminates the need for many small, inefficient low-boy refrigerators behind the bar but also means we can keep our liquor cool and reduce ice waste. Given our L-shaped design without a lot of bar shelving, we needed a sustainable material to line the back bar and Fireclay’s Recycled Clay Tile was a perfect fit. And once we chose the Flagstone color, that really defined the space and determined all of our other color choices.  

Tile Shown: 4x12 tiles in Flagstone at the bar.

3.) What type of look or aesthetic were you going for?

For us, sustainability was the top consideration, but we also wanted to set an optimistic, even luxurious tone. For us, it’s really important that we send a message that an environmentally sustainable restaurant can be just as aesthetically pleasing as any other restaurant, so we were aiming high in terms of both culinary and visual aesthetics.

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

We wanted to steer away from the color green, because it felt a little too obvious as a “green” restaurant, but I love the way there’s a slight green undertone in the tile. Once we chose the tile for the back bar, we started to gravitate toward colors that were evocative of the seaside, with blues, greys, and greens, along with the wood that you see in the bar and the furniture.

5.)  Why did you choose the colors and patterns?

For the back bar, we just fell in love with the Flagstone color and we wanted a nice big tile. For the kitchen, we chose a square tile in Gardenia because it feels clean and minimal while maintaining a softer tone than a pure white color. In the bathroom, we have a light blue tile that draws on the palette of the bar and dining room, but with a degree of difference that felt right in terms of distinguishing the bathrooms from the eating and drinking areas.  

The Kitchen:

Tile Shown: 4x4 tiles in Gardenia.

Tile Shown: 4x4 tiles in Gardenia.

The Bathroom area:

Tile Shown: 3x12 tiles in Crater Lake.

Tile Shown: 3x12 tiles in Crater Lake. We really like how they used a thin piece of wood as trim in the bathroom, it ties in with the wood used throughout the space perfectly.

And then in the vestibule, we used a terra cotta tile brushed with a light, irregular glaze in the Flagstone color of our bar; the idea there was to maximize traction for folks coming in from the street on rainy days, while creating a link to the interior of the space. The shape of those floor tiles reminded us of fish, which not only connects with our seaside aesthetic but also with our work in aquaponic agriculture (Read more about that here). I laid out the more highly glazed tiles in a pattern that I hope subconsciously evokes the image of schooling fish; we also have a kind of chandelier with a similar motif, but overall, we wanted to keep it subtle.   

Tile Shown: Wave tiles in a custom color, made specifically for The Perennial. If you like this look, try our Antique in Wave.

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

Our general contractor installed the tiles. As in many large construction projects, we faced delays of time and money, so the core restaurant team (myself included) helped out with washing the grout, etc. For me, at least, it further cements my feeling of personal investment in the space.

7.)  Did you work with a designer on your project?

We have a friend who’s a designer, and she consulted with us on the colors, but otherwise, it was up to me and my partners to make these decisions. So there were a lot of conversations about every last detail, but in the end, we have something that really reflects our personal visions of an appealingly sustainable restaurant.

Do you like any of the colors used at The Perennial? Order samples online now. Need some help? Simply call, chat, or fill out our Design Assistance Form and one of our talented Design Consultants will get back to you shortly.