Some people collect stamps, other train numbers or thimbles. Personally, I prefer fully-tiled restaurant interiors. I know it’s a minority interest, possibly a tad obsessive, but I don’t think it harms anyone.
And tiles are such a beautiful surface finish for restaurants. They can give you an ethnic look to reinforce the culinary heritage of a particular brand. Nando’s use of talavera tiles to emphasise its Portuguese roots is a fine case in point.
Tiles can also offer tone and texture for fine dining establishments.
Most obviously, highly glazed tiles can project cleanliness and hygiene; while actually being very easy to keep clean. This has been leveraged in offal-based food concepts with a cap tipped towards butcher’s shops of the past.
Few have taken the humble glazed tile to such heights as Voodoo Ray’s: a pizza slice shop and bar in Dalston, East London. Here the aim was to create a distinctive and characterful space that referenced both New York and London.
Its neon signage and bright tiled interior is designed to be part of the night time street scene to sit within, and celebrate, its location on Kingsland High Street; a typical inner London high street with its riotous melange of ad-hoc signs and frontages.
A long pizza counter runs through the shopfront connecting the street with the interior, which is formed as a sequence of volumes clad in 150 by 150mm glazed ceramic tiles. This has the effect of reducing in scale and density to reveal the building’s original interior as you move towards the back of the shop; where a hidden door leads to a basement club..
Each element is expressed in a different colour, the larger elements incorporating giant abstracted text.
The design, delivered by Gundry & Ducker in 2013, references everything from launderettes and pie shops, to seaside amusement arcades; all of which are reinterpreted with a cartoon sensibility.
“We wanted to see what we could do with the 150mm square-format tiles,” Christian Ducker told Dezeen. “Our medley of references included graphics from New York in the 1950s and 1980s.”
The tiles spell out ‘pizza’ in large letters along the wall running from outside the restaurant parallel to the serving counter, though the top of the word is cut off by the ceiling.
Dark blue tiles cover the surfaces and seats along the same wall, while columns and beams are wrapped in yellow and red.
The late night pizza slice bar was converted from a nightclub so the architects had to start from scratch in the space.
“We completely gutted the whole place, took out all the flooring and built in a slope at the entrance,” explains Ducker. “The space is all tiled at the front, and they gradually fade towards the back where there are just a few clusters left.”
“We left some exposed brickwork because we wanted the one-tile-thick insertion to be noticeable,” he added.
The tiles extend out and around the building’s entrance, branded with a red neon sign by graphic designers Studio Partyline.
Voodoo Ray’s is named after a 1988 acid house track by UK artist Gerald Simpson, A.K.A. A Guy Called Gerald.
Photography: Hufton + Crow.
An new post by Joe Simpson, Diary of a Tile Addict, January 2017.