“Metropolitan sophistication” was the drive behind the design for Masa restaurant, which is located in Target Plaza in downtown Minneapolis, MN. While the authentic Mexican cuisine stimulates the palates of patrons, the restaurant’s interior design is just as vibrant. And one of the main elements of the upscale eatery is a shimmering “wave” wall adorned with tiny iridescent glass mosaic tile. The glass mosaic pieces were also incorporated into the floor design, further contributing to the unique and elegant character of the dining establishment.
“The existing space was a restaurant that we remodeled,” said Senior Project Architect Michelle Piontek, AIA, of KKE Architects in Minneapolis. “With the existing back kitchen and bar locations to remain unchanged, we worked within strict budget constraints to design a chic, fresh and fashionable upscale Mexican restaurant interior that looks and feels completely different, with virtually no references to its previous tenant.”
The architect collaborated on the project with lead designer Richard D’Amico of D’Amico & Partners, a Minneapolis-based restaurant developer and management company. The design objective was to create an atmosphere that would educate patrons about the rich cultures of Mexico by surrounding them with many of the lucious colors and textures native to the country.
“The wave wall creates a fluid transition element,” said Piontek. “The owner’s idea was to mark the transition from the dining area to the bar through a centrally located vestibule, with a striking element -- a tile mosaic that flows from the floor up the wall in one wave-like surface.”
The focal wall is clad in green-colored glass tile from Oceanside Glasstile’s Tessera collection. The 1- x 1-inch pieces, which are a shade called “Morado,” came assembled on 11 3/4- x 11 3/4-inch mesh tiles. Iridescent grout was used for the installation. “The iridescent aspect of the glass tile adds to the wave effect,” said the architect. “The wall shimmers and almost moves.”
Piontek explained that the design team worked closely with the client to determine materials and elements used for the interior design. “The client came to us with conceptual images and material samples,” she said. “We worked together to make them work in the space.”
In addition to the wall in the entry, the same Oceanside Glasstile mosaics were employed for the floor design in the dining and bar areas. While 18- x 18-inch white porcelain tiles from Daltile comprise the field, the green-colored glass mosaic tiles form a grid. Additionally, Daltile porcelain tiles measuring 4 x 8 inches create the base.
“The floor pattern was inspired by an exterior landscape image which mimicks garden pavers integrated into grass borders,” explained the architect. This same tile pattern is carried into the restrooms, where it is used to create floating countertops.
Complementing the glass tile are colorful custom-made tiles from Mixed-Up Mosaics of New York, NY. “Glass tile was a big part of the design, but we also used tile throughout,” said Piontek, adding that Mixed-Up Mosaics provided an assortment of colors and patterns to select from.
Brightly colored, irregular-shaped glass tiles form wainscoting on the walls along the dining area’s perimeter, and are also installed on table tops in the bar area and the host stand at the main entry.
According to Piontek, each element of the restaurant was intentionally selected to harmonize with every other element, resulting in a well-integrated whole that enhances patrons’ dining experience.