Behind every design there is a story or point of inspiration. This issue of Contemporary Stone & Tile Design features four projects with varying styles and purposes, yet in each case, the final result is a wonderful display of stone and tile. And while the approach to each design might be different, each architect and designer found a source for inspiration that led them to express their vision and satisfy their client’s design requirements.Jennifer Adams

Three of the four projects are restaurants in our Hospitality Design focus, and each one is very different from another — from their location to style and clientele. Coba Cocina in Lexington, KY, (page 12) was conceived as a prototype for a chain of restaurants. It is a 400-seat restaurant, bar and confectionary — all in one. Architect Todd Ott, AIA, of CMW Inc. dedicated time to researching Mesoamerican culture to serve as the inspiration for the building’s architecture. The design concept evolved to telling the story of the rich Mayan culture of the Yucatan Peninsula “in both its sacred architecture as well as the naturally forming cenote,” explained Ott. To achieve the design goal, the architect incorporated a large amount of tile and stone — in varying colors, sizes and textures — into Coba Cocina’s exterior and interior design.

When returning to his native land of the Dominican Republic to design the interior of two restaurants joined under one roof, architect Rafael Alvarez of Alvarez + Brock Design LLC in New York, NY, related his design concept to the surrounding environment (page 20). Alvarez explained that the restaurants are set within a park. “The idea was for the building to grow within the park,” he explained. “In the Caribbean, traditionally tile is used on the roof to keep the inside cool.” With this as his inspiration, the architect created two large “wings” for the building, each of which was clad with colorful mosaic tile, which blends well with the natural setting. When designing the interior of each restaurant, Alvarez explained that it was a challenge since both were entirely different in food, style and look. Cohesion came by using a palette of varying stone types and tile.

Designer and Beverly Hills House Wife Lisa Vanderpump went with glitzy glass mosaic tile and quartz to create a glamorous atmosphere in her restaurant, Sur (page 30). The upscale materials were a nice complement to the affluent area of West Hollywood, CA.

On the residential side, designer Anna Marie Fanelli of Floor & Décor in Tenafly, NJ, was posed with the difficult challenge of designing a custom tile fireplace on a 9- x 7-foot wall in the family room of her client’s upscale private residence in Alpine, NJ (page 32). According to Fanelli, her client showed her a picture of a fireplace found in Architect Record of Russia, which served as the jump-off point. “I went to the house and looked at the empty wall,” she said. “For three days, I didn’t take any appointments. I meditated on it. It was very ornate, large and different sort of project — going back to Russian history. I really had to focus and get inspired. I started sketching on the third day.”

Telling the stories of each architect and designer is always fun and interesting to me. Feel free to tell me about your inspirations at I’d love to hear from you.