One of the highlights of the new Saks Fifth Avenue at the Galleria shopping center in Houston, TX, is its trendy restaurant, 51fifteen Cuisine and Cocktails, which is located on the second level of the high-end retail store. With a menu focused on locally sourced seasonal ingredients created by Executive Chef Stefon Rishel, the 8,500-square-foot restaurant features a modern dining room, bar, semi-private lounge and private dining space — along with Bar 12, a satellite café and bar located in the center of the first floor. Contributing to the chic design of the space is the use of Dekton by Cosentino — a blend of the raw materials used to produce the very latest in glass and porcelain, as well as the highest quality quartz work surfaces.
The design team included lead designer Mia Yamada, as well as Nina Magon, principal of Contour Interior Design, which has offices in Houston, TX, and Miami, FL. “Since Saks Fifth Avenue is an iconic store, we wanted to exemplify its iconic style in the design of the new restaurant,”
Magon said. “No other restaurant in Houston has used the combination of mid-century modern pieces such as the Saarinen chairs by Knoll with the famous Serge Mouille light fixtures in the classic color scheme of white, gray, black, brass and white stone, in one cohesively designed space. Therefore, with this design, we truly wanted to create a space that would make a design statement in Houston, as well as represent timeless design with a modern twist.”
Magon explained a sales representative from Cosentino, Fernanda Salmon, first introduced Dekton to her and her staff when she brought the product to their office. “We were working on the Saks restaurant and looking for a material that mimicked marble and so she introduced us to Dekton Aura, which matched perfectly with our color palette,” she said. “She also showed us installation photos of the product and explained why it would be such a great choice for our multiple applications. She brought us a Dekton tower for our office with all the product samples for us to compare and choose from.”
While the design team liked the look of the material from the start, they did research the product to make sure it would fit their specs before making a final decision. “We wanted to make sure that it was appropriate for a commercial space, durable, easily cleanable and could be applied to the floor, walls and ceiling,” explained Magon. “Visually, we also appreciated the fact that the Dekton Aura material was able to be bookmatched and came in eight different designs, which gave us the ability to mix and match patterns, as well as add an interesting variety to the design.
“Since our introduction to the product, we have used it for our office — countertops, design library and reception desk — and for residential clients’ kitchens and custom furniture,” the designer went on to say. “We prefer the material because it is extremely durable and is dual purposed for both indoor and outdoor use. It also comes in a variety of colors and patterns. The XGloss collection is the newest offering for Dekton and is used for sleek contemporary looks. XGloss comes in solid colors, as well as in color options that resemble the looks of various natural stone materials.”
Dekton Aura was employed throughout the restaurant’s design, including floors, walls, ceilings and countertops. The design is livened up with an accent wall of octagonal pieces that extends on to the ceiling.
“It is such a versatile product,” said Magon, adding there were some challenges along the way. “Dekton Aura is not a through body material, so some of the countertop edges were not consistent in color/pattern. It also takes longer to cut than other materials so the prep and installation process was very extensive.”
The fabrication process
51fifteen Cuisine and Cocktails
Saks Fifth Avenue
Designer: Contour Interior Design, Houston, TX, and Miami, FL
Fabricator/Installer: StoneStore, Houston, TX
Material Manufacturer: Cosentino, Sugar Land, TX (Dekton)
The Dekton used for 51fifteen Cuisine and Cocktails was fabricated by StoneStore, located in Houston, TX. Owner Daniel Robinson said the company has been cutting Dekton for about two years. “It is a unique material with lots of potential, and we thought our customers would be interested in it,” he said when explaining why he went through Cosentino’s certification process to cut Dekton. “It takes longer and requires more expensive tooling, care and patience. Working with Dekton needs to be well planned and accurate. All elements of working with Dekton — sales, shipping, storage, cutting, fabricating and installing — require a little more diligence.”
In total, approximately 100 slabs of Dekton Aura were used for the restaurant’s interior design. The fabrication process took about six weeks, according to Robinson, who said the pieces ranged in size and shape.
“There were giant panels the size of whole slabs and there were tiny strips on wall caps,” he said. “There were countertops, wall panels, ceilings, floors, sinks — everything.
“It took us about five weeks to install everything,” Robinson went on to say. “We had a team out there seven days a week — about 10 to 16 hours a day — and people running tops from the shop to the site halfway through the day. The beginning of a big project always goes slow until you get into a rhythm and then it speeds up. When working with Dekton, the cuts are infinitely better when done with a serious machine opposed to a hand tool, so we tried to not trim on site, but there are always adjustments.”
The fabricator explained the timing was intense. “Things didn’t progress in the order we expected and the pace was crazy as the schedule got condensed,” he said. “Every day we had just enough pieces to install that day, and more ready for the next day. Plus, we were sharing the space with other trade teams that were also on tight timelines. Working on a project where there is a grand opening announced before the start makes life difficult. Because all the slabs had veining, we had to photograph and bar code every slab upon receipt. Then as each area was ready, we had to lay it out so it would all match. This was an incredibly time-consuming process considering the timeline. We had an issue where the designers had designed the whole building around images of a different run of material than we received, so on the fly they had to redo the designs with all new patterns, then we had to turn it around very quickly. There were all kinds of surprises that make these jobs fun.”
Ensuring a successful result
According to Magon, the design team was also on the jobsite a few times a week and towards the end of the project almost every day. “We were on a very tight timeline, so we wanted to make sure everything was installed properly, resolve any onsite issues and catch any mistakes quickly so they could be corrected accordingly,” she said.
Construction on 51fifteen Cuisine and Cocktails began in November 2015 and was completed by April 2016. “The reaction has been incredible,” said the designer. “Customers are obsessing over the design and cannot stop snapping pictures inside of the restaurant. Everyone has said they were blown away with how spectacular and unique the design is and that they love the Dekton material used in various and unique applications throughout the space."